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the series title Hyakunen no Hana and print title Senninbari in karazuri (‘blind-printing’) on upper left margin, signed in kanji, Bin-ni at lower left followed by red artist’s seal Binnie, numbered and signed in pencil on the bottom margin, 33/100, Paul Binnie, ca. May 2014
dai oban tate-e 18 1/2 by 13 1/4 in., 47 by 33.5 cm
In this the fifth design for the Hyakunen no Hana (Flowers of a Hundred Years) series, the artist approached the turbulent decade of the 1940s through the eyes of a young pilot’s wife. The title, Senninbari (A Thousand Stitch Belt) refers to cloth belts that were quilted with a thousand stitches from a thousand different women that were given to soldiers as a protective talisman. Based on Shinto beliefs possibly dating to as early as the 17th century, senninbari could be prepared by a mother, sister or wife, and were sometimes decorated with images of tigers, patriotic slogans, or phrases evoking good luck in battle. Locks of hair or coins could also be tucked in the lining for added potency. Strips of fabric were printed with a thousand circles to aid in the collection of the correct number of stitches, and women would position themselves in public places to solicit donated stitches from other woman passing by.
The subject was inspired by a 1937 print by Iwata Sengai, Women with Thousand Stitch Belts; and a poster for a song of the Dai Nippon Kokubon Fujin Kai (Greater Japan National Defense Women’s Association) as noted on the sash worn by the young woman. She has positioned herself in front of a Japanese flag and holds a needle up expectantly- likely she is at the entrance to a train station or some other busy thoroughfare. She also wears a kappogi (lit. ‘cooking wear’) over her kimono, a pinafore-like apron which helps identify her as a homemaker. As with the other prints from this series, the print is embellished with gold leaf, silver and bronze metallic pigments and employs approximately 30 printed colors. Tiny embossed and silver-printed airplanes on the collars of her two kimono suggest that her husband is a pilot.