A Wonderful Early 19th Century Shrine Banner: Hand Spun Cotton and Hand Painted Kanji
70" x 13 1/4", 178 cm x 33.5 cm
This old textile which is dated to 1845 is wonderful from many different perspectives, from its threads upward to its finished state.
This is a Shinto shrine banner that is hand stitched from extremely good cotton that is both hand spun and hand woven.
The cotton is loaded with what the Japanese refer to as ito aji or thread taste or flavor: the gauzy hand of the cotton has to do with the softly spun cotton yarns that were beautifully hand woven--which, too, was also done with a soft hand.
This banner would have been attached to a vertical bamboo pole and would have been exhibited outside a shrine; banners like this commemorate a special day and they often honor donations and endowments from a patron. The kanji or Chinese characters are hand drawn.
Pay special attention to the absolutely marvelous tabs which would have attached this banner to its staff: the are made of beautifully hand colored and hand stenciled cloth, and you can see a design of blue plum blossoms against a striated, nut brown background.
For its age--over 160 years old--this banner is in remarkably good condition as can be seen in the photos here.