Tsutsugaki (筒描) is a Japanese technique of resist dyeing that involves drawing rice-paste designs on cloth, dyeing the cloth, and then washing off the paste.
The rice paste is typically made from sweet rice, which has a high starch content and is therefore rather sticky. The paste is applied through a tube (the tsutsu) similar to the tubes which are used by bakers to decorate cakes. A related process is to apply the paste through a stencil; that is called katazome. The cloth is typically cotton, and the dye is typically indigo, so the design is usually white on blue.
Meaning & Symbols
The designs are often creatures from Japanese mythology such as the crane or the tortoise, or a family crest, or a name (written in kanji). Flowers and trees are common motifs as well.
Indigo Cotton Rice
Tsutsugaki Textiles of Japan: Traditional Freehand Paste Resist Indigo Dyeing Technique of Auspicious Motifs. Kyoto: Shikosha, 1987. Text by Sachio Yoshioka; editor, Noriko Hirai; collector, Gensho Sasakura.
Reiko Mochinaga Brandon. Country Textiles of Japan: The Art of Tsutsugaki. Honolulu Academy of the Arts, 1986. ISBN 0-937426-22-9