October 30, 2008
Omi jofu is one of Japan’s most beautiful and highly regarded asa textiles. Along with the fabulously refined asa cloth called Echigo jofu from Japan’s eastern region (present day Niigata) and the as-fine-as-silk Okinawan asa cloth, Miyako jofu, these three types of hemp or ramie cloth are the most elegant hand woven asa cloth in the country.
Omi jofu is woven in Shiga Prefecture, which neighbors Kyoto Prefecture; omi jofu is made from both hemp and ramie, and the best examples are of hand plied yarns. In this child’s kimono, we see Omi jofu’s characteristic indigo dyed kasuri or ikat weave. This small kimono bears the lovely pattern of paulownia flowers, folding fans and plum blossoms, images that suggest delicacy and fortitude simultaneously.
It is important to note that the fine asa cloth from Echigo and Omi are both directly influenced by the kasuri woven in Okinawa, and the importance of Okinawan fabrics on the Japanese culture cannot be overstated. In fact, during the past centuries Echigo traded directly with Okinawa, and the impact of Okinawa’s kasuri on that of Echigo is evident.
Omi jofu, Echigo jofu and Miyako jofu are each very collectible due to their fine quality, and, as can be expected, each is highly priced and can be extremely valuable.