Written on January 20, 2010
This set of eight books is a treasure. The books are the journals of a kasuri weaver/dyer from Omi, an area of Japan (present-day Shiga Prefecture) which produced some of Japan’s finest hemp and ramie kasuri textiles, known as Omi jofu.
The books date from 1859 through the beginning of last century. Within them are countless pages of sketches, notes, ideas, technical renderings and working drawings of the patterns and motives that will be dyed and woven by the atelier. This is a remarkable archive.
By looking at the entries in these books, one has an intimate view onto the mind of a kasuri weaver. Through these books we can see first hand how the weaver worked out patterns and plotted designs.
The paper of these books is extremely soft and pliable from wear. Obviously the books were handled a great deal during their lifetime.
The book, shown above, is a sample book of swatches of kasuri dyed asa (hemp or ramie) cloth along with some bold sketches: it’s not clear if the samples were woven by the owner of these journals, or if they were culled from disparate sources, to be drawn on for inspiration. Some of the patterns look remarkably like those from Okinawa, which is the artistic home of Japanese kasuri weaving.
Aside from the information conveyed to us by these books, each page displays a kind of artistry that can be appreciated even if the subject of this book is not known.