This silk kobukusa of khaki features a very subtle houndstooth pattern that was believed to be a favorite of Sen-no-Rikyu (1522-1591), the tea master that perfected the austere tea practice known as wabi-cha that continues to this day. The original of this cloth was believed to have been selected by Rikyu to be used as a pouch for the tea container named “Matsuya” (Fuzhou ware 13th-14th century) and is currently under the care of Nezu Museum in Tokyo. Kobukusa are used as a small mat during tea practice but could be used similarly as a mat underneath a special vase or item.
Kitamura Tokusai has been making silk cloths, or fukusa, for practitioners of tea since 1712. Their elegant textiles are among the finest woven silk fabrics available in Japan and are made by highly skilled weavers in Kyoto’s historic Nishijin area. Kitamura Tokusai’s inventory of fabrics features over 400 patterns of historical significance, many of which were expressly favored by the founders and most prominent devotees of Japan’s tea culture. The Kitamura family continues to warmly welcome tea and textile enthusiasts to their Nishijin shop by hanging a fukusa, a symbol of hospitality, in the entrance.