katagami (Stencil)

About this object

History of use

The katazome method of dying fabric used a resist paste applied through a stencil; when the paste dried the stencil was removed and colour was applied by brush. The paste was then washed away leaving undyed areas to form pattern against coloured ground. Prior to the 16th century cut stencils were used to colour leather armour. However, during the Edo Period (1603-1868 C.E.) the technique was developed as a true native craft. The paulownia motif is used on the imperial crest.

Cultural context

fabric printing

Iconographic meaning

Paulownia tree: imperial emblem; phoenix: one of the four sacred creatures of Japanese lore.

Physical description

The dark rectangular stencil has a cut design of two phoenix and bunches of paulownia leaves surrounded by a scroll pattern. Register points are located along the edges of the design. There is a fan-shaped cutout in one corner. There are traces of Japanese script on the back.