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From ancient times, Japanese people have made threads and materials out of various trees and grasses, such as Wisteria, Elm, Linden,
Kudzu, Paper Mulberry, Banana tree, Hemp and Ramie and wove textiles to cloth themselves and made daily tools. They are simple and yet greatly impress us today with their beauty and freshness.
Gallery Kei deals in these old folk crafts and pottery, far beyond the usual range of antiques, as well as antique bast-fiber textiles, usually called primitive textiles.
About Bast- Fibers click here
A special variety of the mulberry tree referred to as paper mulberry
yields a fiber that is well known for its use in papermaking in Japan.
However, long before the technique of papermaking was brought from China,
paper mulberry fibers were used to make thread for weaving cloth in Shikoku
area.This cloth, called Tafu., was used for both garments and utilitarian sacks by common people. The tradition of paper mulberry cloth is continued by people in Kitoson,Tokushima Prefecture.
Papermaking from paper mulberry became popular and was used in various ways in Japanese daily life. Thick paper infused with persimmon tannin and oil was used for making both umbrellas and dochugitraveling coats,called Kamiko, because of its excellent waterproof properties.
Paper production required
extensive labor, and people were careful to recycle used paper as much as
possible. They cut paper that had been used into long narrow tape-like
strips in order to create long thread.
This thread was woven as weft into beautiful cloth called Shifu, with silk or cotton used for the warp. Though turning used paper into weaving yarn was hard work, it provided both softness and warmth to the cloth, and a practice encouraged by traditional attitudes towards conservation and avoiding waste.
Of note, until the early 20th century, there were very unusual types of cloth and work garments made from paper in what are now modern Niigata and Yamagata prefectures. One example consisted of wisteria thread used for the warp and wisteria thread wrapped with recycled paper for the weft thread. We call it "Otszure" and it is a warmer and softer textile than cloth which contains no paper.
Shifu is a cloth woven with paper thread twisted from finely cut Japanese paper. It has been made since the early Edo period and used by people in their everyday lives. Among the variations of shifu, is one made with both warp and weft paper thread. This is called moro-jifu.
Hiroko Karuno, a resident of Toronto, Canada has researched a variety of handmade kozo paper in Japan and practised the entire process from paper-thread-making to moro-jifu weaving.
This exhibition at Naoya Shiga’s old residence built in the 1930’s, shows her moro-jifu woven with undyed natural coloured thread and thread dyed with soot, indigo and loquat leaves.
Hiroko Karuno Moro-jifu
Date: Friday May 27th until Monday May 30thTime: 10:00 ~ 16:30Place: Naoya Shiga Old Residence1237-2 Nakabatake-cho, Nara-cityTelephone: 0742-26-6490
How to get there:
Take the city-round-trip bus from JR Nara station or Kintetsu-railway Nara station; get off at the Wari-ishi stop and walk east for 5 minutes.