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Japanese Fisherman’s Coats from Awaji Island

Japanese Fisherman’s Coats from Awaji Island

April 21, 2002 – July 28, 2002

Fishermen living on the island of Awaji in Japan’s Inland Sea wore beautiful coats (donza) made from quilted layers of indigo-dye cotton cloth. The most elaborate were quilted with white cotton thread in intricately stitched patterns (sahiko). They ultimately evolved into a symbol celebrating the role of the fishermen in Awaji society. Traditionally produced by women, the coats (called sashiko no donza) stopped being made in the 1930s as young fishermen began to wear standard Japanese or Western clothing. This exhibition presented twenty-two rare sashiko no donza from Awaji collections, and explored them in the context of local fishing history, their use as works clothes and fancy dress, their simple modes of construction, and their eye-dazzling ornamentation. This nationally traveling exhibition was co-organized by the UCLA Fowler Museum and the University Art Museum, UC Santa Barbara.

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