Vintage Nankeen Indigo
Nankeen indigo dyeing is quite similar to Japanese Katazome dyeing — most steps in the dye process are identical, with the main exception of the resist material. In Nankeen, the resist is soy paste, and in Katazome, it is rice paste. Chinese and Japanese artisans borrowed widely from one another in terms of of design and motif, as is evident in the many vintage samples we collect today.
Our collection hails from north eastern China, and our aim is to select pieces that best celebrate the use of traditional motifs. Our vintage textiles could have started life as a marriage bedspread, a prized component of a dowry, or as a wrapping cloth, used for storing clothing and goods.
Typical motifs convey good luck, prosperity and health; even the simplest print is full of symbolism. Historically, Nankeen cloth has played important roles in both daily life — clothing and bedding — and in ceremonial events at birth celebrations, marriages, and funerals. Though a staple cloth for thousands of years, few vintage samples remain; burning the clothing and bedding of the deceased was customary in funeral ceremonies.
We offer our textiles to clients both by the piece — for framing, wall hangings, and very delicate upholstery — and sewn into pillows. We take care to reinforce patches, to apply supportive knit backings to the pieces where necessary, and to gently clean and conserve the fabrics themselves. Above all, we love sharing these treasures with other textile enthusiasts.
Homespun originated in the cotton-growing areas of eastern China in the 1920s, as a compliment to Nankeen dyeing. Cotton grown locally was yarn-dyed by hand with natural pigments including indigo, mulberry, madder, and chrysanthemum. Next, local people would weave the fabric by hand on narrow wooden looms in the home. Checkered, hatched, and striped motifs were most popular. Homespun fabrics were widely used as clothing, pillow cases, bedspreads, and often in tandem with Nankeen; a typical bedspread would have paired a Nankeen top and a homespun bottom. The homespuns we use in our collections are all vintage, woven during the Cultural Revolution.