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.
In: Tags: asa, noragi
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September 5, 2010
A client came by yesterday and we started talking about Echigo jofu, the fine-as-silk ramie weaving from what is now Niigata, Japan. One of the many striking features of this cloth is that it is snow bleached, meaning it is laid on snow and the intense rays of light reflecting off the snow “bleach” the fibers and lighten their color. Since it’s summer, and we all need a bit of cooling off, I thought I’d talk about this refreshing topic.Above is a photo of tanmono, or full kimono bolts laying in the snow in Niigata; the photo is taken from this site.*
Echigo jofu in an amazingly dense topic of discussion: ramie weaving this fine is something marvelous in itself, but imagine that in the past, the far-flung area of Japan that produces this cloth was trading directly with the Okinawan islands, and, therefore, the weaving of this remote, rural, north western prefecture was influenced by the prized weaving of the tropics.
Another reason I wanted to write just a bit about Echigo jofu was to showcase this wonderful UNESCO site that has fantastic information on this remarkable cloth and the people responsible for making it. It’s fascinating.
*please note that this website says that Echigo jofu is woven from hemp; it is woven from ramie.
In: Tags: asa
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