A Zabuton Sham: Repeat Kasuri Grapes
ca. mid twentieth century
21" x 20", 53.5 cm x 51 cm
This envelope of indigo dyed cotton is formed from about 4 pieces of cloth which have been hand stitched together. This textile is meant to be fitted with an insert to become a traditional seating cushion called a zabuton.
The kasuri or ikat dyed design is unusual; shown on this zabuton cover is a repeat pattern of grapes, curling tendrils and a stepped-diamond form.
The grape design is one that is not often used in folk textiles, although it is seen from time to time. When grapes appear in Japanese design, they are often paired with stylized squirrels, this pair of motifs being borrowed from China and representing longevity (in the Chinese language, the word for grape and the word for squirrel create a homophone for peaches--taozi--which is a Taoist longevity symbol).
Of course there is wear to this cloth, which adds character and warmth. Still very usable.