Japanese Stripes

The woven stripe has a long history in Japan and this history was passed on from generation to generation. Each home kept a sample book of patterns and the books became very significant for the families. These striped hand woven textiles reached the high point of popularity in the Taisho period (1913-26).

During the Taisho period another interesting thing was happening. Women were experimenting with all things Western. All that jazz. And men were painting them.

This Yamakawa Shuho’s ink and colour screen shows the convergence of the old and the new. The old stripes and the new stripes coming together. One of reviewers of the time wasn’t happy with the way the ladies seemed to be standing, not lying down. You can see the faint shadow of  the woman’s red bathing suit under her delicately striped blouse. The black, gray, and white texture in the modern girls’ hair is beautifully realised. Stripes everywhere. Circles everywhere. The floppy stripy wide brimmed hat points to a whole new world for women. Newly imported slacks and stripy jumpsuits with high waists and flared legs. Radical. Is that a volley ball shaped handbag?

Don’t you love the way the base of the umbrella sits at the top? A beautiful viewpoint. They are sitting on top of the picture plane and at the same time firmly in the sand as their very sweet sandals dig into the multi-coloured sand.

| Yamakawa Shuho, Relaxing in the Shade, c 1933, two-panel screen: ink and colour on silk |

It’s a girly thing.

Julia Ritson

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