Saturday, October 11, 2014

Traditional Japanese Arabesque Patterns (Part I)
Art Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

There have been two other posts on this blogspot that have entered on Arabesque Patterns and for your convenience I have listed them below.
Traditional Japanese Arabesque Patterns (Part II)
Sarasa Arabesque Patterns (Part III)

Arabesque is a complex, ornate design of intertwined floral, foliage, and geometric figures. In Japanese it known as Karakusa. In general the Japanese variant consists of patterns of circular and elliptical shapes of stems and leaves drawn by an unlimited number of diagonal lines of simple and defined patterns, thereby creating an image of endlessly linked forms.

The simple type of Karakusa pattern can still be seen today in Japan on fabrics for items such as Furoshiki, ticks and various types of bags, which are an integral part of Japanese daily life. Hence it has become one of the most commonly used patterns in Japan.

An example of original cloth with medium-sized motifs used for everyday clothing of the common people.

The tome – “Textile Design In Japan: Traditional Arabesque”, Kamon Yoshimoto, Graphic-sha Publishing Co. Ltd., Tokyo (1977) - presents 550 stunning patterns. The book contains five categories, with today’s post concentrating on Indigo arabesque patterns (stencil dyed). This category contains 108 patterns. The overview below gives you just a glimpse of some of the Indigo arabesque patterns (stencil dyed) in this book - a must buy!

Brief History of Karakusa Patterns
The popularity of Karakusa patterns dates from the second half of the Edo period (1604-1867). The patterns were first introduced into Japan during the Asuka (592 – 710) and the Nara (711 – 794) periods via trade with the Chinese mainland. While the original pattern was called Karakusa, it was followed by more decorative patterns of Renge and Ungyo, the latter of which was worn by court nobles, aristocrats and priests.

With the advent of the Kamakura period (1192-1333) and with the samurai class gaining more and more power, the samurai began to use these patterned fabrics both for their everyday clothing as well as for their amour. When the tea ceremony began to flourish, the import of luxurious materials and Sarasa cloth dyed with Karakusa and Soka patterns were greatly supported by feudal lords, samurai and people of sophisticated taste. Even some of the rich merchants who were on good terms with feudal lords and samurai wore luxurious apparel, which eventually spread to the common people as a new fashion.

As peace reigned, the shogunate during the second half of the Edo period, issued a proclamation to the public from time-to-time warning them against indulging in luxury. As a consequence, the public began wearing cotton instead of silk garments. This caused a dilemma that needed to be resolved – how could cotton fabrics be made to look beautiful and how do you wear cotton garments with refinement? The Karakusa patterns were taken up in order to resolve this dilemma and so these patterns gained popularity in Edo (Tokyo), Kyoto and then finally swept the country. The Karakusa patterns were adopted for fabrics used for making articles such as mattresses, ticks, clothing, Furoshiki etc. and so infiltrate all aspects of daily life.

Since the end of the second world war, the use of traditional Karakusa patterns have been in a slow decline in Japan.

Indigo Japanese Arabesque Patterns (Stencil Dyed)

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 1.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 6.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 26.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 32.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 38.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 40.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 46.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 47.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 51.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 62.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 82.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 91.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 94.

Indigo Arabesque Pattern Number 103.

1 comment:


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