I have recently become
interested in Asian textiles, especially Japanese ‘tsutsugaki’
For those of you unfamiliar with this technique, I include a
"Tsutsugaki (筒描 is a Japanese term for the
practice of drawing designs in rice paste on cloth, dyeing the cloth, and
then washing the paste off.
The rice paste is typically made from
sweet rice, which has a high starch content and is therefore rather
sticky. The paste is applied through a tube (the tsutsu) similar to the
tubes which are used by bakers to decorate cakes. A related process is to
apply the paste through a stencil; that is called katazome.
cloth is typically cotton, and the dye is typically indigo, so the design
is usually white on blue. Banners for shops or other purposes are
sometimes made in this manner.
The designs are often creatures from
Japanese mythology such as the crane or the tortoise, or a family crest,
or a name (written in kanji). Flowers and trees are common motifs as
Items that include this
technique are ‘furoshiki’ or cloths used to wrap things, ‘futonji’ or
futon bed covers, ‘tansu’ or furniture covers, and clothing such as
Typically, items are homespun and home dyed cotton. Most
are woven in narrow bands which are then joined to make the final item.
I particularly like green dyed pieces - here is an example of a
furoshiki wrapping cloth that I own. In one corner is a ‘kamon’ or family
crest and in the other, Japanese kanji script, most likely the name of the
And here’s a tansu
cover that measures 7 x 4 feet.
Items date from the 1800’s
right up to present day. I would guess my pieces are from around 1920-40.
Tsutsugaki pieces command widely different prices as do other rugs
As I am a novice, I was hoping someone could
shed some light on how to date these pieces. Colour? Thickness of cotton?
Design? I am confused as I have seen very similar looking pieces priced
And how would one tell the difference between a
tsutsugaki and a katazome? The precision of drawing?
would be most welcomed.