An Itajime or Kyoukechi Dyed Han Juban: Asa no Ha Pattern
late nineteenth, early twentieth century
25" x 26", 63.5 cm x 66 cm
This marvelously decorated, piece dyed garment is a cotton han juban, or a half under garment which has been dyed in the itajime or kyoukechi method.
Using this technique, cloth is pressed between two carved boards in order to allow pressure to stanch the flow of dye so a pattern will be imprinted onto the cloth. A look at these ingeniously crafted boards can be seen here.
Note the regular appearance of a red, horizontal line within the repeat pattern: this shows where the cloth was exposed to the dye bath because this area was not being pressed by the carved boards. This is a distinguishing feature of itajime dyeing.
The cotton is gauzy and light. The collar is of heavier cotton and shows some ingrained marks of dirt. Likewise, on the proper front of the garment, on the left and the right side, near the shoulders, there are exceedingly faint stains the size of peach pits, almost impossible to see.
The pattern that is dyed onto the cloth is very traditionally Japanese: it is the hemp leaf or asa no ha pattern.
The dye is not botanical, it is what would have been a newly introduced German synthetic dye at the time of this han juban's making.