Tsutsugaki futonji



Bedding cloth with noshi design
Indigo cotton with freehand paste resist indigo dyeing
Meiji-Taisho period, ca. 1900-1920
H.: 183 cm – W.: 162 cm

When a bride got married two sets of futon were presented as part of her dowry. The bedding cloth is always decorated with auspicious designs. The design of this cloth is noshi, a kind of ceremonial paper which is attached to gifts to express “good wishes”. It was originally a thin strip of dried abalone wrapped in folded red and white paper. It was believed since ancient times that abalone was auspicious and brought longevity. As a result, noshi was a quite popular design for many objects of daily life.

Tsutsugaki is a Japanese term for the practice of hand drawing designs in rice paste on cloth, dyeing the cloth, and then washing the paste off. The rice paste is usually made from sweet rice, which is sticky and adheres easily to fabric because of its high starch content. The paste is applied through a tube (tsutsu) similar to the tubes used by bakers to decorate cakes.

For more information see the recent Tsutsugaki exhibition at the Musée Guimet in Paris.