An Elaborately Sashiko Stitched Mat: Tortoise Shell Pattern
early to mid twentieth century
30 1/4" x 24", 76.5 cm x 61 cm
This beautifully sashiko stitched mat was said to have been used as a "hip" cover: this meaning is not terribly clear, but being that this textile is stitched together from six layers of cotton, and since it shows three loops on one side, it appears that it was used as some kind of padding for the body, probably while carrying burden.
The stitching is beautiful; it is a repeat pattern of kikko or tortoise shell, a traditional Japanese motif and often found in textiles and in sashiko stitching. The indigo dyed cotton ground of the back and the front of this piece is a beautifully worn checked cloth with some elements of small egasuri or "picture" kasuri shown in regular intervals.
Having obtained a beautiful patina from wear and age, and because of its beautiful network of sashiko stitching this is a really wonderful old Japanese folk textile and one to be considered by any serious collection.