An Itajime Dyed Silk Sleeveless Juban: Safflower Dyed

$295.00 USD

late nineteenth century
46 1/2"x 22 1/4", 118 cm x 56.5 cm

This piece-constructed treasure is not only beautiful in its own right but it is hand stitched from absolutely marvelous fragments of 19th century silk cloth, all of them dyed in safflower or benibana, a traditional dyestuff that offers a range of tones from pale yellow to orange to bright fuchsia, depending on how the dye was manipulated and how the cloth was mordanted after dyeing.

This is a juban or under kimono and it is pieced of fantastic old pieces of itajime cloth an elaborate dye process that uses hand carved boards and pressure to resist dye when the cloth is immersed in the vat. 

A tall stack of boards set in mirror image contains the entire bolt which is fed in between all the boards. The stack holding the cloth is secured and is then lowered into a dye bath: the parts of cloth that are highly pressurized by the raised parts of the boards resist dye.

Sometimes boards are carved and fitted with drilled holes which let dye in in  specific areas as is the case of the one offered here.

There are five separate itajime patterns on this piece--thrilling--and two of shibori. The lining is dyed both in benibana as well as a commercially-obtained red colored dye; the benibana of the lining is in good condition.

Benibana, being notoriously light fugitive is quick to fade or become mottled in tone from light exposure or contact with the body. This juban is remarkably free of these issues with the exception of one noted below.

The collar--probably added later--is hand embroidered.

The sleeves are missing.

As well there seems to an imprint from an electric iron on the back of the piece, hard to see when viewing the piece from a distance and rather unobtrusive in general. A detail of this is shown here, but it is not terribly noticeable when viewed overall.

Recommended for its age, its relatively good condition and for the absolute treasure trove of old itajime silks that composes it.