Saturday, January 19, 2008


Kasuri () is a Japanese textile technique that means splashed pattern. This technique can be done in the warp or weft or both. It is a style of plain weaving that uses a resist dyeing process similar to tie-dye. The threads are covered with paper, or plastic or any other material that will resist the dye. Thus the warp or weft threads are dyed in patterns or designs before the threads are woven. The completely white areas, the seismic, fuzzy edges of the design and the irregularities in the dyeing of the threads can identify this technique. Indigo dye is used for kasuri as well as other colors of dye. This weaving and dye technique is very labor intensive.

This type of fabric came from India to Indonesia, then by way of Okinawa and China to Japan. In India and Indonesia it is known as Ikat. Ikat means "to tie" or "to bind" in the Malay l
anguage and is the common term that identifies this technique.

There are four kinds of kasuri. Warp kasuri (tategasuri), weft kasuri, (yokogasuri), double kasuri (tateyokogasuri) where both the warp and the weft are tie-dyed before weaving and meet in precise patterns, and egasuri or picture kasuri where a picture such as a carp, flowers, fans, temples, tortoises or other auspicious images are tied and dyed into the warp.

Ikats have been woven in cultures all over the world. In Central and South America, the Central Asian country of Uzbekistan, South-East Asian countries of India, Indonesian islands of Bali and Kalimantan.

Like any craft or art form, ikats vary widely from country to country and region to region. Designs may have symbolic of ritual meaning or have been developed for export trade.

These ukiyoe prints show kasuri fabrics. They are all by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753?-1806)
He is considered one of the greatest Ukiyo-e artists, being specially known by his portraits of beautiful women, or bijin-ga.