When going to Japan last year I were fortunate to visit the two biggest and most famous fleamarkets in Kyoto. One is held at the Toji Tempel on the 21 each month and is known by the locals as Kobo-san. Also on the 25 there is another fleamarket held at the Kita no Tenmangu Shrine known as Tenjin-san. It was at this last fleamarket I was so lucky to find my Saki-ori.
A Saki-ori is a rural clothing made in rags. I was surprised to see that the japanese have used rags to make these very simpel workwear, which I just love. In Sweden they are famous for putting rags into carpets, also known as "trasmattor".
In Kyoto I came across a stunning and beautiful gallery/shop Gallery Kei. Keiko Kawasaki, who is the owner, is collecting textiles made out of bast fibers. The textiles is known as Simple Textiles. In her gallery it is possible to find very exclusive Saki-ori, textiles from the Ainu people, SASHIKO stitch and much more. She has just started a webshop.
The simplicity of this workwear is so amazing. The beautiful shades in the indigo is fantastic. This Saki-ori have become one of my faourites in my own textile collection.
In the end of the fleamarket, I was so tired I almost went back to the hostel. Today I am glad I didn't. Just a couple of stalls left, I saw an old man having several old textiles. There my Saki-ori was hanging. Eventhough my Saki-ori is very simple comparing to what Gallery Kei have, I am so happy I found it. It was just hanging there waiting for me.
Today it is hanging in my bedroom with a big textiles, also in blue shades, from Kutch in India.
The vest is held together in the sides by a very simple SASHIKO stitch. When I saw this technique for the first time, I thought it was the deflected weave technique, but instead on a very plain background, people have been stitching all these beautiful patterns.
I can recommend two books about this, I am sure there are several more.
Riches from Rags. Saki-ori and other recycling traditions in japanese rural clothing. San Francisco Craft & Folk Art Museum.
Kogin and Sashiko Stitch. Kyoto Shoin's Art Library of Japanese Textiles. Vol. 13.