Spiritual Protection of Sashiko Stitching
Until the mid 20th century Sashiko was the traditional method of making work wear in fishing and farming areas throughout Japan.
Sashiko patterns stitched on garments were considered as spiritual protections besides its primary purpose of strengthening and giving warmth to the fabrics. It was believed that placing designs around hem of garments, sleeve openings and neckline prevented evil spirits to enter the human body.
Stitching applied to back neckline of baby’s kimono served as a talisman to safeguard an innocent area. Some garments had small stitched symbols hidden on the inside of the garment to protect vulnerable parts of the body. Those stitched symbols were even seen in men western style jackets in 20th century as I have seen them in my grandfather’s jackets.
Some Sashiko patterns have thousands of stitches crossing over. Those stitches are called me, or eyes. Me was thought to have strong powers for protection.
Female divers carried simply stitched tenugui, or towels to keep them from harm.
During World War 2, soldiers wore a wide belt stitched by thousand women to defend them from enemy’s gunfire, like the one below.