Nanbu Weaving

By Aomori’s Traditional Handicrafts

By:Aomori Prefecture

Nanbu WeavingAomori’s Traditional Handicrafts

In the Edo Period, Clothing Was Precious

Nanbu Weaving evolved from the need to reuse worn clothing during the Edo Period (1603-1867), when it was considered a priceless item. This kind of weaving is a product of the knowledge of women in farming regions who lived harsh lives.

Nanbu WeavingAomori’s Traditional Handicrafts

Reusing Old Cloth

Cotton cloth was a valuable material in northern Tohoku, where only hemp could be harvested. There comes a time when this type of cotton cloth becomes no longer wearable, but in order to maximize the use this valuable material, it was ripped into smaller pieces and re-used as the crosswise threads on a loom, with cotton thread on the vertical.

Nanbu WeavingAomori’s Traditional Handicrafts

Ripped Cloth as Warp, Cotton Thread as Weft

The cloth was ripped into smaller pieces, and the cotton was stitched into it vertically, which eventually produced a stronger and warmer fabric, characterized by its colorful patterns and complicated loom. Although once mainly used as “kotatsu” (heated table) covering or “obi” (kimono sash), they are currently used as table covers, or other goods with a modern feel.

Nanbu WeavingAomori’s Traditional Handicrafts

Using the Weaving

Nanbu Weaving is created with a hand-operated loom. Because it lengthens only 2-3 mm with each turn of the loom, making a blanket to cover a kotatsu takes a whole winter season.

Nanbu WeavingAomori’s Traditional Handicrafts

Modern Nanbu Weaving

Because there are no standard materials used in Nanbu Weaving, the appearance of the weaving can change during its making, and the finished product cannot be envisioned before the process is finished. However, by using cloth of the same color and material for the crosswise threads, and by changing the color with fixed pattern on the vertical, a design can be woven according to plan. Pictured is a pen case, book cover, business card holder, and pouch made using this method.

Nanbu WeavingAomori’s Traditional Handicrafts

A pouch made using Nanbu Weaving.

Credits: Story

Aomori Prefecture

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