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A Work Coat Woven from Wisteria Yarn

Written on October 17, 2010

In old Japan, of the many bast fibers used to weave cloth–ramie, hemp, linden, kudzu, paper mulberry–wisteria can be considered one of the rarest and most desirable.  This coat is woven entirely from wisteria yarn, the cloth being called fujifu.

One of the reasons that fujifu is so desirable is that there was not that much of this cloth made; the gathering of raw material and processing it into pliable thread which is able to be woven is arduous, to put it mildly.This coat is overdyed fujifu; it was probably dipped into kaki shibu, or green persimmon tannin, hence the coppery color of the cloth.   Undyed wisteria is a pale, wheat color.  This coat was entirely dip dyed into kaki shibu as is evidenced by the brown color in the indigo cotton details as well as the stitching, all of which have been tinted by kaki shibu.

Fujifu has a distinctive hand.  It is rugged but silken at the same time.  This coat most likely comes from northern Kyoto Prefecture, in a rural area near the Japan Sea, or possibly from neighboring Fukui Prefecture, another area where fujifu was woven.  Fujifu was also woven in other regions of Japan, such as present day Niigata and Ishikawa Prefectures.Imagine a surface texture that is not at all abrasive, as would be, say, burlap.  This yarn is tight and sleek.

Below, see  the kaki shibu dye that has mingled with the indigo cotton?

This coat probably dates to the Meiji Era (1868-1912).  It’s a treasure.

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2 Comments

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  1. Comment by velma:

    yes, a treasure, indeed.

    October 18, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  2. Comment by Mary Taylor:

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    October 19, 2010 @ 7:14 pm