An Intricate Patchwork Hemp Komebukuro
This is a beautiful and masterfully handcrafted komebukuro, or festival rice bag. This bag was used to carry offerings of dried rice to temple and shrine festivals in old Japan.
It is made of different types of hemp cloths skillfully arranged in a bold geometric patchwork. Among the pieces are indigo dyed kasuri, probably Omi jofu, a very fine, handwoven hemp or ramie cloth from Shiga Prefecture. The lighter brown fabrics appear to be akaso kasuri made and dyed from a plant fiber native to Japan. Solid hemp pieces dyed in a coral red and pale blue set the kasuri pieces off beautifully. The base of this bag has another surprise—an interlocking six pointed star.
It is clear this bag was well loved. The inside is lined. The drawstring and loops are intact and appear to be original to the bag. There is wear and signs of use, particularly along the base. A few small holes can be found throughout but do not detract from an altogether amazing example of komebukuro.
Dimensions: 7.9 x 7.9 x 7.5 inches; 20 x 20 x 19.0 centimeters
Mid nineteenth century