An Antique Sample Book of Hand Weaving: Shima Cho or Stripe Album
when closed: 7" x 5", 18 cm x 12.75 cm
-5 pages (double sided) of samples
-1 page one side of samples
-more than blank pages
Shimacho means, literally, "stripe album." The small, cotton swatches contained within it are usually striped cotton, or some variation on striped cotton.
A shimacho is said to be an album of home weaving that a bride takes from her family home when she's married, leaves her family and begins her life in the home of her new husband's family. Most likely this is in part true, however it is more likely that a shimacho has a broader beginning and a less prosaic life. It is not unthinkable that a sliver of a neighbor's weaving found its way into a shimacho, or some such thing.
Often the striped cloth in a shimacho shows narrow stripes or small checks in dark colors. The reason for this is that in old Japan there were sumptuary laws which dictated how a person could dress and how they should conduct other aspects of their lives. Most of the population was only allowed to wear dark, somber colors and cloth showing very little pattern, if any. Therefore, shimacho usually reflect this societal dictate by showing scraps of hand woven cotton in dark colors.
This one contains lovely pieces of striped and checked hand loomed cotton cloth which date from the mid to late nineteenth century. A fascinating detail about the book that the swatches are glued into is that it appears to have been cut down from a wider book: have a look at some of the hand writing to see evidence of this.
A wonderful thing to own.