April 12, 2013

At The Shop: Tenugui

At first glance, one could see the tenugui as an interesting hand towel and nothing more. However, this multipurpose cloth has been a major part of Japanese culture for centuries. During the Heian period (794 – 1192 AD) the tenugui were used as accessories for Shinto religious rituals. The cloth was considered to be such a sacred item that they did not become widespread to the public until hundreds of years later. As their use became more prevalent, the samurai began to wear them in battle to keep the sweat from their eyes.

Once the tenugui were made available to the general public, their usage was increased even more dramatically. Farmers would wear them as headbands, but would also drape them over their neck to protect them from the sun. Blacksmiths would wear them as masks to prevent them from breathing in smoke as well as to polish finished products. When they were not being used for more practical purposes, the tenugui were commonly used to wrap gifts. Giving someone a gift wrapped in this cloth displayed a sense of appreciation and respect for the recipient. The tenugui maintains this strong symbolic and esthetic value.

In today’s society, men and women continue to use the tenugui in an even more versatile fashion. We are happy to bring this rich history to California and hope you will find the tenugui as useful and enjoyable as we have.

Come into the shop and purchase yours today.