Kake-mamori

A traveler's amulet case

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Once upon a time, the subject came up on the Tousando on how best to carry one's personal items when portraying a Japanese. One can only stuff so much into the front of one's kosode and we ladies have it even worse since our sleeves aren't sewn up the back into convenient pockets!

Mobirise

This image from the Kyoto Costume Museum shows a woman dressed for travel. Hanging around her neck on a cord is a sausage shaped bundle identified as a kake-mamori. As far as I have been able to determine, this translates to "amulet case."

Of course, if I were really a lady of rank, I would have servants to shlep my things for me, but in practice, this is not the case. There are times when one simply must go to Merchant's Row and all that.

The following method should produce something resembling a kake-mamori that won't scatter your belongings all over an event site.This one is big enough to hold a billfold, set of keys and a cell phone since that's what folks seemed to indicate were most essential to be able to carry easily. There's probably also room for lip balm, a tube of Advil tablets and a couple of throat drops....

Materials: 

Two pieces of fabric about 12" x 18".

Two yards of round braided cord (this is long enough for you to have fudge room depending how short or long you want to tie the strap).

One piece of old cardboard tube from Christmas that hadn't made it out to the curb yet. (Yes. I know.) Interfacing would also work.

Mobirise
Mobirise
Mobirise

I sewed the fabric face to face around three sides, then turned it inside out. I marked a "pocket" on the lining and basted stitches along three sides of that, inserted the cardboard, then tacked the fourth side down.

At this point, it's simply a matter of folding the raw edges of the open side under and stitching that closed.

Mobirise
Mobirise

Next you turn it into a "Christmas Cracker". Roll the fabric around the cardboard inside the lining to form a closed tube. Knot off one end of your cord to prevent fraying, then tie it off tightly around one end. Pick up the tube, toss the cord around the back of your neck and see how high/low you'd like the finished kake-mamori to hang when you carry it, then tie the cord tightly at the right length on the other end. Make another anti-fraying end knot and cut off any excess cord.

Mobirise
Mobirise
Mobirise
Mobirise

I am pleased to report that no personal items were lost during Estrella War 24 when my kake-mamori went out several times for a field test. 



Copyright 2008, 2019 Lisa A. Joseph


2019. Yeah, about that green silk fabric. That's a pattern called sayagata, which appears in early east Indian architecture and finds its way to Japan via the importation of fashionable Chinese textiles bearing the pattern.
Sayagata incorporates a symbol that has been around for thousands of years. Known in Japan as the manji, it is associated with Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, and connotes well-being, good health and good luck. If you pull up Google Maps of any Japanese town, the manji is used as a map icon to denote the location of Buddhist temples.
To be perfectly honest, when I bought that fabric so many years ago, I just thought it would work for this project. If you're not looking terribly closely, you don't realize that those are even there. I certainly didn't at the time. Now, I can't not see them.
I can't wear something with swastikas on it. I can't use this as a teaching opportunity at SCA events where real Nazis are trying to twist medieval history and heritage to their own ends, when real white supremacists are committing acts of terror on our streets, in our schools and neighborhoods simply because they can. I can't, as the daughter of a German Jew whose parents were smart enough to emigrate before it was too late.
In Japan, it's just a manji, though the upcoming Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics have sparked debate about whether the manji will offend visitors from outside the country.
In the America I live in, it's not - and the projects I used that fabric for no longer leave the house.