Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Miscellany or indigo dyeing

There I was ready to start writing on Saint Beuno, stone circle under a church and Audhumula, when my eye happened to fall on the cloth on which the keyboard sat, and I remembered I had promised myself to take photos of the indigo cloths I found in the house, so they were hauled out and had their photos duly taken
The first three are obviously indigo dyed, and show the bleaching effect and uneven colouring of the dyeing process, they are grouped together because of the chrysanthemum motif. The woven surface of the rough cotton is patchily dyed, of course with modern dyes this would not happen, but the natural colouring of these clothes is rather beautiful.

The camera shows in the following photo how a modern look alike indigo dye is really not anywhere near the original colour having slightly purple tones.

A different pattern and a much stronger use of indigo ...The cloth was yellow when first dyed, and then the pattern stencilled in, and a paste resistant substance applied to the stencilled areas, after which the cloth would be dyed again in indigo.

The next three aprons are 'shop' aprons, and have the motifs for the trade of the shop printed on each one.

This one is for a cake shop, and the character letters on the bottom are the telephone numbers, the last three, 432. As there are only three numbers, it probably dates from the beginning of when phones were first introduced into Japan.

Again a cake shop apron, the phone numbers have increased, perhaps the apron is about 70 years old

This apron is comparatively modern, it has a zip pocket, and is the apron of a 'fish sausage' maker (rolled up fish to look like a sausage on a wooden board)

This is a work coat. Work coats were heavy affairs, and some of the most interesting were the 'fire coats' worn by the firemen, having stitchwork (Sashiko stitch) patterns applied to them, the firemen and their coats were soaked in water (the coat could weigh up to 84 lbs when saturated) and this helped to protect them. The above is not a fireman's coat, but its loose easy fit must have been comfortable to wear. And if ever I get a moment I shall weave some cotton cloth to make one!
Further investigation reveals that the above coat is all hand sewn, and that the characters represent a surname (Valley Mouth - which is common), and that one character represents '8', which could be a shop name. The bottom band of abstract design could be Ainu inspired.....

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