Search

While members of the Japanese Imperial household, samurai class, and wealthy merchants had the wherewithal to acquire luxurious silk garments and furnishing textiles, most Japanese used cloth made of ramie, a type of hemp fiber, and cotton, which was introduced to Japan in the fifteenth century. Ramie and cotton were more easily accessible and comfortable to wear in hot humid weather, but they were not easy to color with the brilliantly pigmented dyes used on silk. Indigo was readily available and effective, however, and Japanese dyers exploited its use to its fullest by using a wide range of resist-dyeing methods. This exhibition features a selection of folk textiles patterned using the technique known as tsutsugaki. The technique involves protecting specific areas of cloth by applying a substance like a starch paste that is impenetrable by the dye. Once the textile is dyed, the paste is removed and colored dyes are hand-painted on the still-white areas to produce a range of designs and auspicious symbols.