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A Length of Twice Itajime Dyed Cotton: Carved Boards

Written on January 6, 2013

Itajime-Crows1In a past blog I’ve shown a glimpse of this wonderful cloth, but today I decided to talk about it a little bit.  It is a length of hand spun, hand woven cotton that has been dyed using the itajime or kyokechi method, a technique where carved boards are employed to resist dye and to imprint designs onto cloth.

Itajime-Crows1aItajime is a complex process because the boards used to dye the cloth are intricately carved–you can see a blog entry where I show the boards here.  Essentially, many pairs of boards are carved with designs in mirror image; cloth is fed in between the boards and the result is a stack of carved boards, face-to-face with a bolt of cloth interwoven between them.  Pressure is applied to the stack of compressed cloth, the block of boards and cloth are dipped in a dye bath, and where there was pressure on the cloth, no dye can penetrate, the result being a resist dyed image.

Itajime-Crows1bOr, the carved blocks can be made in such a way as to both resist AND to let in dye, which yields a “positive” image, such as the crows we see here.  The background is resisted according to the first method described, and the pattern of the background is the well-used hemp leaf pattern or asa no ha.

Itajime-Crows1c The crows are beautifully–and efficiently–rendered.

Itajime-Crows1dThis cloth was made in Izumo, Japan, where there was great activity surrounding itajime or kyokechi dyeing.  Likely it dates to the late nineteenth century.

Itajime-Crows1eBeautiful, isn’t it?




Comments closed

  1. Comment by velma:


    January 6, 2013 @ 11:52 am

  2. Comment by Blandina:

    Beautiful, and vero complex.

    January 6, 2013 @ 8:19 pm