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  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    early 20th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woven indigo-dyed cotton with paste-resist painted decoration

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Japan, Room 45, The Toshiba Gallery, case 5

This colourful jacket would probably have been worn on a festive occasion. The motifs - a samurai helmet and arrows - are associated with the Boys Festival, which takes place on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The pattern has been created using a technique called ‘tsutsugaki’. In this method a design is drawn on the cloth with paste squeezed from a tube (tsutsu). The tube is made from paper treated with persimmon juice to make it water resistant; it has a nozzle of bamboo or metal through which the paste is extruded. The paste, made of rice flour, lime and water, forms a protective coating that prevents the colour penetrating when the cloth is dyed.

Physical description

Sleeveless jacket of indigo blue cotton bearing all-over large-scale motifs in light blue, red, deep pink, brown and white of a warrior's helmet, arrows, peonies and a karashishi (Chinese lion). The design is executed in a painted resist-dye technique - probably the 'cone drawing' resist technique known as tsutsugaki.
The jacket is simply cut in the usual Japanese style with a centre back seam and no shoulder seams. There are no inserts at the front but a long collar band extends almost to the bottom of the jacket. The collar band and the armholes are faced with undyed soft cotton which is sewn to the jacket with alternating long and short straight stitches in thick white cotton thread. These stitches have a decorative effect as they deliberately show on the right side of the garment. The armholes are open to a depth of 39 cms.
The jacket is unlined.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


early 20th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Woven indigo-dyed cotton with paste-resist painted decoration


Length: 76 cm, Width: 62 cm

Object history note

Purchased. Registered File number 1982/1022.

Descriptive line

Sleeveless jacket, woven cotton dyed indigo blue with large-scale resist-paste painted decoration, Japan, early 20th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Wilson, Verity, 'Country textiles from Japan and the Ryukyu Islands in the Victoria and Albert Museum', Orientations, July 1983, p.33, fig. 9.
Jackson, Anna, Japanese Country Textiles, London: V&A Publications, 1997, page 45, fig 26

Labels and date

Sleeveless jacket with military motifs

This colourful jacket would have been worn on a celebratory occasion, the military motifs suggesting the Boys’ Day Festival in May. The pattern was created using the tsutsugaki freehand paste-resist dyeing technique. The fine lines of the design are drawn on the cloth with rice paste squeezed from a tube. The paste forms a protective coating that prevents colour penetrating when the fabric is dyed.

Cotton with freehand paste-resist dyeing (tsutsugaki)
Museum no. FE.103-1982


Cotton (textile); Indigo


Weaving; Resist dyeing

Subjects depicted

Lions (animals); Arrows; Helmets; Peonies


Clothing; Textiles


East Asia Collection

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