Edo Oshi-e Pictures on Embossed Fabric

Edo Oshi-e Pictures on Embossed Fabric Edo oshie

The tradition of Edo that can be seen today
The Oshi-e techniques add style to the year-end markets


What is Edo Oshi-e Pictures on Embossed Fabric ?

Edo Oshi-e, or Edo Oshi-e Embossed Fabric Pictures, are a traditional craft produced around Nihombashi and Asakusa, Tokyo from the late Edo period (1603 - 1867). Today, they are also produced in Sumida ward, Koto ward, Katsushika ward in Tokyo, as well as in Saitama and Kanagawa.
Oshi-e are made by glueing fabric onto a pasteboard or cardboard, then wrapping cotton with fabric to make embossed parts, and finally combining them to complete a three-dimensional picture. For Edo Oshi-e, features of the face are drawn on the embossed parts made of silk and cotton textiles, using the techniques for Japanese paintings to create an Ukiyo-e (a traditional Japanese painting mostly made by woodblock prints). Not only peoples' faces, but also scenery, animals and plants are created. When making an oshi-e of a kabuki actor, deep knowledge about kimono manners, combination of colors, and hairstyles is necessary.
Today, Edo-oshie is used for battledores, portraits, framed pictures, as well as decorations for folding screens and fans, and its beauty is enjoyed widely.


Edo Oshi-e Pictures on Embossed Fabric - History

The Edo period was a time when the merchant class prospered, and reflecting this, the Edo Oshi-e developed. It became especially famous when it was used for decorating battledores.
Until then, patterns that were symbols of luck and happiness such as shichifukujin (the seven deities of good fortune> and pine, bamboo and plum trees were mainly used for batteldores. However, when kabuki became popular between 1688 - 1704, the pictures of kabuki actors were painted, and from 1804 -1830, batteldores of kabuki actors' portraits made with oshi-e were produced. With the popularity of kabuki and the progress in oshi-e techniques, the kabuki actor batteldores sold in huge numbers.
At the year-end, one could tell how popular a kabuki actor was by the number of battledores sold, and with these batttledores, Edo oshi-e became widely known to the public.

General Production Process

Edo Oshi-e Pictures on Embossed Fabric - General Production Process

  1. 1. Making paper patterns A draft picture is drawn, and a paper pattern is made and cut out, taking the overlap width into account.
  2. 2. Cutting the cardboard The pattern is traced onto the cardboard, which is to become the base, and the cardboard is cut.
  3. 3. Wrapping cotton Cotton is placed on the cut out cardboard, and it is then wrapped with silk or cotton fabric.
  4. 4. Assembling Japanese paper is applied to each part as a protection sheet, and the parts are assembled.
  5. 5. Coloring When drawing a face, the oshi-e is painted with a solution made of alum and glue, followed by whitewash to smoothen the surface, and is then colored with pigments.
  6. 6. Drawing Glue, whitewash and pigments are mixed to paint the patterns of the kimono.

    The method of making a batteldore and a framed picture are slightly different. The way cotton is inserted and how the oshi-e is assembled differs depending on what the final product is.

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