What is Honba Oshima Tsumugi Fabric
Honba Oshima Tsumugi is a textail that is representative of the traditional crafts of Kagoshima Prefecture which has a long history and tradition. It likes nearly a year to weave one bolt of fabric. Starting with the design, the process is roughly divided into 30 steps. Each of the steps requires highly complexed skilled techniques.
The origins back some 1300 years, making it the oldest textile art with a continuous tradition. Even before the Nara period (710-794), Kagoshima was active in sericulture, and hand-spun silk thread was used to make tsumugi textiles.
The dyeing technique is based on methods dating to the year 661, during the time of Emperor Tenji(626-671,r 668-671).
Basic patterns of Honba Oshima Tsumugi FabricKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory
Illustrations of production process of Honba Oshima Tsumugi FabricKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory
Honba Oshima Tsumugi uses silk threads are resist-dyed (kasuri) in both the warp and weft to create setatiled "splash" patterns when woven. Up until mid-Meiji period (late 19th century), the kasuri patterns where made using basho thread (Japanese banana plant) to hand-bind the silk threads. By the Meiji 40's (1907), leo Nagae from Amami-Oshima invented a kasuri technique called Orishime-gasuri using a binding loom (shimebata) which made it possible to create the unique intricate kasuri patterns characteristic to Honba Oshima Tsumugi.
Honba Oshima Tsumugi FabricKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory
Production Process: Designing the pattern
The kasuri pattern for each thread is plotted onto paper. This is work that needs in-depth knowledge of all dyeing, weaving and binding kasuri techniques. The plotted graph serves as a guide that takes the artisans through the laborious and time consuming production process.
Production Process: Measuring the wrap
The threads to be resist dyed are prepared by measuring their length and number (using units of 12 to 26 threads).
Production Process: Applying Starch
Starch is applied to the measured kasuri threads and dried till stiff.
Production Process: Kasuri-jime (Binding the Kasuri Threads)
Cotton threads are woven into the starched silk threads covering the spots that should be resisted according to the graph of the kasuri pattern. This makes what is called a "splash pattern mat" mushiro-gasuri. The portions of the silk threads covered with the cotton woven over them in will be blocked from the dye during the next process.
Production Process: Dyeing
The resist pattern threads that are woven to from the "spash pattern mat" (kasuri-mushiro) and the threads for the ground color are immersed in the dye bath. Oshima Tsumugi uses various dyeing methods, such as the chic traditional technique of mud dyeing and natural dyes like indigo and yamamomo (Morella rubra), as well as synthetic dyes which offer an array of colors.
Production Process: Mud dyeing
Mud dyeing is a traditional technique that requires time and skill. First, boil the finely chipped yeddo hawthorn bark (techigi) and then dye the threads repeatedly in the extracted liquid. Next, when dyed with mud, the tannic acid contained in the techigi and the iron rich mud react chemically to dye the tastefully austere black unique to Oshima Tsumugi.
Production Process: Meyaburi (Taking out the binding threads)
The cotton threads that where woven in to protect the resisted portions of the silk threads for the kasuri pattern are removoed using a special tool.
Production Process: Irosashi (Rubbing dyeing)
Based on the plotted sketch, colors are rubbed in to dye on the kasuri.
Production Process: Freeing all kasuri bindings
After coloring all kasuri and the all the cotton threads are taken out, the kasuri threads are finished.
Production Process: Starch coting
To preserve the kasuri patten, the warp threads are coated in starch and dried in the sun.
Production Process: Arranging the Warp
The kasuri warp is arranged according to the graph sketch.
Production Process: Winding the Warp on a Board
The kasuri warp is wound together with the ground-color warp onto a wooden board, aligning them to the width of the loom.
Production Process: Weaving
When the preparation pf all kasuri and ground wrap and weft threads is completed, the threads are set on the loom. The weaving-in process involves matching the kasuri patterns on the weft threads by thread with a needle: the work requires patience and skill.
Production Process: Inspection
The woven Oshima Tsumugi is then passed through a strict inspection at the inspection site of the Honba Oshima Tsumugi Orimono Cooperative Society. Pass or fail is quality of the product, which enhances consumers trust.
Drozome (Mud Dyed) Oshima Tsumugi
Dyeing with yeddo hawthorn bark (techigi) and mud is a textile technique unique to Oshima Tsumugi. The elegance of the lustrous, austere black color and the sturdy, comfortable feel of the fabric has attracted many fans.
Doroai (Mud and Indigo Dyed) Oshima Tsumugi
A technique combining mud and indigo dyeing. The harmony of the indigo-dyed kasuri contrasting with the deep and shimmering black ground has great charm.
Ai Oshima Tsumugi
Oshima Tsumugi dyed in natural indigo such as Ryukyu-ai (Ryukyu indigo) and tadeai (Polygonum tinctoria). This "Japan Blue" has been popular since oldest times.
Plant Dyed Oshima Tsumugi
Oshima Tsumugi Dyed with plants from nature. The natural dyes gives beautiful color tones that are subtle and soft.
Iro Oshima Tsumugi
A myriad color tones and gradations expand the possibilities of Oshima Tsumugi. The detailed kasuri patterns and the harmony of the colors show off the skills of Honba Oshima Tsumugi.
Shiro Oshima Tsumugi
Oshima Tsumugi with white or pale color ground have a bright, clean, modern feel. The clothing scene expands with fashionable taste.
Information & images provided by:
Honbaoshimatsumugi Orimono Cooperative society
Kagoshima Products Association
Directed and text provided by:
Honbaoshimatsumugi Orimono Cooperative society
English Translation by:
Miyo Kurosaki Bethe
English Edition by:
Melissa M. Rinne, Kyoto National Museum
This exhibition is created by:
Mitta Kanako, Kyoto Women's University
Illustrations retouched by:
Aruga Yuu, Kyoto Women's University
Dr Maezaki Shinya, Associate Professor, Kyoto Women's University
Yamamoto Masako, Ritsumeikan University