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Archives for July, 2009

An Okkochi zome Yukata: “Dip Dyed” Shibori

July 30, 2009

Trailing ivy and a glimpse of lattice is the motif on this beautiful, late nineteenth/early twentieth century Arimatsu shibori yukata.  A yukata is an unlined, cotton kimono, worn for summer outings, during stays at hot springs, and at home.


This is an okkochi zome or “dip dyed” shibori technique: the desired pattern is stitched on the cloth, then, the stitched areas of the cloth are selectively dipped into the dye—-as opposed to the entire bolt being submerged in a dye vat.


The naturalistic effect of a trailing vine is beautifully realized.


This yukata shows a nice, airy pattern.  In old Japan yukata were worn on summer nights for strolls, for viewing fireworks and for other diversionary and casual activities.  That said, you’ll find a preponderance of  “light” and “airy” patterns on yukata which were intended to lend a cooling quality to the hot summer months. Patterns like streams, butterflies, delicate blooms and dragonflies, etc. are often found decorating yukata.okko1c

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A Tsutsu Forest

July 24, 2009

Today I am showing a “forest” of tsutsus.  A tsutsu is paper cone whose brown color is the result of the paper being saturated with kaki shibu, or the tannin of green persimmons.  A tsutsu is the drawing tool used in the free hand paste resist dyeing techinque called tsutsugaki: the cone is filled with rice paste which is applied directly to cloth; the tsutsu is used much in the same way as you would use a pastry bag in cooking or baking.


You may notice the decorative ball in the center of the photo: this is a temari, an elaborately wound ball of leftover threads that was originally conceived as a child’s toy.  This is an old one–probably about 75 years old, or more, and it’s one of the nicest I’ve seen.  I’ve written about temari before on this blog, and you can see those entries here. In this same archived blog, I talk a bit about the two curious figures that also inhabit the “forest,” that of Daruma, the “father”of Zen Buddhism in Japan and, a widely-loved figure in popular culture.


If these tsutsus interest you, I will be offering them on my website in the future, or write me at [email protected] for more information.


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