Recently, I could obtain a bunch of katagami, old stencil paper.
At first, some looked not so old, and the cut was not so fine but when I looked at them carefully after bringing them back home, I found, many of them were VERY old-some could be from Meiji or earlier and had very fine patterns.
The photos in this article are the ones among the katagami I got.
People who are familier with kimono dye procedure may know already, but these stencil paper for kimono patterns were all made in Ise area (Mie prefecture in western Japan)and sold to dyers all over Japan. They used these katagami for kimono patterns.
Kimono katagami size is around 30cm x 40cm(approx 11.8inches x 15.7inches). They dye around 20cm(approx 2.9 inches) at a time and do this procedure around 50 times to make put patterns on one kimono bolt.
The cut are just so exquisite, and the patterns are so beautiful. Only the people who continued a long time hard work could reach this stage, I think. The creative design look whimsical but it is unbelievable the up end and the bottom end match perfectly for the patterns to finish one kimono bolt.
It is as if there were no such small stencil paper, it is done as if there is no existence of the stencil craftsmen in kimono making procedure. Their existence were as if hidden.
There are people who grow mulberry, people who take care of silkworms, peope who spin, and people who weave. There are people who make indigo, people who dye deep blue, people who make washi paper, people who make kakishibu, persimmon tannin.
There are people who make looms, people who makes cutter knives--dyers, weavers, tailors, carriers and sellers... by all these anonymous people's effort, the work to make a kimono is accomplised.
Old kimono has no signature or stamps to show the craftsmen or designer's names. They do not call attention or leave the trace of their own. They just did their job, that's all..
People put names to everything now. Even the vegetables sold at the supermakets have the labels with the farmers' names and photos. That sells more.
And dyed products with elaborate work do not sell well now. Showing and appealing the names of the artists may help selling dyed products more with proper price.
However, we do not forget about all these craftsmen who made these katagami, and all other craftsmen who died nameless. They just did their job and passed the torch to the next craftsman. They just did their part perfectly and handed the work to the next runner.They must have been so proud of themselves and satisfied just by doing their part.
They must have been the real heros.