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An Indigo Dyed Kuzufu Vest: Kudzu Fiber Cloth

Written on July 12, 2010

Yes.  Kudzu. The bane of gardeners and municipalities in the American south where this plant is an invasive weed, overtaking and consuming tracts of plants and trees in gardens, fields and on highways.

But in Japan, where this plant is native, it was used to make cloth–very often for elegant clothing–and is processed to make edible starch.As early at the 14th century, it has been recorded that kuzufu or kudzu cloth, was made in Kakegawa in Shizuoka PrefectureKuzu fiber is flat and has a sheen; in this regard it resembles an elegant cousin to woven raffia.  The benefits of the cloth is that it held up well, didn’t soften and dried quickly.  It was used to make traveling capes and elegant hakama for aristocratic clients.

In these photos, above and below, I am hoping to show the quality of the kuzu fiber, which is very distinctive, mainly, as mentioned above, because is is very flat and does not appear to be spun.

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  1. Comment by india Flint:

    kudzu also yields a beautiful green dye

    http://prophet-of-bloom.blogspot.com/2010/06/its-been-pretty-intense-fortnight-here.html

    perhaps there’s an economic boom lurking in it, waiting to be unleashed
    kudzu-dyed kudzu cloth???

    July 12, 2010 @ 8:45 am

  2. Comment by paula:

    India read my mind: it’s only a weed if you treat it like one. ^^

    Stunning color and texture. who knew?

    July 12, 2010 @ 9:32 am

  3. Comment by glennis:

    wow- i love a fiber that takes the dye like that- all light and dark and shows the character of each strand. kudzu- we’ll have to let some friends in GA know about this- they are waging a all out war on the plant in their area! in the wet summer heat apparently you can watch it grow before your eyes!

    July 12, 2010 @ 10:48 am

  4. Comment by kaite m.:

    it also makes an excellent handmade paper, i’d like to find some growing around here at Bathurst.

    July 12, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

  5. Comment by velma bolyard:

    hey, stephen, this is a lovely garment. really beautiful cloth.

    July 15, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

  6. Comment by Laura:

    Beautiful!

    July 19, 2010 @ 8:41 am

  7. Comment by Tara Lane:

    I have been using kudzu as a replacement for corn starch for 20 years but never knew it was a fiber! Who carries this wonderful stuff? Habu?

    July 25, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  8. Pingback from Le grand bleu (#1) « ickemixe.:

    […] #6: An Indigo Dyed Kuzufu Vest: Kudzu Fiber Cloth via sri threads […]

    August 23, 2010 @ 4:34 am

  9. Comment by Zev Friedman:

    Beautiful kuzu vest. I’ve been trying to find someone to buy processed kuzu fiber from; can you tell me where you got it please? I’ve done some processing of it myself from kudzu down here in North Carolina, but haven’t obtained enough to work with yet. Thank you.

    September 4, 2010 @ 10:43 pm