''Left neglected and unpolished
Even a bright gem
Will forever be as dull
As an earthen tile''
Some poetry is always a good start I believe.
A craft most say is ''dying'' and being ''out of fashion'', a craft I find enchanting.
The kimono is a word originally used in Japanese for clothing ,which actually means a "thing to wear". From ki "wear" and mono "thing" and its history starts as early as 5th century AD in the Heian Period. During the Edo period (1603–1867 AD), the sleeves began to grow in length, especially among unmarried women, and the Obi became wider and tying became an art.
Kimonos are considered as treasured art works and one of the most beautiful crafts in my own opinion.
On a recent trip to Japan I followed two master-makers of kimonos and found their stories fascinating. I wish we could all build a life around something so beautiful and not worry for the industry for a while, but instead paint heavy silk crepe and hand stitch the borders of a kimono ready to be dyed.. Its definitely not that simple as you can imagine.
Ithchiku Kubota was born in Tokyo in 1917 and is one of the most renowned kimono masters in the world. He mastered the art of Tsugigahaha - a technique very popular during the Muromachi period.
A combination of tie-dyeing, stitch resist, brush-painting, applied metallic leaf and sometimes even embroidery. The technique suddenly disappeared from all records at about the same time the cloth was created, which has lead to it being jokingly referred to as ‘ghost dyeing'.
Kubota devoted his lifetime to reinvent the enchanting technique and called it - Itchiku Tsugihaha. Nowadays The Itchiku Kubota Museum is located at the outskirts of Kawaguchi-ko city, a comfortable 2 hours train ride from down-town Tokyo. The museum host one of the most significant works of Kubota as the ‘Symphony of Light’, ''Four seasons''.
Not so world known, despite it should be, is another master-maker - the Tokyo-based independent artist Emika Iwashita.
An expert dyer of Edo-komon-style kimonos whose repeated, especially intricate patterns are often so tiny as to be almost microscopicspecialty is stencil-dyeing, which requires just the right amount of constant pressure with her right hand as she glides a wooden spatula across the paper stencil covering a 13-meter-long, 30-cm-wide roll of heavy silk fabric.
“The work is so delcate that it’s affected by the weather, and my health conditin. And I must finish one kimono in one day, because if I wait until another day, the paper stencil pattern I use will get dry and shrink.”
Iwashita is one of the very few women in the craft and she became the first-ever female dyer accredited by the government as a dentō kōgeishi (traditional craftsperson) in the field of Tokyo-some komon — a title given only to artisans with top-notch skills.
Since her presence became more vivid the number of women in the profession increased from 505 to 602. And probably thats how a lifetime passion creates more life.
And to me it stays, one of the most beautiful craftsmanship in human history.I stay enchanted and fully insured by it!