Japanese American National Museum
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Senninbari (Thousand Stitches)

Sugimoto, Henry [ bio ]

Senninbari (Thousand Stitches)
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H: 64.5 in, W: 51.5 in, Frame: 64.5 x 52 x 1.25 in

New York, N.Y., ca. 1942


Gift of Madeleine Sugimoto and Naomi Tagawa, Japanese American National Museum


Stretched and framed.

Image of a ghostly outline of Nisei soldier standing in salute as he looks down at a woman holding up a senninbari with a thousand stitches (scarf of remembrance). She in maroon top and black skirt stands in front of a barbed wire fence with sign, "Block 2," in the foreground. The white scarf has a tiger's face and Japanese characters among the stiches. A rattlesnake is coiled on the other side of the fence, lower left. Dirt and dry grasses extend past the watch tower with soldier to the green trees in the background. A grey object lies in the grass next to the tower. Above trees, white crosses with one American flag appear on a field of blue at center, with red gold sky to either side. (Very similar to the painting entitled "In Camp Jerome", also by Sugimoto 92.97.9.)

Signed in medium, bottom left corner: H. Sugimoto Written on back: "Thousand Stitches" / by Henry Sugimoto ; Upper right (In Japanese): Senninbari / 1982 / HS, NY

In the years following World War II, Sugimoto revisited the subject of the concentration camps many times in his art. Often repainting compositions he created during the war, he translated many works onto larger canvases and inserted new details. Issei mothers prepared their sons for war by creating a senninbari, a protective talisman made of cloth. An image is sewn onto the fabric with a thousand stiches done by many women throughout the camp. Sugimoto's sympathy for both Nisei soldiers and their Issei parents is evident in this work.

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