Katagami literally means “pattern paper” but refers to the handmade textile stencils that originated in Japan during the Nara period (710-794) that were used on leather warrior helmets. By the late 17th century the art of Katagami was regularly being employed for textile designs on kimonos, obis and futons. These designs are deeply rooted in Japan’s appreciation of nature and the strongly abstracted and stylized design elements involved express an unique aesthetic sensibility. The stencils are made from heavy washi (a type of mulberry fiber paper) which is thickened and strengthened with persimmon juices. After the paper was made a hard drying oil was applied to waterproof the paper and highly skilled craftsman then meticulously cut the design. Some patterns are so detailed and fine that they required 1000 cuts or openings per square inch. The patterns are especially delicate and a netting of fine threads made from horse hair, human hair or silk are used to give strength and added life to the designs. Unfortunately, the art of stencil cutting has almost disappeared today and earlier examples of this art are now virtually nonexistent. Except for a few private and museum collections only a limited number of these precious works have survived as the fragile papers and treads were destroyed or discarded after use.