Kurume traditional resist-dyed textiles Kurume gasuri
An indigo textile invented by a little girl from Kurume
that gets finer with every wash
What is Kurume traditional resist-dyed textiles ?
Kurume traditional resist-dyed textiles (Kurume gasuri in Japanese) is a woven cloth produced in and around the city of Kurume, Fukuoka prefecture. The breathability assures coolness in the summer and excellent heat-retaining properties provide warmth in the winter. With each use, the cotton cloth delivers a more comforable fit and a better texture. These textiles also have an excellent durability which makes them perfect for daily wear.
Advances in techniques contributed to development in the design patterns, like large or small patterns and a pattern of small pictures. With its indigo-blue color and delicate pattern Kurume gasuri has a pleasant appearance. It is renowned as one of the three most famous traditional resist-dyed textiles along with Bingo gasuri and Iyo gasuri. Because the cotton resist-dyed kasuri fabric only improves over time, it will be beloved forever.
One day a twelve year old girl named Den INOUE from Kurume noticed that the repeated washing of an indigo-dyed kimono decolorizes, causing white faded dots in the fabric. Her curiosity led to detangling the threads to examine faded dots and she was inspired to dye new threads the same way as the detangled threads. Her fabric was called kasuri and welcomed to the market.
Technique development such as the addition of pictorial patterns led to gradual increase in production and number of her disciples. By the time she was 38 in 1827, she had over 1000 disciples, 400 of which were sprinkled across the country, promulgating Kurume traditional resist-dyed textiles nationwide and establishing this textile's place in the industry.
Kimono fabrics were worn among the common people, but the production started taking a downturn with the switch to Western clothes. Some say the time of Kasuri fabrics has passed, but there is an effort to reinvigorate the industry by encouraging the artisans to also make modern items for everyday.
General Production Process
- 1. Design patterns The first step is visualizing and designing a complete pattern.
- 2. Sizing
The design includes the size, number of reed dents, and the amount of warps and wefts (the two basic components of thread).
- 3. Measuring A width is marked on a 5- or 6-mm bamboo stick meant for binding warp threads.
- 4. Draft drawing A design that allows for the shrinkage of weft threads is redrawn based on the first draft.
- 5. Marking with thread Patterned threads are used as a mark for binding weft threads.
- 6. Cover sizing
Starch or wax is applied to the colored patterns as a highly effective protection for the later step of ground dyeing with a wide brush. Many techniques can be used such as shading or double dyeing.
When the dying is completed on all the fabric, it is then steamed. The remaining glue is washed out after steaming the fabric. There is then more washing, stretching and steam ironing until the cloth becomes smooth with a silky lustrous touch.
- 7. Arranging weft sets The artisan arranges the twenty required wefts into a set.
- 8. Refinement By boiling the threads, they gain strength and lose impurities.
- 9. Bleaching The threads are bleached with a solution made from a mixture of bleaching powder and sodium bicarbonate.
- 10. Sizing Sizing is applying diluted starch paste to the threads to keep them together.
- 11. Binding the warps
The warps are bound around the bamboo stick while stretching evenly. The wefts are bound according to the marks on the design from the second process.
- 12. Fermenting
The fabric is processed with a high quality indigo dye for seven to ten days long.
- 13. Indigo dyeing
An indigo dye vat is used for the indigo dyeing process.
Dyes are prepared by their concentration and the dyeing begins from low concentrated dye and then moves to higher concentrations.
After, the dye threads are struck well.
- 14. Washing Any contamination from the threads is washed off.
- 15. Detangling
The washed threads are quickly detangled before they are dry.
- 16. Washing and bleaching The detangled threads are placed in water.
- 17. Sizing and drying A diluted starch paste is applied to the threads to keep them together and the threads are then sent to dry.
- 18. Pattern alignment This process involves tying the dyed threads into a bundle that is based on the patterns.
- 19. Sizing and drying
Diluted starch paste is reapplied to the threads and they are dried.
Proper sizing and drying can make the weaving easier.
- 20. Setting the threads
Two of each warp and ground threads are drawn through a reed dent.
- 21. Warps reeling The warps are reeled into a winding box.
- 22. Heddling A pair of threads is taken off from the reed dent. The threads are separated into a single thread and put through a heddle.
- 23. Setting on the weaving machine The threads are set on a hand weaving machine.
- 24. Mark removal The thread markings are removed and the dyed threads are stretched by the bundle of twenty.
- 25. Winding
The dyed thread bundle is reeled onto a weft cassette.
- 26. Reeling on a bamboo tube The dyed thread bundle is reeled onto a bamboo tube.
- 27. Hand weaving Handwiving requires a high level of skill. A shuttle weaving machine is used.
- 28. Drying After completing the hand weaving, the cloth is desized and dried in the shade.
- 29. Fixing to size The width of the cloth is cut to a predetermined size.
- 30. Inspection Finally, an inspection is done by the Kurume Kasuri Cooperative Association
Where to Buy & More Information
Takumi Art & Craft Gallery
Closed2nd and 4th Monday of the month
Business Hours10am to 7pm
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