Antique Japanese Textiles

Antique Japanese Katazome Indigo Resist Dyed Futon Textile | Meiji Period


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 54” w x 70”L 

This is a beautifully composed and executed design of a Japanese textile called a Katazome. The gorgeous design on the 100% cotton fabric is referred to as tsutsugaki (wax resist, freely-drawn designs applied through a cone, (tsutsu). What we see is a massive and wonderful textile, that in person, commands a great and powerful presence. In the center 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 Katazome/Futon Textile is constructed in four and a half, (4-1/2), panels of hand spun woven cotton and used as a futon cover that has been sewn together lengthwise. 

Pieces like this are quite rare and highly sought after in any condition by ‘mingei’ collectors, and textile historians. It has been said that, “The beauty of Japanese Katazome 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. This Futon has hanging straps on the top that makes a stunning and visually dramatic wall display for presentation of a Japanese cultural work-of-art. 

Vintage Condition: The medium weight fabric is in very good condition, (slightly faded), for its age and usage, and incorporates the mottainai philosophy of never wasting anything of beauty and usefulness. The piece has a few varying size mending patches, as are most from this era. 

NOTE: 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.