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(JAPANESE DESIGN)

KATAGAMI STENCILS. Six Original Examples of KATAGAMI WORK.

Katagami stencils were hand cut (with knife, awl or small punch tool) on washi paper to produce patterns for dyeing innumerable items of Japanese cultural life from brilliant Kimono features for persons in all walks of life to obi belts and simple tea towels. The use of Katagami designs from nature or from geometric abstraction stretches far back into the country’s history. From the 16th century, at least, they have played a part in kimono designs and theatre costume and, by the Meiji period, many were exported to Europe, partly in response to the fashion for japonisme, for decorative purposes, not necessarily for fabric design. The examples offered here were found in France and, we believe, represent such Meiji period creations for export. The University of Middlesex Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture maintains a collection of katagami designs in its Silver Studio Collection ( https://moda.mdx.ac.uk/collections/collections-history/silver-studio-collection/) and contributions from Mamiko Markham on her research findings into Katagami. The Silver Studio collection is from the decorative arts studio of Arthur Silver who, in the late 19th century, collected katagami stencils for design inspiration, as did many other wallpaper and fabric houses of the time. (Silver actually framed some katagami stencils for mounting on the walls of his private home. The washi paper used, probably produced from thin layers of mulberry bark treated with persimmon juice, forms a perfect dark and surprisingly strong backdrop for the carved designs. One of the designs offered here shows the spider-web thin silk threads sometimes used to stabilize the cut design. There are many different techniques used in Edo and Meiji period to create large figurative designs and, also, as here, small and intricate abstract designs from nature. See also: Tuer, Andre. THE BOOK OF DELIGHTFUL AND STRANGE DESIGNS...ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE ART OF THE JAPANESE STENCIL-CUTTER. (6) Six examples mounted on cream coloured card stock measuring 34.5 x 45 cm; washi paper ranging from approximately 24.8 x 40 cm to 26 cm x 44 cm; hand-cut images, themselves, approximately 11.4 x 34 cm to 15 x 36 cm.

In excellent condition, with small faults here and there, either outer brown washi paper edges chipped and wrinkled or pin-holed from working, as is usual, or a very minor error in the working of the design, itself, ( one design has a small reinforcement in one of the small squares (approximately 1.3 x 1.3 cm). The minor errors in the design may be from previous dyeing and stencilling work, but these examples do not exhibit extensive use at all. A very handsome grouping. Mounted with transparent corners on cream coloured stock. One example shows the maker’s mark, barely visible (Marmiko Markam uses a microscope to view them).

ID#: 16828
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