Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Delicate Intensity

 [Image via Sri Theads.]

Our textile of the day is an old Japanese hand-woven cotton from Sri, the Brooklyn-based gallery. In his recent post, dealer Stephen Szczepanek describes the floral cloth as having a "delicate intensity" similar to batik. It seems implausible, but it feels rich yet kind of "soft-spoken" to me, too. The 19th-century dyes used include indigo, an earthy bengara (Stephen explains that this is an iron-oxide-based dye) and a grey-ish black dye. I've read that the term bengara most likely relates to iron oxide originating in Bengal, India. See more and read all about the Japanese piece here.

Related reading:

Japanese Art and Design (new edition)
Blue Nankeen
Sari to Sarong


redbrickbuilding said...

This is so lovely. I know just what you mean by "delicate intensity". Thanks for sharing it.

Emile de Bruijn said...

Great pattern - it uses only two blues and an orange, but seems to suggest many more colours. Is it known what plant it represents?

the modern sybarite ™ said...

this is amazingly beautiful. love the indigo blue tones and design!

Style Court said...

Emile --

Great point about the illusion of more color and great question. I'm not sure. Stephan puts it under the karakusa umbrella -- stylized arabesques. This link mentions the plants/flowers most commonly used:

Style Court said...
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Style Court said...

RBB --

So glad you like it!

Style Court said...

Modern Sybarite -- the indigo tones are so appealing in the dog days of summer, aren't they?

Karena said...

What a wonderful way to describe this textile, I love the color palette!

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Tokyo Jinja said...

I think the print might actually suggest the influence of European document print textiles...they are not traditional Japanese flowers. The late 19th century saw the import/export of everything and Indonesian batiks were in use for kimono by then as well. Change the colorway and make it linen and it could even be a modern day Bennison fabric!

Style Court said...

Hi Jacqueline,

This detail view really shows the surprisingly naturalistic rendering Stephen talks about and that also makes me think of the Indian exports to the far east highlighted in Sari to Sarong -- so an Indian influence. But the long view of this piece really shows the classic arabesque too.

I know what you mean about the benison look!

Style Court said...


Meant to type "Woven Cargoes". So many gorgeous examples of Indian textiles favored in Japan!