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Japanese textiles

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  • Joshua Badgley
    After reading something that made me scratch my head, I thought I would put this out to the list: What textiles were available when and to whom in Japanese
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 24, 2000
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      After reading something that made me scratch my head, I thought I would
      put this out to the list: What textiles were available when and to whom
      in Japanese history?

      Now, silk seems like the number one, verifiable fabric that everyone
      agreed on. How was it woven?

      Hemp is another one that I've seen verified as a good source of clothing
      throughout Japan, although would nobles have worn it, or would they have
      left it for the lower classes? How about the bushi?

      I've heard of cotton and wool coming over with the Europeans, and I don't
      doubt that those who could afford it made some garments out of it,
      although I don't have any good sources for it. Does anyone else know?

      I ask all of this because of a site I found which talks about cotton
      loincloths and kosode as if they were common. Does anyone have any good
      sources of information that I could look up.

      -Godric Logan/Ii ????
    • Anthony J. Bryant
      ... No, it s modern, I m afraid... Generally close enough for government work, but there are differences, primarily the sleeves. Effingham
      Message 2 of 9 , Oct 24, 2000
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        mercy67@... wrote:

        > Hello All!
        >
        > I know there is a difference between period and non-period kimonos. Is this
        > pattern period?
        >
        > http://www.larkbooks.com/home.nav/fw/index.html?lsid=3ae23ba33d33826aa3ef72388
        >
        > f4fa9d1
        >
        > Please let me know so I can buy the pattern and start making myself some
        > clothing!

        No, it's modern, I'm afraid...

        Generally close enough for government work, but there are differences, primarily
        the sleeves.


        Effingham
      • Barbara Nostrand
        Noble Cousins! Silk, like other kinds of cloth, was woven on rather ordinary looking hand operated looms. We have pictures of the things. The basic textile
        Message 3 of 9 , Oct 24, 2000
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          Noble Cousins!

          Silk, like other kinds of cloth, was woven on rather ordinary looking
          hand operated looms. We have pictures of the things.

          The basic textile question revolves around fibre. The Japanese had
          hemp and linen as well as silk. I believe that they also had cotton,
          but you should understand that cotton used to be a luxury fibre.
          Brocade was imported from China along with writing, Buddhism and
          beurocratic government. As for the bushi, it depends upon which
          bushi and when. The bushi were not always well off. Even Minomoto
          no Yoritomo was not really all that wealthy when compared to the
          court. A textile historian can probably say where cotton originated.
          I'm not convinced that cotton would be particularly cost-effective
          in Japan as separating the fibres from the seeds was very labour
          intensive. Flax, hemp and jute are all derived from long fibre
          plant stems (as I recall) and were more cost effective than silk.

          Your Humble Servant
          Solveig Throndardottir
          Amateur Scholar
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        • Barbara Nostrand
          Noble Cousin! You also mentioned wool. Wool would be produced by cultures which herd animals which the Japanese generally did not do. The major domesticated
          Message 4 of 9 , Oct 24, 2000
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            Noble Cousin!

            You also mentioned wool. Wool would be produced by cultures which
            herd animals which the Japanese generally did not do. The major
            domesticated animals in Japan are: dog, cat, horse, and ox. None
            of these are particularly good at producing wool. There are
            wool producing cultures rather closer to Japan than Europe.
            These include certain minority groups in China. Wool would be
            known to the Japanese in period (Japanese travelled as far as
            India fairly early on), but wool would remain for the large part
            an not terribly interesting import item until the English showed
            up. At least that is my impression. Again, this is NOT one of my
            fields of expertise.

            Note. Frederic asserts that some garments were padded with swan
            down to provide warmth during the Winter. While down has
            been used in the West, this suggests a general absence of
            both wool and cotton. HOWEVER, Frederic also asserts that
            the commoners wore cotton (!) clothing. I'm not sure where
            he gets this from as he does not document it. There is a
            Chinese letter for cotton in Japanese, so the Japanese
            probably had it before the Europeans arrived. He also makes
            no mention of flax, hemp or jute which is just plain strange
            as this is a group of fibres definitely known in both China
            and Japan.

            According to Kidder (CHJv1) Jomon period Japanese wore clothing
            woven from the inner bark of the mulberry tree. This means that
            they were weaving a cloth similar to that woven by the indians
            of the Pacific Northwest.

            According to Chinese sources (CHJv1) Yayoi period Japanese wore
            clothing made out of: silk, linen, cotton, and hemp. (You really
            do not want to wear jute.) Archeological finds from this period
            show that Yayoi period cloth was 20 - 30 cm wide. Impressions
            from pot bottoms also suggest the use of wild ramie fibre. The
            Yoyoi period weavers wove S0-twisted warp weave with a warp of
            six to ten threads and a woof of eleven to twenty-four threads.
            (That should make any re-enactor happy.) (ref CHJv1 p. 99)

            As described in Princess Tishi's screens and curtains, the nobility
            of the Heian period wore: damasks, brocades, and bombycines
            woven of silk. During the eighth century, the Japanese had mastered
            tie-dyeing, stenciling and batik along with a wide variety of
            continental weaving techniques. Generally speaking, Heian period
            cloth was less varied in both technique and artistry than was
            Nara cloth. (ref. CHJv2 p. 394) During this period, production was
            on a larger scale and tended to be more monochromatic and less
            complex in weave.

            Note. I suspect that peasant cloth was woven from locally available
            fibre which may have included cotton as well as even continued use
            of tree bark. Eventually as both trade and industry increased, even
            the peasants would be purchasing cloth.

            Your Humble Servant
            Solveig Throndardottir
            Amateur Scholar
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          • mercy67@aol.com
            In a message dated 00-10-24 18:50:46 EDT, you write:
            Message 5 of 9 , Oct 24, 2000
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              In a message dated 00-10-24 18:50:46 EDT, you write:

              <<
              I've heard of cotton and wool coming over with the Europeans, and I don't
              doubt that those who could afford it made some garments out of it,
              although I don't have any good sources for it. Does anyone else know?
              >>

              You know, I have a sashiko book that refers to the Japanese having cotton
              introduced to them in the 15th century. Before that there was fabrics made
              of grass, tree-bark fibers, ramie or silk. It was the 18th century when
              Sashiko was introduced (or so this book says). Who knows if this is correct
              (Sashiko and Beyond by Saikoh Takano...nice embroidery book).

              --Mercy
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