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A Full Bolt of Shifu: Cotton Warp and Paper/Cotton Weft

Written on July 12, 2012

About a year ago, on a shopping trip to Japan, I bought a full bolt (about 13 yards  or 12 meters) of shifu, or cloth woven with paper yarns.  Here it is: the bolt is warped with cotton yarns and the weft is paper and cotton intermittently.At the time I found this, I was hesitant to buy it as it was expensive–handwoven shifu always is.  But I couldn’t resist.  In these details you can see the slubby nature of the cloth; these slubs are the paper yarns.  Really lovely, aren’t they?In old Yamagata prefecture, known as Shonai, there was a tradition of paper/cotton weaving, and my hunch was that this bolt is from Shonai as it looks like the kind of paper/cotton weaving from that area.  The person from whom I acquired this bolt said it isn’t Shonai, but I have my doubts.Likely this bolt was intended for use as a futon cover; in fact, I had (and sold) a Shonai paper/cotton futon cover that very much resembled this, which further reinforces my gut feeling that this is Shonai.I love the cobalt blue quality of the indigo–and the slubby texture.  One of the many interesting things about shifu is its weight: because paper yarn is less dense than cotton or bast, it’s usually lighter in the hand than cotton or bast woven cloth.This cloth is thick, so the full bolt is quite hefty in volume.   It’s also in pristine condition: it appears that this piece was woven, stored, and never touched.  I think it’s beautiful.

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  1. Comment by Tricia Rose:

    perfectly beautiful – I have the greatest trouble cutting a wonderful heritage fabric like this – it tends to stay intact and gloated over.

    July 12, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  2. Comment by glennis:

    wow- that is some mighty fine cloth. thanks for showing it.

    July 12, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

  3. Comment by paula253:

    thanks for sharing. fabu shifu. interesting about the weight of it.

    Would love to see the whole bolt displayed somehow– I’m sure you’d think of something wonderful. ^^

    July 13, 2012 @ 7:31 am

  4. Comment by velma:

    this is a treat, a beautiful WHOLE bolt of shifu! i like it’s gentle rustic nature, and the bold striping. really wonderful!

    July 13, 2012 @ 12:46 pm