Japanese and Chinese antiques and art from B & C
Japanese Katagami Stencil with Butterflies Medallions

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Textiles: Pre 1920: item # 782261

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P. O. Box 291
Derby, CT 06418

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Japanese Katagami Stencil with Butterflies Medallions

This hand-cut antique stencil paper known as “katagami” was used for traditional Japanese rice paste-resist dyeing for kimono and other textiles. Meiji/Taisho period, early 20th century. With two medallions comprised of open-winged butterflies on fine web mesh background, this intricately carved stencil was cut by a master artisan out of a mulberry paper base and treated with persimmon extract. One of the traditional methods of Japanese textile dyeing was done with these paper stencils which are themselves works of art. Craftsmen employed their supreme skill and artistic sensitivity to produce paper stencils of marvelous beauty and in some cases, nearly unbelievable intricacy.

The process of dyeing textiles from stencils is principally a resist technique which involves covering the area to be protected with a soluble rice paste applied directly to the fabric. After the application of the paste, the stenciler then carefully removes the stencil and moves it to an adjacent position to repeat the process, continuing the entire length of the yardage to be stenciled. “Katagami,” the special papers used in the process of stencil cutting, were made from the inner bark of the mulberry bush. Soaked in the juice of aged persimmons, two or three sheets were laminated together and smoke cured. After the paper was cured, the tannin from the persimmon juice formed a plastic-like waterproof coating which made the shiny paper stiff yet pliable and served to waterproof it against the dissolving effect of the water-based resist paste used in the process of dyeing. The cutting process required the utmost skill and the sharpest of separate knives for the different cuts required by the pattern design. Highly skilled craftsmen cut the paper using circular punches and knives to create elaborate patterns of minute landscapes, flowers, birds, insects and other detailed designs with extreme care and patience. Many designs took months to cut. (See “Traditional Japanese Stencil Designs” edited by Clarence Hornung.)

CONDITION is excellent.

DIMENSIONS: 17 1/8” (43.5 cm) wide x 13” (33 cm) high.

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