An Overdyed Tenugui: Chuusen Dyed Hand Towel

$55.00 USD
mid twentieth century
35" x 12 1/2", 89 cm x 32.5 cm

This beautifully graphic textile has been dyed in a method called chuusen which relies on stencils and a primitive vacuum machine to transfer a pattern to the cloth.

This is a tenugui, a tenugui is a traditional cotton hand towel that is ubiquitous in Japan because of its many uses.  It can be used to mop sweat from a brow in summer; it can be worn on the head, kerchief-like, while working; it can be twisted and worn as a sweat band like sushi chefs do: there are endless ways to use a tenugui. This particular tenugui seems to have been unused and is quite heavily starched.

The chuusen-dyed design shown here is that of asanoha or the traditional hemp leaf pattern. As is the hallmark of chuusen dyed cloth you will see some faint or blurry gaps of dye in the edges of the pattern's dark areas, and it is this irregularity of dyeing which adds charm to chuusen dyed textiles.

Overdyed onto this base pattern are three clustered images that are composed of a hand drum, a Genji wheel and cherry blossoms, each of which is a traditional design suggesting elite and ancient Japanese traditions.

An unusually beautiful textile this is charming to look at.

An Overdyed Tenugui: Chuusen Dyed Hand Towel