Japanese Pictorial Ikats at the Fowler Museum

The indigo blue of blue jeans may be as American as an apple pie, but a small room at the Fowler Museum shows that indigo blue is also as Japanese as a kimono or futon. This focused exhibition is a selection of Japanese e-gasuri, cloth made through the art of ikat. Ikat is the reverse of tie-dye and resist-dying is used to put patterns on the yarn which then create astonishing well-planned images on the cloth as it is woven. The fabric was generally woven into lengths of 12 meters (the length required to make a kimono), but as the cloth was intended for daily practical use, the works here are mainly the remnants of used kimonos and futon covers from the late 18th century, which have been carefully dissembled. After examining the meticulous work required for the delightful images ranging from simple hatchwork to koi languidly swimming across the weave, there is a fresh appreciation for the intact kimonos and futon covers in the room (Fowler Museum, Los Angeles).

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