Nagoya kimono-dyeing Nagoya kuromontsuki zome
The luster of the jet-black dye
The beauty of the sophisticated and finest black color
Nagoya Kuromontsuki Zome is a dyed and woven textile produced in the region surrounding Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. Kuromontsuki is the kimono worn at weddings or funerals and it has been popular since the Edo period in Nagoya among the samurai and commoners.
The characteristic of Nagoya Kuromontsuki Zome is the jet-black color dyed using either the Hitashi Zome method, which is to dye the textile using a mold of a family crest, or the Hiki Zome method, which is to draw the family crest by hand after the textile is dyed. The Hitashi Zome method uses the Nagoya-specific Mon Ate Amitsuke technique. The woven textile is soaked in the hot dye for the Mon Ate Amitsuke technique. In the Hikizome method, Bosen Nori (starch to prevent the part from being dyed) is applied where the family crest should be and the family crest is drawn by hand after the textile is dyed.
The history of Nagoya Kuromontsuki Zome goes back to 1611. Shinzaemon Kosakai, who was the head of the dyers in the Owari domain, refined the dyeing techniques and established Kuromontsuki Zome. Initially, the technique, which was referred to as the Mon-nori Fuse (a method to apply starch where a family crest should be and draw the crest after the fabric is dyed), was used. However, the technique to dye using a metal mold of the family crest was invented between 1830 and 1843. The metal mold technique was refined in the Meiji period (1868 – 1912) and it became a technique which is almost the same as the one currently used. The ancestors of the 1200 or more Kuromontsuki Zome craftsmen who are currently at work were still alive in between 1818 and 1829. This is a fact recorded in the Owari/Noshu Konya Socho (the book of dyers in Aichi Prefecture/Gifu Prefecture today), which was published in 1848.
General Production Process
- 1. The Tsumori
The impurities have to be removed from the white fabric in order to dye the black evenly. When all the impurities are removed from the fabric, the Migoro (body parts of the kimono including the sleeves and collar) and the position of a family crest are decided and marked accordingly.
- 2. The Mon Gata Haritsuke (pasting the family crest pattern)
The Mon Gata (the cardboard cuttings in the shape of the family crest) are pasted on both sides of the fabric at the marked position.
- 3. The Mon Ate Amitsuke (dyeing the fabric with the metal mesh)
The cardboard cuttings in the shape of the family crest are pasted on both sides of the fabric and the metal mesh is placed over the cardboard cuttings. The mesh is fastened with a string to prevent the cuttings from coming out of place.
- 4. The Shitazome (preliminary dyeing)
The fabric is soaked in water to prevent the dye from permeating the cardboard cuttings. Then, the Shitazome process starts. First of all, the dye is selected from the two kinds of dye. One is the Benishita and the other is the Aishita. The Benishita is used for women’s kimono or for the people in the Kansai region who prefer this method. The Aishita is used for men’s kimono or for the people in the Kanto region who prefer this method. The texture after dyeing is slightly different according to which method is used. When the dye has been decided, it is dissolved in hot water (80 – 90C) in a tub, which is referred to as the Senshoku Yokuso, and the fabric has to be soaked in the dye. The fabric should be left in the dye for 10 to 15 minutes. The tub needs to be shaken from time to time to prevent uneven dyeing.
- 5. The Hon Kurozome
There are two kinds of techniques for the Hon Kurozome. One is the Kuro Hitashi Zome and the other is the Kuro Hikizome. The black dye is dissolved in hot water (90 – 95C) in a dye tub for the Kurozome and the fabric that has already been preliminarily dyed is soaked in the tub. The fabric needs to be left in the tub for 30 to 40 minutes and the tub has to be shaken from time to time to prevent unevenness in the dye. After that, the fabric is left in the tub overnight before it is taken out. The metal mesh and the cutting patterns are removed and the fabric has to be washed carefully to get rid of the excess dye. The fabric is dried naturally.
- 6. The Mon Uwae (drawing the family crest)
The family crest is drawn in the Monba (the position of the family crest), where it was protected by the metal mesh and the cutting pattern and left white. The high quality ink with less glue (glue contains animal organic protein), an extra-fine brush, a protractor and a ruler are used to draw the family crest. An experienced craftsman draws the family crest by hand. The family crest does not come off after dry-cleaning. When the family crest becomes soiled, it becomes as clean as new after washing.