Sweat Protector (koyori Ase-hajiki) (Japan), 1850–60
Medium: paper Technique: 4-strand plaiting with 2-strand twists Label: Plaited paper. Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund. 2009-36-2
What is this?
Vest which opens at the front; fronts connected to back by two twisted strands on each side. Hexagonal mesh of plaited recycled paper; handwriting on the paper reads as irregular black spots.
Why is this in our collection?
Woven textiles made from paper originated in 16th century Japan, where these paper cloths (shifu in Japanese) were most likely developed by the impoverished rural population for lack of other materials. With few raw materials available, farmers originally cut the pages of ancient account books in order to turn them into shifu weaves. The ink writing on the paper also remained visible on the finished fabric, leaving an interesting speckled pattern. Soon, this cloth attained a more prominent place in society as samurai refined the technique by means of sophisticated and elaborate folding, cutting, and spinning processes, in which the finest threads could be manufactured and woven into noble cloths. These paper... more
Artist Sue Lawty examines the shifu (paper cloth) sweat protector and discusses its unique qualities. Lawty explored the Cooper Hewitt collection as part of her Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.
This object has been included in the following exhibitions: