DESCRIPTION: Three rare Edo Period (c. 1790 – 1810) festival banners, hand woven of hemp and decorated with colored zodiac animals dyed in the freehand paste resist technique, tsutsugaki. To remain upright and highly visible in parade processions, these tall banners would have been mounted on poles from the top and along one side using a series of fabric tabs attached to the banner.
These striking banners are distinctive for their dynamic composition, energetic brushwork and ingenuity of design. Two artistic techniques were employed in crafting these banners. The first, tsutsugaki, is a resist-dyeing method. Outlines of the design were applied with starch paste, which dye cannot penetrate, leaving white outlines. Then a calligraphy brush was used to apply ink directly to the textile. Seven zodiac signs are depicted on the lower half of the banners; a bull, goat, snake, rabbit, boar, dog and rooster. The upper half displays the Mon (family crest) of the Maruni Chigai Takanoha clan, represented by two crossed falcon feathers within a circle.
ABOUT TSUTSUGAKI: Tsutsugaki literally means 'tube drawing.' An artisan draws directly onto taut cloth by pushing thick rice paste out of a tube, not dissimilar from a Western pastry bag. This water resistant tube (or tsutsu) is made of mulberry paper treated with persimmon juice. Once the drawing is rendered onto cloth, a soy-based sizing is applied allover before dying. Tsutsugaki was the most popular Japanese dyeing and weaving technique from 1800 - 1940, and the technique is noted for its beauty of line and form.
CONDITION: These banners, over 200 years old, are in remarkable condition with good color and only one 6" stitched repair, located at the top center of the middle banner. Two of the small red felt triangles at the right corners have moth damage but with no damage to the hemp fabric beneath. DIMENSIONS: Each banner is 100 ½” long (8’5”) from the top tabs to the bottom; they are 13 ¾” wide not including tabs. Metric measurements: 2.55 meters x 35 cm each.