Dyeing & Weaving

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Weave (p. 53 )

1. produced in Ojiya City, NIigata Prefecture.

2. Chracteristics: Hemp fabrics designated as " Important Intagible Cultural Property " also called " Echigo Chijimi ". Hand spun " Choma" (ramie, Bochmeria nipononivea ) are used as threads and they are woven in a traditional technique. When splashed patterns are woven, threads are manually dyed and woven into cloths. They are scrubbed in the water and trampled by feet so that " Shibo" (crimp ) are created. Then they are bleached on the snow. Only " Choma" produced in Fukushima Prefecture is used.

3. Uses: Summer kimono cloth, summer cushion cloth, bedding.

4. History: The hemp fabric has a long history as it had already been woven in the Jomon Period (ca. 10,000 BC-ca. 300 BC). In Echigo (Niigata) a historical document records that hemp cloths woven in Echigo were donated to the Imperial Court in the years 749-757. In the Kamakura and Muromachi Period (1333-1568) when cotton was not popular yet, common people used to wear clothes of hemp fabrics. The need for hemp fabrics decreased in the Edo Period when cotton became popular. However, Echigo flourished as the producer of " Echigo Jofu" high quality hemp fabrics due to its favorable climate for growing hemp. "Ojiya Chijimi" (crepe,) originated around 1670 when Masatoshi Hori moved from Akashi ( Hyogo Prefecture) to Ojiya and applied the technique of Akashi Chijimi to Echigo Jofu and produced hemp crepe. " Ojiya Chijimi " was improved, then became popular not only among the feudal lords but also among the common people in Edo , Kyoto and Osaka. In 1785, production of Echigo Jofu and Ojiya Chijimi reached its height. Since then, however, production decreased due to changes in living modes. Both of them are designated as "Intangible Cultural Property". In Jofu, both warf and weft are of the same threads but in Chijimi, tightly twisted threads are used as weft. Akashi Chijimi are silk fabrics invented in Akashi and used for high quality summer cloths. The technique reached Niigata Prefecture via Nishijin ( Kyoto ).