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Zanshi-ori: Cloth Woven from Leftover Threads

Written on June 25, 2010

Today I am showing a group of zanshi-ori, or cloth woven from leftover, cotton yarns.  The centerpiece of this group is a work coat, or noragi, unusual for its lining of zanshi-ori, shown here as the coat’s exterior.

For some reason, zanshi-ori is most often woven and used as bedding, so seeing it applied to a garment is refreshing.  This particular coat seems not to have been worn, and its proper exterior is not of zanshi-ori, but of a hand woven, checked cotton.  This coat most likely dates from the mid-twentieth century.Zanshi-ori is usually distinguished by its randomly spaced pattern of stripes seen on the weft.  In most cases, the warp is fixed–as in the case with this coat–and the weft is fed with an assortment of yarns that have been knotted together:  the result is this intermittent striping.Zanshi-ori is one of my personal favorite categories of Japanese country textiles: not only is it distinctive and beautiful, its origins in thrift and resourcefulness are inspiring, and something of a life lesson.  Below, on the right-hand side, you’ll see a length of zanshi-ori cotton that belies what I said above, that the warp is fixed with a non-zanshi yarn and the weft is fed with zanshi threads.  In this case, the cloth is woven from a warp made from leftover kasuri threads and the weft is a regular pattern of stripes.What I love about the zanshi-ori futon cover, below, is there is evidence that kasuri or ikat threads were used in weaving this piece, as little blips of weft kasuri images appear on this cloth, as can be seen below.

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  1. Comment by velma bolyard:

    oh that kasuri piece! i, too, like the whole concept of zanshi-ori. like our rag weaving, i suppose. sometimes pattern and color marvels happen.

    June 27, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  2. Comment by Lambert:

    That coat is incredibly beautiful, I have a soft spot for japanese work coats …

    July 1, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

  3. Comment by anne frederique ferret:

    comme ces tissus sont beaux… j’aimerai pouvoir les toucher, les caresser… et puis c’est tellement intéressant de connaître les différentes fibres qu’utilisaient nos anciens!
    merveilleux savoir!

    July 17, 2010 @ 9:06 am