10 Ise Katagami Paper Stencils [型紙]. [Japan]. [Taisho Period]. Set of 10 intricate katagami 型紙 paper stencils that vary in size. 2 large stencils are approx. 41.5 x 41.5cm, 4 medium size stencils are approx. 30 x 40.5cm and 4 small stencils are approx. 15.5 x 22cm. All are in a shade of brown and are Japanese katagami paper stencils in an abstract, floral or botanical design. The stencils are made from layers of washi 和紙 (traditional Japanese handmade paper) and glue (called kakishibu 柿渋) that is extracted from persimmons, which give the stencils their signature brown hue. Katagami is also known as Ise katagami 伊勢型紙, named after the area of Ise (now Mie Prefecture) where they were made and used. Some of them have a very fine lattice made of human hair or the equivalent, that hold the designs together.
Stencils were traditionally used on silk or cotton cloth to decorate hand towels, obi or clothing or on paper or objects, such as fans. The main ingredients in the glue are glutinous rice, rice bran and water. Sources attribute the roots of katazome to as early as the late Nara Period (710-794), but certainly by the Kamakura period (1185-1333) it was being used to dye textiles for clothing. It later became an artistic medium in its own right in the Edo (1603-1868) and Meiji periods (1868-1912).
One of the stencils was previously used and, interestingly, has metallic silver and gold paint on one side. A few stencils have a round whitish mark at the edge on the back or front of the stencil. A few small cuts and a few tiny missing pieces to the stencils, one has a section of broken screen, making it easier to see how it was constructed.Stencils are otherwise in very good condition. An intricate and fragile art form that has all but disappeared in Japan.