Condition: Excellent, Great

Japanese Antique Tsutsugaki Boro Yogi | Traditional Country Sleeping Garment | Meiji Era, Pre1920s

This is a beautifully composed and executed design of a Japanese textile called a Tsutsugaki Boro Yogi, or Sleeping Garment, used like a blanket for warmth. This gorgeous large yogi is patched and mended (see images) as are most from this era. It is devoid of its original layers of fabric, lining, cotton batting, and appendages (collar and sleeves). What we see is a massive and wonderful boro yogi, that in person, commands a great and powerful presence. In the center of the yogi is the family crest (mon) of the 5-3 Paulownia leaf. Surrounding the mon, and filling each of the panels are tsutsugaki drawings representing the “three friends design” of Plum, Pine and Bamboo with the 5-3 Paulownia family crest in colors of indigo, white and pink. This yogi is constructed in four and a half, (4-1/2), panels of hand spun woven cotton (extra panel making the sleeping kimono larger for nighttime comfort (image #6) or when used as a decorative element in combination with a futon cover (see image #7). Each individual panel is sewn together lengthwise which is another characteristic of yogi construction. This is the only way authentic yogi were made in Edo/Meiji Japan because loom widths were narrow, typically 12 to 14 inches.

This Tsutsugaki Boro Yogi were created to form part of a bride’s wedding trousseau which parents prepared for their daughter extending good wishes for the success of her new family as well as her happiness. Great care was taken in their design as they were regarded as necessary for an auspicious future. The medium to heavy weight yogi is in excellent/good condition, (slightly faded to lustrous softness), for its age and usage, and incorporates the mottainai philosophy of never wasting anything of beauty and usefulness.

Pieces like this are quite rare and highly sought after in any condition by ‘mingei’ collectors, textile historians, and museums. It has been said that, “The beauty of Japanese yogi is in what you don’t see”, and this is an excellent example of the family’s appreciative observation. The age of the piece can be identified by several factors including construction, and the kanji, since the kanji style of the characters have evolved over time. Dimensions: 54” w x 70”L

Additional Information—
Japan has an extremely rich textile history. By the 17th century Edo period, the Japanese weaver had a variety of dyes available. The most widely used dye was indigo, extracted from the leaves of the indigo plant. Historically, the color indigo is very important, for it was stipulated as “the color of the merchant and farming people of the Edo period”, when Japan was cut off from the rest of the world for 250 years. Fabrics such as this were dyed in deep vats, (see image), using the techniques of tsutsugaki (rice-resist, freely-drawn designs applied through a cone or tsutsu). A related process called Katazone can also be used to apply the paste with the use of a stencil but the tsutsu produced much softer and painterly qualities in the drawings.

And finally, as noted the crest on this Yogi represents the 5-3 Paulownia (according to the only authority on the subject, there is an infinite variety of graphic interpretations of the Paulownia because of its large use). Being the most popular of all Japanese crests, the Paulownia, in general, bears a heavy load of legendary and historic significance. This mon was used by powerful daimyos, their extended families, their servants, shopkeepers of businesses owned by the daimyo, and the defenders of the daimyo and his empire.

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