Kogin – working from pattern books (1)

July 5, 2009



Kogin needlework is not widely practised in the West and source material is not easy to come by, whether those patterns be authentic Japanese designs or contemporary Japanese designs or contemporary Western designs.

This book is entirely in Japanese, including all the colophon details. It has the feel of the 1970s or 1980s about it, a period when books on  traditional Japanese craft began to be published for a mass market keen on the nostalgia of previous generations and disseminating ‘studio secrets’ no longer directly linked to the traditional method of either apprenticeship or studio ‘learning’.

After four pages of history and background, including a map of north Honshu, there are some thirty-five odd pages of patterns and black-and-white photos of the finished pattern, at around two or three per page. They are strongly authentic, traditional-looking all-over patterns. A further ten pages follow with more patterns but with modern applications in mind, such as purses and zippered containers. Only in the very last two or three pages do we have the large single diamonds set against a plain background, which is really the sign of modern late-20th century kogin, both in Japan and in the West.

On pages 34 and 35 there are three patterns which are derived from the ‘flattened diamond’ of Nambuhishizashi. In the lack of any proper more comprehensive Nambu Diamond patterns, these are a good start to the style.

Highly recommended, given that it sticks really quite close to the authentic Japanese kogin aesthetic.

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