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Kaki Shibu Dyed Textiles

Written on November 28, 2009

Today I am showing some textiles that were “dyed” in the fermented juice extracted from unripe persimmons; this extract, called kaki shibu in Japan, yields a highly recognizable brown color when applied to cloth, paper and wood.
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Kaki shibu was very widely utilized in old Japan as it was easy to apply and its benefits were useful: kaki shibu strengthened  the material it saturated, rendered it somewhat waterproof, and was also said to contain anti-bacterial properties.

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Here we see a group of antique sakabukuro, or cotton bags that were saturated with green persimmon tannin and were used to filter crude sake.  If cloth is dipped many times in kaki shibu, a leathery look results from the build-up of layers of kaki shibu.

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Since sakabukuro were used and re-used many, many times over a period of several years, they required mending.  The mending stitches on sakabukuro are unmistakable, and the more mending there is, the more attractive the bag–in my estimation, that is.

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Below is a detail of the resist-dyed  noren or door cover which is shown in full in the photo at the top of the blog.  It is beautifully worn and faded, and it is discussed a bit more in detail, here.

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If you are interested in kaki shibu,  have a quick look at this website who supplies the tannin and offers workshops.

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2 Comments

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  1. Comment by Kit:

    This is so interesting. I love the warm brown color. The paper used for katazome stencils, shibugami, is also treated with persimmon tannin. It is a delicious brown color, and smells lovely too. I was amazed to learn (and experience) how the stencil is strengthened by soaking in water before use. Thanks for the info and link.

    December 6, 2009 @ 11:58 am

  2. Comment by nat:

    I know this is an old post, but I only discovered kaki shibu andsakabukuro on my last trip to Japan so when I posted about it on my blog I link it to here. I hope it’s ok – Hugs Nat

    June 30, 2011 @ 8:30 pm