An Old Katazome Sampler or Mihon: Six Elaborate Designs

$315.00 USD

late nineteenth century
60" x 13 3/4", 152.5 cm x 35 cm

This length of indigo dyed cotton katazome cloth shows six different patterns. It is part of a sample roll called a mihon. Sample rolls such as this one were used by katazome dyers or brokers to allow prospective clients to choose which pattern they would like to see on whatever cloth they were commissioning being dyed.

This one shows six designs in total, from rather often seen ones (the third, fourth and sixth from the top) to rather extravagant, unusual ones such as the top two designs.

The design at the top shows large-scale shrimp and what might be bamboo leaves and as can be seen there is a reddish and grey tone that were judiciously applied to the design. Shrimp were often used as an auspicious symbol because they symbolize a wish for longevity: very aged people are often bent-over in their later years, much as a shrimp appears. Bamboo symbolizes resilience as it bends but does not break.

Below this meaningful image is a large repeat design that shows cranes and pine in a symmetrical pairing.

Both the crane and the pine symbolize long life but the each also symbolize conjugal fidelity: the crane mates for life and from the pine, their needles fall in pairs.

The balance of the designs that form the rest of this remarkable design document are variations on the stylized chrysanthemum, an often-seen and very popular motif that was often used on bedding.

This length taken from a mihon was used as part of a futon cover and it is in good, used condition, with still-rich tones of indigo, rust and grey.