Weaving looms – kasuri

June 4, 2009

kasuri weaving

Three photos I took in November 2007.  I will incorporate a higher-res copy when I discuss kasuri later on. The two ‘portrait’ ones are of a weaving looom in the public demonstration area on Level 2 of the Nishijin Textile Centre in Kyoto, a large area where traditional craftsmen and women work in a variety of media, but especially in traditional weaving. This kasuri weaving loom was unoccupied on the several times I visited, but because the work was relatively ‘open’ and the loom not covered over with cloth and signs in Japanese, I assume the weaver was never too far away.  The crisp black-and-white warps form a traditional yabane/arrow design but what I was pleased about was the very obvious displacement in the loom structure required to obtain the graded colour which is the chief characteristic of kasuri.

For the magazine cover, I needed a ‘landscape’ photo to match, but had nothing similar in the weaving vein, so added a photo of the resident taka-dai demonstrator, hard at work at the Iga Ueno Braiding Centre. The small relatively industrial-looking town of Iga Ueno is roughly midway from Kyoto and Nara to Nagoya in Mie Prefecture, nestled in heavily wooded forests. It is home to the Ninja martial art tradition. Once a prominent braiding centre providing Kyoto with its braids – and the home of a double-layer takadai pickup tradition using calligraphy and other designs known as Iga braids – it’s obvious the tradition has been completely supplanted of late by the Ninja in terms of domestic tourism. The participants of the international braid conference in Kyoto in November 2007 managed not only a visit to this Braiding Centre, but also a small retail outlet for braids – complete with adjoining factory space where takadai braids are still being made by hand, as well as a small factory across the road making the machine-made version. More photos of both factories to follow.

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