Shibori: A Classical Dyeing Technique From Japan

Shibori: A classical dyeing technique from Japan

There are several variations on the resist-dyeing technique for textile, such as the wax-driven batik of Indonesia and the American tradition of tie-dye. Shibori, which literally translates to “to wring” or “to squeeze,” is the most popular style of resist-dyeing in Japan. In shibori, like in other forms of resist-dyeing, patterns are applicable to raw cloth. Then these get change to resist the dye, leaving behind the original fibers. In spite of its antiquity, the craft is still widely available in modern marketplaces.

Shibori, or Japanese tie-dyeing, is a technique developed in Japan. Yet, such a comparison does not do justice to this very storied craft, which has a history stretching back over 1,300 years. From its arrival to Japan in the eighth century, shibori methods get refine and get improvement upon, especially during the Edo period.

You may find examples of this kind of dying on a wide variety of source fabric today, from antique clothes and artwork shown in the world’s finest museums to modern couches, beds, and accessories like shawls and scarves.

If that piques your curiosity, keep reading to learn all there is to know about the shibori dyeing technique.

Background of the shibori

From the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Andes and the Rajasthani kingdoms of yesteryear to the peoples of the ancient Middle East and the merchants of the Silk Road, tie-dyeing methods is in use for ages all over the globe.

It is unclear when shibori was first developed in Japan, however there are artifacts from the highest social strata using shibori-dyed goods as early as the Nara era (AD 710 – 784). Todai-ji is one of the Seven Great Temples still located in the ancient city of Nara in modern-day Japan. When it was first established, Emperor Shomu sent gifts to the temple, one of which was a piece of fabric coloured using the shibori method.

We also know that shibori came to Japan via China. And despite its ancient origins (which date back more than a thousand years), it didn’t become popular in Japan. But then the Edo period’s sweeping changes to the country’s cultural and aesthetic landscape (1603 – 1868) happens. Hemp, a fibrous plant native to Japan, was useful since it was a more cost-effective alternative. Other traditional textiles like cotton and silk were actually expensive. In addition, those of lesser social status were not allow to don silk (if they could even get it). This contributes to the spread of shibori as a means of revitalizing garments.

Eventually, new iterations of the method emerged, and other dyeing practices, such as tsutsugaki (the practice of making decorative patterns using rice paste), started to catch on.

Techniques of Shibori

Shibori is a broad term that includes several distinct types of resist dyeing. A few examples are as follows:

  • Kanoko shibori: Kanoko shibori is a kind of tie-dye. It uses elastic bands to bind fabric together in a tight design before dying it.
  • Miura shibori: Miura shibori is a pattern develop by pinching and looping thread around tiny pieces of cloth.
  • Arashi shibori: To make an arashi shibori design, cloth is wrapped tightly around a pole. It keeps secure with thread, and then crumpled. The end product is a linear diagonal design.
  • Kumo shibori: Kumo shibori is a method whereby pebbles and other small found things get tie into cloth. It is using thread to create intricate, web-like designs.
  • Nui shibori: After dyeing, the stitches that put in the nui shibori technique get ustitch. This is leaving a tight, pinch design.
  • Itajime shibori: In the Itajime shibori method, cloth first get fold and then sandwitch between blocks with shapes. These blocks often of wood, but occasionally plastic to produce designs, as opposed to utilizing binding and cinching.

Application of Shibori 

The purpose for which shibori become useful depends on the individual craftsperson. Shibori methods is applicable on any fabric that takes color.

Kimonos, yukatas, and haori coats all have this pattern. Shibori is also a part in artworks, which is present at both Japanese museums like the Kyoto Shibori Museum and internationally recognised institutions like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Handkerchiefs, furoshiki (multi-purpose wrapping towels), pillows, and bags are some examples of the more mundane goods that might include this design.

Traditional considerations have less of a role in deciding what to use shibori on than the actual use of the methods.

Shibori and other dyes

The hippie counterculture of the 1960s in the United States is frequently credited for popularizing tie-dye in the West, which is sometimes related to shibori. Nevertheless, with shibori, the artist uses thread to highlight a pattern of tiny, repetitive dots over the cloth. Because of this attention to detail, traditional tie-dye patterns tend to be far more complex and sophisticated than those of today.

Unlike the multicolor designs typical of tie-dyeing, which come after using the simpler method of twisting and tying the shirt’s midsection, shibori often only employs a single color.

Ombre is a kind of gradient dyeing that has become more common in recent years. The cloth is simply dipped into a container of dye. The amount of time a segment of fabric is arise in the dye determines the shade. Also, the richness of the color.  Making this a far easier process for novices than shibori (i.e. the style of the ombre).

Features of Shibori

Shibori is distinct from its American counterpart in a number of ways, the most obvious being the pattern’s greater complexity. In addition, shibori fabrics are often monochrome and indigo is the usual dye that applicable.

Bottom line 

The textile method was first applicable for clothes in the late 19th century. And now is also popular until the early 20th century. During time it has infleuence by the growing interest in Japanese art and culture in the West. Nowadays, shibori fabrics are useful not just for clothes but also for other home furnishings including curtains, throws, and cushions.

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