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A Bashofu Kimono: Kasuri in Banana Fiber

July 17, 2012

Many of you are familiar with bashofu, the famous banana fiber cloth woven in the Ryukyu Islands, or Okinawa.  Today I’m showing a very good kasuri or ikat kimono woven from bashofu.You can see that the cloth is double kasuri, meaning both the warp and weft yarns are tied before dyeing in order to create a pattern once they are woven.  The warp yarns are dyed in a brown dye called sharinbai while the weft yarns are dyed using Okinawan indigo or Ryukyu ai.As can be seen in the photo, above, there is a stitched pleat that encircles the garment about a 18 inches above the bottom hem: for some reason the owner of this kimono shortened the coat this way.  At first I thought this seam was the joining of two pieces, but when I examined the inside of the kimono I noticed the kimono was uncut.The indigo weft yarns are subtle but beautiful.  And as is not the case with most bashofu kimono, this one shows virtually no wear or damage.  I estimate that it was woven in the early 20th century.This garment would have been worn by a commoner, but its a very good example of a bashofu kimono that shows an attractive pattern and is in very fine condition.

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Mottainai The Fabric of Life: Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan

November 6, 2011

The exhibition at the Portland Japanese Garden, Mottainai, The Fabric of Life: Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan opened on 4 November.  Here are some installation shots.
I’m exhibiting with my friend, Kei Kawasaki of Gallery Kei in Kyoto.   Kei and I decided that I would show indigo dyed cotton boro pieces and she would show bast fiber and paper pieces.  The items I have contributed to the show can be seen below.Above and below is a large, woven cotton boro mosquito netting or kaya.

Above and below are sashiko stitched pieces.  Centrally place above is a large, sashiko stitched kotatugake.  To the left and right are garments from Yamagata prefecture.Stitched aprons and zokin can be seen above.

Above and below are sakiori garments.

Above is pictured a boro yogi or sleeping kimono, while below you can see noragi or work coats.Below is a fantastic boro futonji or futon cover.This piece, below, a shinafu or linden fiber tsunobukuro or horn bag is filled with balls of shredded indigo dyed cotton yarn and twisted paper yarn.   Kei brought this to the show to act as a transition between her bast fiber textiles and my indigo dyed cotton ones.  It’s an amazing object.  Kei’s other textiles can be seen in the images below.

Above and below are some woven paper garments.  On the photo, above, situated on the right is an okuso zakkuri or a coat made of woven hemp waste.  Below, seen in the middle, is a fujifu or woven wisteria garment and a shinafu or linden fiber garment to its left.

Below are two elm fiber garments: to the right is a traditional Ainu attush, to the left is an unusual dochugi or traveling coat, made from ohyo or elm fiber.  Since this dochugi is made from traditional Ainu cloth, we can assume that the cloth was traded with the Ainu by a merchant from Honsu island.

A marvelous, resist dyed ramie kazuki from Yamagata prefecture can be seen above and below.  A kazuki is a kimono-shaped veil which was worn on the head by upper class women.Below are repurposed paper items. A splendid bashofu or banana fiber kimono from Okinawa can be seen below.All of the pieces are for sale through the Portland Japanese Garden.  If any are interesting to you, please let me know and I will put you in touch with the Garden.

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