Thursday, July 05, 2007

Japanese Textile References

On the weekend, in the midst of a horrible cold that won't go away, Wayne and I dashed into Nagoya. Partly because there were a few business things I needed to buy, and partly because I needed some cheering up from a head that feels like its going to explode.

I found the most gorgeous book to distract me from how I'm feeling.
Its English title is; Child Kimono and the colors of Japan Kimono Collcetion of Katsumi Yumioka
The book has over 200 pages of the most scrumptious pictures of children's kimono AND it's written in both Japanese and English! I have seen many gorgeous kimono books here, but they often leave me wanting for more - more information, as I can't read them.
A lot of the information is about the dyes, the symbology of the colour and the plant used to create that colour. It's really interesting stuff. What really hooked me in though was some of the information about certain motifs. I'm learning gradually about the symbology of motifs used in Japanese design, but I want to learn a lot more.
Please excuse the photo quality of the pictures, I snapped them quickly, but I thought you might want to see inside this gorgeous book....
Japanese Plum Pattern
Carp Pattern
I have long known that the carp is used as a symbol of strength in Japan due to the way it swims upstream, but this book expands and says;
"Carp was once believed to be a spiritual fish and
even today is considered a symbol of a successful career, based on a Chinese
legend in whish a carp jumped over the Dragon Gate in the rapid current of the
upper Yellow River, transforming into a dragon as it leapt. The legend
gave rise to the phrase "toryu-mon" (gateway to success), which was used in the
olden days to describe difficult employment tests for government
officials. Another legend recounts how a carp is the king of 360 kinds of
fish with 36 dorsal scales; this carp then transforms into a dragon with 81
scales on its back. In Japan, a dynamic pattern of leaping carp is drawn
on a boy's kimono in celebration of the birth of a baby boy, in the hopes of
securing his good health and success. The patterns of carp streamers are
applied on windmills and banners used in the Boy's Day ceremony."
Hifu and Michiyuki
Shidare-yanagi iro (the colour of fresh leaves)
While I was at the bookshop, I couldn't resist also picking up the latest edition of Kateigaho International. I discovered this magazine in my first few days in Japan this time around, while on my honeymoon in Kyoto. It is published quarterly and is a lush magazine on Japan's art and culture. I had a subscription for a while, but recently let it run out. At the moment, I make sure I get a copy from the bookstore, but when I return to Australia, I'm going to have to sign up for an international subscription - I'm addicted. One of the features in this edition (Summer 2007, Vol 16) is "The Inside Spin on Japan's Textile Traditions". It has some beautiful photos of different traditional dyeing techniques, including my favourite, indigo.

Indigo, Japan Blue; Lafcadio Hearn wrote of Japan as being a land where the very air was blue and; "...the little houses under their blue roofs, the little shop-fronts hung with blue, and the smiling little people in their blue costumes"

The magazine goes into the history of indigo in Japan as well as many of the printing techniques such as kasuri and shiborizome.

Ahh... now all I need is to get over this cold and find some time and then I have some great reading to do with a cup of tea.

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