An Unusual and Beautiful "Tsutsugaki Dyed" Panel: Rabbits and Waves on Woven Stripes
late nineteenth, early twentieth century
53" x 26", 134.5 cm x 66 cm
This is an extremely unusual textile for its technique. It is exceedingly rare to see a "tsutsugaki" dyed textile created using a pre-dyed cloth, in this case it is a woven striped fabric.
Classic tsutsugaki dyeing is a resist technique wherein an artisan draws a design directly onto an undyed cloth in order to resist the areas he draws. Successive dips in a dye vat and successive resist drawing to the cloth create a complex, pictorial image that often shows gradient blues and then hand tinted colorful areas.
In this case, the amazingly animated and very beautifully rendered image of a rabbit skipping through the ocean is not done with dyeing but with some kind of bleaching or discharge method: the image was created directly on an already-dyed striped base cloth and the image appears by removing the color from the base.
This is impressive because of the details--have a look at the swirls and embellishments in the wave to see how delicately this bleaching method was used. Hand painting was the technique used to create the rabbit image at the center of the composition and compared to some awkwardly rendered rabbits on other tsutsugaki textiles, this one is beautifully drawn.
Two family crests appear at the top of the cloth and one at the bottom.
Not only is the image on this cloth extremely beautifully realized, the technique used to create is highly unusual.