Katazome Futonji, Stencil-dyed Bed Cover. Chrysanthemum Pattern.
Four-panel indigo-dyed cotton bed cover with pattern of chrysanthemum flowers and leaves. Good condition with some tears, including a 19” vertical tear (see photos.) Top cover only, no wadding or backing. Ca. late-1800’s, early Meiji Era. W.52”(132cm) x L.66”(168cm.)
Futonji, bed covers, were a common bridal trousseau item in feudal and early-modern Japan. They may have been made by the bride before marriage (in very rural areas,) or more likely commissioned by the bride’s family. The bed cover was often decorated with auspicious symbols of good luck, fertility, happiness, or long life. They could also be emblazoned with the bride’s or groom’s family crest, and occasionally a combination of the two. Patterns were created using a number of techniques including weaving, stencil and hand-dyeing.
Katazome dyeing makes use of hand-made paper stencils (kata gami) and a dye resist, usually rice paste or sometimes wax. The stencils were made of hand-made paper, generally of mulberry fiber, and stiffened by use of persimmon tannin (kaki shibu) and smoking. This technique has been used for centuries to create patterns on cloth, hide, and paper for clothing and many, many other items.