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Futon cover with turtles and family crest

Futon cover with turtles and family crest

Futon cover with turtles and family crest, Meiji period (1868-1912). Japan. Indigo-dyed cotton with stencil-applied and hand drawn paste-resist (tsutsugaki) decoration. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Newsom, B74M3.

Do you know why these ten turtles have long tails streaming behind them? In fact these are not supposed to be tails but seaweed— the result of a long life at sea. Turtles are a symbol of longevity and are used on many textiles with celebratory association. This four panel rectangular textile of hand-spun cotton was made to cover a futon, which would have been filled with fluffy cotton batting. This cover features the crest— a circle with three floral lozenge-filled hexagons— of the family that used it, indicating that this textile was custom made to order.