The elegance of Japanese fabrics

Japan is known for its beautiful fabrics, used both for clothing and for decorative purposes. The tradition of making high quality fabrics

in Japan goes back over a thousand years. These fabrics are characterized by vivid and vibrant colors, with which the designers create

the beautiful traditional Japanese motifs, often inspired by nature. Used in the making of personal items, they have played a very important

role in everyday life To meet the demand, Japanese weavers have used different materials such as silk, cotton, ramie, hemp and other fabrics

or fibers. The industry had to produce a great variety of fabrics, not only for ordinary people but also for other classes of citizens (nobles, elites,

temple priests) and for theatrical costumes, special occasions and parties. Other common uses were textile decoration, light upholstery,

and home furnishings, as well as banners, tapestries, draperies for community shops, and other motifs.

Historical view…

Textile culture and techniques in Japan date back to the Yamato period (300-710 AD), when the demand for fine fabrics such as silk was greater.

In the same period, with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan in the sixth century, demand increased further and many cultural elements were

introduced from the China of the Sui and Tang dynasties. Many high-quality fabrics were then imported through companies from mainland Asia,

until weavers and dyers were invited from Korea and China and settled in Japan, under the patronage of the court. The production of fabrics was

regulated by the state and the best were produced by the imperial weaving mills. Since Emperor Kanmu, in 794, established the capital of Japan

at Heian-kyò (now known as Kyoto), the entire industry had a great development in the region. The fabrics produced here were

not only used by the aristocrats, but also by the religious in the many temples of Kyoto.


The art of creating fabrics ...

Because the workmanship and quality of the fabrics produced had to be exceptional, the designers had to find clever ways to solve some challenges.

The fabric had to withstand various weights, and the seams did not have to deform its structure and pattern. For clothes, light upholstery and decoration,

the fabric ideally has an intermediate thickness which makes it suitable for just this use. It is specifically the work of a very experienced designer who has

to make appropriate choices about techniques, materials, colors and patterns, following tradition but with a touch of modernity in the final product. Thanks

to companies such as Kokka, Echino (Etsuko Furuya) or Nani Iro (Naomi Ito), unique techniques that are still used today have been transmitted over time.

The decoration is printed on thick, 100% natural, medium thick cotton, cotton blended with linen or other specially designed fabrics. The fabrics use

oriental motifs, some of which feature large flower designs.


The beauty of tradition ...

Nowadays, the ancient Japanese fabrics used for the Heian-style costumes "sokutai" and "jūnihitoe" are worn by the imperial family for special occasions.

The exceptional beauty of these dresses arouses great interest from people and the media. The classic "yusoku monyo" and "marumon" motifs are typical

examples of the traditional art of making fabrics of true elegance in Japan. Beautiful high quality Japanese fabrics, the result of centuries of evolution, are

not only used in Japan but, exported since the 14th century, can be found all over the world.

Article written by Vladimir Zaicek, Maria Grazia Simeone, Marco Morelli

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