kyo chiyogami shima (Paper)

About this object

History of use

Papermaking originated on the Asian mainland and spread to Japan by 1500 years ago. For centuries Japan has produced the greatest quantity and variety of handmade paper or washi in the world. Traditionally, papermaking was a family or community enterprise which thrived in mountain farming communities where cold, pure water and wild bast fibre shrubs, such as mulberry, are plentiful. Washi is an important cultural symbol and holds a place in nearly every aspect of Japanese life. It is also a significant aspect of both Shinto and Buddhist rites and customs. Chiyogami was traditionally used for writing paper, poetry paper or for lining incense boxes or for wrapping cosmetics. It is presently also used for Anesama dolls, toys, artificial flowers and greeting cards. Although formerly an expensive luxury item, used only by high-ranking individuals, chiyogami later became less expensive, and a popular gift for young women in general. This pattern is an innovation of the maker.

Narrative

This is part of the Tesukiwashi Taikan, a collection of handmade paper published, in an edition of 1000 copies, in Tokyo as a project to commemorate the centennial of Mainchi Newspapers and to preserve Japanese handmade paper. A collection on this scale had not been made before. This collection consists of 5 boxes of mounted and labelled samples with an explanatory book in 4 of the boxes. The text is in Japanese and with less detail, in English. Compiled and edited by a special editorial staff of scholars. Published by the Mainchi Newspapers of Tokyo, Japan.

Cultural context

sample

Physical description

Washi sample mounted horizontally on white, labelled and folded paper with 3-pointed leaf above scrolled 'm' watermark. Rectangular multi-coloured woodblock print sample. Repeating pattern of vertical thick blue and thin red stripes and blue bands, all with irregular edges. The bands have diagonal lines both ways across to form a series of triangles. Red dots in each triangle. White ground and wide white border at right and at bottom. Smudged on left and right sides. Mounting paper folds from left over part of sample.