Dyeing & Weaving

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Weave (p. 67 )

1. Produced in Aramachi Moka City, Mashikomachi Hagagun, Tochigi Prefecture.

2. Characteristics: Cotton fabric, hand woven with hand spun threads and dyed with indigo in the traditional way of "Moka Momen." Two kinds: striped fabric with pre-dyed threads and stencil dyed with indigo. Other colors than indigo are dyed with plant dyes such as "Benibana"(safflower), "Akane"(Rubia akane),"Shikon"(Rithospermum erythrorhyzon) and "Suo"(Caesalpinia sappan).

3. Uses: Everyday clothing, table cloths, "Noren"( shop curtains).

4. History: As cotton was widely planted in Mashiko-Moka area, cotton fabrics were woven in the late Edo Period and marketed as "Moka Momen"(Moka cotten). It was the representative white cotton fabric of the Edo Period. Moka was the center for trading cotton in this area, thus "Moka Cotton."They were delicate and silk like fabrics as cotton was hand spun and hand woven with the influence of "Yuki Tsumugi" pongee produced in Yuki, which is located near Moka. Special spinning wheels were used for producing thin hand spun threads. The production reached its height in the late Edo Period. However, it decreased drastically in the Meiji Period when machine spun cotton was imported and the Nagoya area began producing cotton fabrics. In the early Showa Period there was no production. An association for the maintenance and development of the Moka Momen started in 1986 reviving the tradition with full cooperation of local citizens. "Mashiko Momen" was originated by Hiroshi Higeta, a dyer who inherited 200 years of tradition, in 1960 with the aim of maintaining the tradition of Moka Cotton and indigo dyeing. "Oka Momen" which is used today for summer dishabille, is machine woven cotton, resembling Moka Momen.

Dyeing Method

The indigo used for dyeing is the one produced here or in Awa(Tokushima Prefecture) and lime is added for deoxidizing the water insoluble indigo ball into water soluble.