Help me identify this Japanese string art!
January 7, 2012 8:00 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend received two pieces of art that came from a trip to Japan in the late 1940s/early 1950s. They're basically woven pictures, made from thin, dyed string. The thing is, we can't find any information on this type of art. Can anyone help shed some light on what it is? More details inside.

Here's a sample picture, somewhat up close. The pieces weren't very well preserved, which is why the colors on that are so washed out. The water at the bottom of the image, for example, would have been a much brighter blue.

For what it's worth, I tried searching in both Japanese and English. (We are both decently proficient in Japanese, so any sources in the language would be fine.)
posted by gchucky to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I may be wrong - but it looks like Bunka Shishu.
posted by peagood at 8:09 AM on January 7, 2012

Another vote for bunka shisu, a type of needlepunch embroidery. Most examples are done with short stitches, which gives a bumpy texture like the fuzzy letters on varsity jackets. But running stitches are also possible, which are longer and give a smoother texture like in your picture. Here's a video showing how to do running stitch bunka embroidery.
posted by Quietgal at 8:22 AM on January 7, 2012

If you look closely, the whole thing is embroidered, the background and all of it? I have one like that! I got it in China, and it also was made in the 1950s. I was told that it is Su embroidery (or Su Xiu, or 苏绣), from Suzhou, China. They were popular items to sell to US military people during the Korean and Vietnam wars as gifts to take home.
posted by Houstonian at 10:48 AM on January 7, 2012

Response by poster: It does seem like bunka shishu. Hadn't heard of that until now. Thanks, guys!
posted by gchucky at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2012

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