Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Japanese textile notes

[I so coveted this dress of Ryoko's but knew it would be way past my budget.] I have not digested everything from my recent intense travel schedule, but my interpreter Kazuhiro Murayama told me about what he does on the bullet train. It was a 1.5 hour ride but we still didn't have time to talk about everything in the kind of detail (and with the kind of leisure) I would have liked. But I wanted to share what I learned from him.
He does interpretation for the textile company, Nishiwaki Shoten, which is a textile dealer that is over 200 years old. It deals historically with textiles from Niigata (Ojiya chijimi and Echigo jofu) and now with traditional textile from all over Japan. He did the English translations and you will swoon over the images. Look at everything!

He also worked on a project that made books to document textiles mostly from the Okinawa, Amami and Kyushu regions. Those include basho-fu (banana fiber textile), Yaeyama jofu, miyako jofu and different kasuris. The series was not commercial and was called Ori no Kaido, 織の海道, with a very small circulation, sponsored by the Ishibashi foundation to document the history and techniques of these weaves and dyes. Why? Because this industry, like so many of the hand processes we know and love, was at risk of disappearing. The documentation was bilingual and intended to be kept by art school libraries (maybe some exist in the U.S. ... we can only hope). The link is only in Japanese and it's impossible to order, but why not look?

We also talked about bamboo weaving after I showed him jiseung pictures, and he recommended looking at Kenichi Nagakura's work. He sent me this website and I realized I had visited Tai Gallery in Santa Fe a couple years ago when I was in residence!

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