Sashiko: A form of decorative reinforcement stitching

Sashiko, literally means "little stabs" or "small stitches" and it is one of the most significant and noteworthy embroidery techniques using mostly the running stitch. Until the mid 20th century Sashiko was the traditional method of making garments for fishermen and farmers throughout Japan. So, Sashiko was primarily a form of functional embroidery or reinforcement stitching. Today, it is a form of decorative embroidery. 

Many Sashiko patterns were derived from Chinese designs, but just as many were developed by the Japanese themselves. The well-known artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) published the book New forms for design in 1825, and these designs have inspired many Sashiko patterns. 

Technique: Sashiko, is basically a quilting technique, used to sew together two layers of fabric. In Japan quilting is known as Sashiko. It can be also used to decorate or reinforce only one layer of fabric. As a quilting or embroidery technique uses small running stitches sewn in horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and curved lines.

The fisherman's quilted coat: As it was already mentioned Sashiko was primarily used to fasten together several layers of fabric and to make them stronger and wormer. One of the most well-known applications of Sashiko is the quilting of Japanese Fishernam’s coat, named the Sashiko no donza or Donza. Donza apart from a warm and strong garment symbolized the fisherman’s identity to outsiders and the status in his own community. This means that the coats were not worn while fishing, but rather while visiting town and friends, when assuming positions of authority on the job etc. Although, these coats are usually related with Japanese Fishermen there were also worn by farmers.

The decline of Sashiko no donza: The custom of the sashiko no donza declined in the 1920s, during the beginning of industrialization. Japanese fishermen began powering their boats with engines and started wearing westernized clothing. Inevitably women stopped making the running stitch coats. As in many other cultures, older people keep wearing the traditional costume. Many decades after, older fishermen could be seen wearing Sashiko no donza, as a sign of identity. The sashiko technique was adopted by many fiber artists in Japan and it is still a source of inspiration for many contemporary textile-artists.  

Spiritual protection: The sashiko, as many other embroidered techniques, was considered magical. The use of stitched patterns for spiritual protection may have originated with the Ainu people. The Ainu are an indigenous people of Japan and Russia and they believed that placing designs around the neck, sleeve openings, and hem of garments prevented evil spirits from entering the wearer’s body.

However, the embroidered and stitched garments as a form of protection can be seen in other aspects of Japanese traditional culture. For example, a stitched or patchwork pattern applied to the back neckline of a baby’s kimono was used to provide good luck or offer protection from evil or harm. During, World War II a belt stitched by a thousand women was thought to defend a soldier against enemy gunfire.

A woman’s skill: Sashiko, was practiced by wives and grandmothers, who created coats for their husbands and grandsons. Although Sashiko was mostly a type of domestic needlework, the finest coats were commissioned from skilled seamstresses. 



No comments:

Post a Comment