Awa-shijira cotton cloth Awa shoai shijira ori
Beauty expressed in the distinctively irregular Shibo (embossed texture)
The traditional cotton fabric dyed with high quality Awa Ai (Awa indigo)
What is Awa-shijira cotton cloth ?
Awa Shoai Shijira Ori is a cotton textile produced in Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture. Shijira Ori had been produced in Awa since the 18th century and the Shijira Ori dyed with Awa Ai was referred to as Awa Shoai Shijira Ori. It was designated as the traditional craft by the Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in 1978. Shijira means the fine wrinkles on the surface of the textile, similar to the Chijimi.
The characteristic of Awa Shoai Shijira Ori is the overall embossed effect created by the Chijimi, which is referred to as the Shibo. The embossed effect creates a texture that feels good on the skin when worn. It also prevents the fabric from sticking to your skin when you perspire. So, Awa Shoai Shijira Ori is most popular during the hot summer.
The plain cotton texture and the indigo color, which is referred to as Champaign blue, are the attractive features of Awa Shoai Shijira Ori. It is mainly used to make the yukata (the casual cotton kimono), which is worn from summer to autumn. The textile is also used for making accessories, including ties and handkerchiefs, as well as interior goods such as tapestries. Anyone can appreciate the charms of Awa Shoai Shijira Ori in their everyday lives.
Awa Shoai Shijira Ori started in 1866. Hana Kaifu who lived in Ataka-Mura, Myodo-Gun, Awanokuni (Ataka, Tokushima-City today) accidently came across the Shijira Ori technique.
Hana was drying the cotton fabric that was called the Tatae Jima, then popular among commoners in Awanokuni, when it started to rain and the fabric shrank. Hana found the wonderful embossed texture of the shrunken fabric. That made her think about making the cotton fabric with the Shibo.
After that, Hana made a great effort to develop the technique to make Shijira Ori with the Shibo which could be created using different tension in the threads. The fabric was made with cotton that was more reasonable than silk. Besides, the cotton made the fabric lighter and cooler so the Shijira Ori was widely accepted by the commoners and became widespread in Awanokuni.
Hachisuka who was a head of Awanokuni at that time encouraged the cultivation of indigo so Awa Ai (indigo) was planted along the Yoshino River. The production of Awa Ai represented approximately a quarter of the total production of indigo in Japan until the Meiji period (1868 – 1912) started. The Awa Ai dye is a high quality dye for cotton so it was used for Shijira Ori, too. Even after the Ai industry declined in Awanokuni, Awa Shoai Shijima Ori continued to be popular for casual wear and it is preserved as a traditional industry in Japan as of today.
General Production Process
- 1. The Kaseage (Winding threads into a skein)
The threads are wound into a skein, which is referred to as the Kase. Then, the threads are wound on the tube using a device called the Kaseage Waku (a frame for making a skein). In this way the threads are gathered together and it makes dyeing easier.
- 2. Dyeing
The Kase is dyed in the special pot for dyeing the Kase. The longer the threads have been soaked in the dye, the deeper the color becomes. The threads are dyed in various colors using not only natural indigo but also chemical dyes.
- 3. Washing in water
The dyed threads are washed in water. Awa Ai requires washing repeatedly until the natural color appears.
- 4. Drying in the sun
The Funori (glue) is applied to prevent the threads from becoming fluffy while they are dried in the sun. Oxidation occurs in the indigo dye when it is exposed to the air and the color becomes more beautiful. The indigo dyeing process requires the repetition of the cycle of dyeing, washing and drying in the sun.
- 5. The Ito Kuri (Winding the threads)
The dyed threads are wound around a reel from the Kase to prepare for weaving.
- 6. The Seikei and the Nukimaki (warping and preparing the weft)
The warp threads are sorted into the required number of threads and the length for the loom. This process is referred to as the Seikei. The weft threads are put through a shuttle and this process is referred to as the Nukimaki.
- 7. Weaving
The weaver starts weaving. The warp and the weft have to be pulled with different tensions while weaving in order to create the Shibo. For this reason, the combination of the threads for paralleled yarn is different from that of plain weaving.
- 8. Drying and finish
The textile shrinks as it is soaked in hot water and the Shibo appear. The finished textile is dried and the production of Awa Shoai Shijira Ori is completed.
Where to Buy & More Information
Tokushima Bussan Kanko Koryu Plaza"Arudeyo Tokushima"
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