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A Very Rare Group of Eight 19th Century Notebooks from a Kasuri Dyeworks in Omi

Written on January 20, 2010

This set of eight books is a treasure.  The books are the journals of a kasuri weaver/dyer from Omi, an area of Japan (present-day Shiga Prefecture)  which produced some of Japan’s finest hemp and ramie kasuri textiles, known as Omi jofu.

OmibooksBlog1The books date from 1859 through the beginning of last century.  Within them are countless pages of sketches, notes, ideas, technical renderings and working drawings of the patterns and motives that will be dyed and woven by the atelier.  This is a remarkable archive.


By looking at the entries in these books, one has an intimate view onto the mind of a kasuri weaver.  Through these books we can see first hand how the weaver worked out patterns and plotted designs.

OmibooksBlog1bThe paper of these books is extremely soft and pliable from wear.  Obviously the books were handled a great deal during their lifetime.OmibooksBlog1c

The book, shown above,  is a sample book of swatches of kasuri dyed asa (hemp or ramie) cloth along with some bold sketches: it’s not clear if the samples were woven by the owner of these journals, or if they were culled from disparate sources, to be drawn on for inspiration.  Some of the patterns look remarkably like those from Okinawa, which is the artistic home of  Japanese kasuri weaving.





Aside from the information conveyed to us by these books, each page displays a kind of artistry that can be appreciated even if the subject of this book is not known.



Comments closed

  1. Comment by velma bolyard:

    holy smoke, amazing, unbelievable and wow. thank you for sharing this. how precious and, though i speak and read no japanese, i do read “weaverese” and this, some of it, i understand. amazing again.

    January 20, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

  2. Comment by jude:

    wonderful, wonderful

    January 20, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  3. Comment by caro:

    Everything Velma said and more! You keep coming up with incredible treasures. It’s awe-inspiring.

    January 20, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

  4. Comment by mrs. daryl hill:

    A wonderful site to discover by chance.
    Thank you

    January 20, 2010 @ 10:41 pm

  5. Comment by Brooke:

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

    January 20, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

  6. Comment by hudsondebb:

    Breath-taking treasure

    January 21, 2010 @ 10:45 am

  7. Comment by SandraG.:

    ohhhhhh myyyyyy – simply stunning !!! thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this.
    Blessings, Sandra in AZ

    January 21, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

  8. Comment by jacky:

    A real treasure ….thank you so much for sharing with us.

    January 21, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

  9. Comment by Terri:

    What a beautiful treasure indeed!

    January 21, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  10. Comment by julochka:

    that second to last photo just leaped out at me for some reason. i’ll be back to study it some more. thank you for sharing this amazing treasure.

    January 22, 2010 @ 2:24 am

  11. Pingback from What are you drawing for the future:

    […] if you’ve ever needed any, of the value of recording your inspirations.A very rare group of 19th century sketchbooks were found from a weaver/dyer from Omi, what is now the Shiga Prefecture in Japan. Some of the […]

    February 9, 2010 @ 1:16 pm