Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 3

Here is exactly what I have hoped to see for years. For ikat in Oshima the threads are tightly WOVEN in a pattern so that they RESIST the color in the dye process. Then that mat-like cloth is UNWOVEN and the unwoven threads are then WOVEN into intricately patterned silk cloth mainly for exquisite kimonos. To see the process actually being done today was fantastic. Here is the first step: the weaving that is binding the threads to resist the dye. The loom is extraordinarily strong and so is the weaver as he beats in small bundles of threads. [click photos to enlarge]

Here is the woven “mat” that is ready for dyeing. It is laying across a big bundle of unwoven threads for comparison. The lines seen in the mat are the woven threads that are tightly binding so no dye can seep into those places which are arranged to make a pattern when put on a loom to be woven into silk cloth called Oshima tsmugi.

Dyeing a skein of silk threads in the special mud which is unique to Oshima. There is a small pond at each dyer’s studio where the bound cloth as well as threads are dyed in the famous mud. This is what makes the brown and black color of the cloth known to be from Oshima.

Here is one of the mats that has been dyed and partially unwoven. The white areas were not dyed because they were woven tightly in order to resist the dye. Think of tie-dye! The mats aren’t big because each one is made to weave a single part of a pattern. A new mat must be woven for every time there is even the tiniest change in the design. I hope you can see where the binding threads were woven and the spaces between in the mat. The spaces between were free to accept the dye. Some “mats” were 1/4 inch strips. All are as wide as a kimono width which is about 14”.

A traditional Oshima tsumugi design at last!!

9 thoughts on “Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 3”

  1. What fiber did they use to “tie” the mat? Was it thrown away/ reused in another dye batch/ or was incorporated into the finished fabric?

    Safe Travels.


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