Tenugui

tenugui_geometric01

tenugui_geometric02

I’m immersed in thoughts of Japan …all this talk about furoshiki, dreaming of friends in Tokyo while I sleep, and wishing I was there right now for a week of Tokyo summer with my husband on his business trip … I miss it. Still.

It’s been almost two years since we left and seems like a lifetime ago. I must get back there some time, before it just becomes a figment of my imagination!

While we were living in Tokyo I fell in love with tenugui – a short length of printed cotton 33cm x 90cm. The name ‘tenugui’ indicates ‘that for wiping hands’, however it was originally used as a towel when taking a bath, or for covering the head like a scarf. Similar to the versatile furoshiki, tenugui can be used in multiple ways – used to wipe your brow on a humid day, as a kitchen towel, for wrapping, given as a gift, tied as a bandana, used as a handkerchief, or even ripped up into bandages (the edges are left unfinished). Tenugui are still used in everyday life in Japan – on the heads or around the necks of workmen, or in festivals, given as thank you gifts or handed out as promotional pieces for businesses. The uses are endless.

The printed patterns on tenugui immediately seduced me and were the main inspiration behind my initial interest in printed textiles. I’ve always loved the everyday object, the random or not so random array of overlooked details that surround us. When Japans Edo Period (1603-1868) saw the development of popular culture, fine designs based on features of everyday life were created in abundance. Graphic designs depict useful objects, kitchen tools, animals, even grains of rice! Some are simply geometric patterns.

Recently new, more cost effective digital techniques are being used for printing tenugui, but the traditional form of printing tenugui still remains, requiring skilled workmanship. The traditional technique results in a design that beautifully carries through the fabric, so the design appears on both sides.

I collected many tenugui while I was living in Japan. I couldn’t resist them! And of course now is the season for tenugui; during the hot and humid days and summer festivals, you can find different designs in abundance!

Here I’d like to share a few Tenugui that I particularly like from my collection. Some I use regularly, some are kept unused.

tenugui_kitchen01

tenugui_kitchen02

tenugui_organic01

tenugui_animals01

tenugui_everyday01

tenugui_everyday02

tenugui_everyday03

tenugui_everyday04

Soon, to follow on, I’ll post some material from my experience on a course in Tokyo
printing some tenugui in the traditional way.

9 Responses to “Tenugui”


  1. 1 kate austin July 30, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    wow these are just out of sight. i looooove them so much- so whimsical and lyrical and beautiful!!!! great collection! brilliant!!

  2. 6 Bec September 10, 2010 at 4:44 am

    These are so lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  3. 7 tina October 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    do you have any idea where i could purchase these tenugui online.


  1. 1 The making of ‘chusen’ tenugui. « spacetothink’s Blog Trackback on April 29, 2010 at 10:47 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Photos

View photos on Flickr and Instagram

Shop

Coming soon! Please contact directly.
© All Rights Reserved.

Please ask for permission before reproducing images or content. If you hold the copyright for an image or specific content and would like us to remove it then please contact us directly.

Follow spacetothink's Blog on WordPress.com

%d bloggers like this: