Humble itajime

7 July 2007

While visiting my friend, Grace, yesterday I took a picture of some Japanese diapers she bought at Sri Threads in the New York City area. This is a narrow cotton sewn into a loop, you can see the seam on the left side.
itajime diaper 1.JPG
And a detail where one sees the gradiation within the design created by the diffusion of the indigo:
itajime diaper 1 detail.JPG
The SRI Threads website is another good place to be inspired by Japanese shibori textiles.


2 Responses to “Humble itajime”

  1. Elizabeth Merrill Says:

    This is a very traditional Japanese diaper, dyed with indigo. I’ve always thought this an interesting choice for a diaper, given that there is “blue diaper syndrom”. Indican, the precursor of indigo in Indigofera and Polygonum tinctorium (Japanese indigo), lives in the human gut as well. Here, from Wikipedia: “Indican is a colourless organic compound, soluble in water, naturally occurring in Indigofera plants. It is a precursor of indigo dye.”
    Indican is a glycoside. Its hydrolysis yields β-D-glucose and indoxyl. Reaction of indoxyl by a mild oxidizing agent, eg. atmospheric oxygen, yields indigo dye. Such a reaction is seen in individuals affected by the blue diaper syndrome, who exhibit a defect in tryptophan metabolism. Tryptophan is first converted to indole, then to indican by bacteria in the gut. Indican is then excreted into the urine and from there into the diaper where, upon exposure to air, it is converted to indigo blue dye.


  2. Karren Says:

    Very interesting! I’ve heard tales of the old Japanese taking indigo to prevent snake bite…. If it is made in some people’s guts it is likely to be tolerated.


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