Yumihama traditional resist-dyed textiles Yumihama gasuri
A traditional craft with the long and honorable history of Tottori
Appreciate the beautiful blue fabric
Yumihama Gasuri is a textile produced in the region surrounding Sakai Minato City, Tottori Prefecture. The origin of the name, Yumihama, was taken from Yumigahama, the name of the curved shore that stretches from Yonago City to Sakai Minato City, which stretches for more than 20km. The Kasuri is the textile woven with the Kasuri Ito (the Kasuri threads), which are dyed before weaving. The foundation color of the textile is navy blue and the patterns are created with the white threads. The white threads that have a hint of a navy blue tone give the textile a tasteful style. Yumihama Gasuri has been popular among the locals from olden times. The characteristics of Yumihama Gasuri are the texture of the coarse fabric and the plain patterns. In the olden days, local farmers needed work clothes that were easy to move about in and wash. Yumihama Gasuri was an ideal textile for such requirements. The use of the textile has become more diversified in recent years and familiarity with the textile spread from farmers to people in general. Various items useful for daily life are made with Yumihama Gasuri including bags, coasters, table linen and coin purses.
The history of Yumihama Gasuri goes back to 1751, the middle of the Edo period (1603 – 1868). The technique to weave the Kasuri textile was advanced in the San’in region, which includes Tottori Prefecture and Shimane Prefecture. There were already various textiles produced in the region such as Hirose Gasuri, Yumihama Gasuri and Kurayoshi Kasuri. So much so that the San’in region became famous for the production of the Kasuri textiles. Yumihama Gasuri was the most popular and most valued textile among them all and used mainly by the commoners, especially farmers. The pioneers of Yumihama Gasuri in the olden days were the local housewives. They started producing Yumihama Gasuri while they were making the plain cotton textiles to make their work clothes, clothes for outings and various other things useful for daily life, including covers for the futon (Japanese bed mat). The production of the plain cotton textile was their main work in those days and the production of the Kasuri textile was a sideline business. The production of Yumihama Gasuri peaked from the Edo period to the Taisho period (1912 – 1926) and Tottori Prefecture was the third largest in the production of the Kasuri textile in Japan. Since Yumihama Gasuri was designated as an intangible cultural asset in 1975, many organizations and workshops have been established nationwide to preserve the Kasuri production. They play a part in promoting and preserving Yumihama Gasuri.
General Production Process
- 1. Sorting the weft threads
This is a basic process to make the Kasuri. The number of weft threads are put together with the Tane Ito (a standard thread) to match the requirements for weaving the textile. The threads are pulled out from cotton and spun by hand carefully using a spinning wheel. The threads vary depending on how the threads are spun; therefore, it requires an experienced hand to spin the threads properly.
- 2. Designing
This is an important process to decide the Kasuri design. The full-scale Kasuri patterns are drawn on Japanese paper so they have to be very precise. The designs tends to be motifs that express the wish for the sound health of a family or a good harvest, for example.
- 3. The Tanegami (making a paper pattern)
When there are many textiles with the same Kasuri patterns to be produced, a paper pattern is made for all of them. The Kasuri patterns are cut from tanned paper.
- 4. Making the Genshi (the foundation threads)
The Genshi are an important foundation for the Kasuri. If the threads become stretched, the Kasuri patterns are ruined. Therefore, the key point in this process is to fix the threads using the frame so that the threads are not stretched unnecessarily.
- 5. Winding the threads around the Edai (a pattern table)
The threads are wound around the Edai in this process. The threads have to be wound with the same density along the width of the design. It is most important to have this process done by an experienced person.
- 6. The Sumitsuke (marking with ink)
The threads wound in process 5 are marked with ink in alignment with the paper pattern.
- 7. Tying the weft threads
The weft threads that were marked in the previous process are tied where it is marked.
- 8. Dyeing the threads
The threads are dyed in Ai (indigo blue), which is a distinctive feature of Yumihama Gasuri. Generally, a chemical dye is used. However, for Yumihama Gasuri, the special dye is made and used. There are some methods to dye the threads. One method is to use the rare Ai (indigo), which has been fermented and mix it with a chemical dye. Another method is referred to as the Haijiru Hakko Date, which uses the dye with lime mixed in. These methods are used to bring out the distinctive texture of traditional Yumihama Gasuri.
- 9. The Kasuri Kukuri Toki (releasing the tied parts of threads)
When the threads are dyed, the tied parts of threads are untied. After that, the threads are washed to get rid of the impurities and dried.
- 10. The Kasuri Yokoito Wari (sorting of the Kasuri weft threads)
The Kasuri foundation threads are sorted and wound around the frame.
- 11. Winding the weft threads
The weft threads are sorted to the length that is required for weaving the textile. Then, the threads are wound carefully. Preparation before weaving is completed in this process and the weaver starts weaving using both the weft and the warp threads.
Where to Buy & More Information
Yumihama Gasuri Denshokan
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