Japanese Blue: Art of Kawachi Textiles. 300
Years of Production of Traditional Japanese Indigo Cotton Textiles 30
The exhibition opened in the General Staff is organized by the State Hermitage Museum in cooperation with the Local History Museum of Yao city, and the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Kawachi Textiles (Yao, Osaka Prefecture, Japan), with participation of Osaka Prefecture Administration, Osaka City Administration and Yao City Administration, and with support of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japanese Consulate General in St. Petersburg, "Asachi" newspaper and the Osaka division of Japanese and Eurasian Countries Society.
Kawachi textiles, which started to be manufactured in Japan 300 years ago, are the cultural heritage of Osaka Prefecture, where local population cultivated cotton.
Due to its strength and longevity, Kawachi fabric was used in everyday life. Kimonos, bed linens and workwear were made from it. Initially textiles were one-colored, then masters started to decorate them with various ornaments, usually put against blue background. Their favorite designs included "chrysanthemum", "paulonia", and "peony and arabesque", which symbolized happiness. Bed linens were usually decorated with "phoenix" or "crane and turtle", which were the symbols of long life, wealth and family peace.
Striped Kawachi textiles known as "Kawachi zima" gained enormous popularity. Cotton threads dyed in various colors drew vertical lines and checks. Kimonos were usually made from narrow-striped fabric, while broad-striped textiles were used for bed linens. The Hermitage exhibition shows over 100 original objects made from Kawachi fabric.
The display includes materials from the famous cotton goods store Kitibe Menya and Menkiti - kimono with a familial coat-of-arms and furoshiki, a handkerchief to wrap things in.
Remarkable are dark blue cotton leggings, previously used in Japan by travelers and peasants, from the former cotton goods store Simazi. The white cotton glove displayed alongside them was used in farm works.
The rarest Sakamoto bed linens, dyed in indigo with the use of templates, are well worth attention. Their designs "crane, turtle, bamboo, plum and arabesque" - are the symbols of happiness. They are believed to be the wedding gifts for the wife of this houses head.
Five exhibits loaned for the Hermitage show by the Local History Museum of Yao city include bed linens with a phoenix design, executed in the very sophisticated tsutsugaki technique. Starch was stuffed into a tsutsu (pipe) made from Japanese paper or thick cotton material to protect paint, while designs were applied by the free hand.
A valuable addition to the exhibition are prints and posters showing the process of manufacturing the traditional Japanese textiles.