I may have said this before, but every day I am delighted and amazed anew by the wealth of colors and designs and the sheer beauty of the marvelous silks available from Japan for designing my new scarves. I take great pleasure in carefully choosing from the hundreds, perhaps more, of kimono and fabrics and discerning which ones will be the most versatile–will be able to blend with several others in order to be combined in a myriad of ways; which will provide the greatest amount of variety within the same piece; which will yield the greatest amount of continuous fabric without waste. This is a learning process, learning not simply by trial and error although, of course that is necessarily part of the process, but by beginning to understand the terms and what they mean. Today I await the arrival of a piece that has all the most desirable elements: karinui; furisode; rinzu; yuzen. Let me explain what the words mean and how that adds up to perfection for my purposes.
Karinui: this is essentially a bolt of fabric 14.2 inches wide, which has been cut apart and loosely sewn into the shape of a kimono. The customer could then see the complex ways in which the elements of the design would fit together in order to visualize what their finished kimono would look like. When unstitched, the result is four long continuous pieces.
Furisode: this is one of the most beautiful types of kimono. It is a formal kimono, traditionally worn by unmarried women. I would describe the Furisode as flamboyant; it is the kimono with the long languorous flowing sleeves pictured in most paintings by artists such as John Singer Sargent. The paintings above are by a Dutch Impressionist painter named George Hendrik Breitner.
Rinzu: this refers to the glossy texture of the fabric. Rinzu refers to the underlying woven design, ranging from simple elegant stream-like patterns to traditional Japanese geometric Sashiko designs to elaborate floral patterns.
Yuzen: Yuzen is a traditional Japanese dyeing technique. This excerpt is from a site called Japan Atlas, “The distinctive coloring of Kaga Yuzen comes from the use of the so-called five hues, including indigo blue, dark red, yellow ochre, grassy green, and ancient purple, which are used, along with gray, to create the basic pattern. One technique also involves a gradation of color from the edge to the middle of the pattern. Many design motifs, which include themes such as birds and flowers or mountains and streams, create a feeling of sumptuous elegance. Carried out by hand by a single artisan, the entire coloring process, including the creation and execution of the design, takes a very long time (about two or three months) to complete. During the work it is necessary to remove rice paste, which is used as a dye-resist material, and excess dye and this is the most famous part of the process. Consequently, dyers rinsing out their cloth in the Sai River and the Asano River which flow through the city, used to be a common sight in Kanazawa; the spectacle is known as Yuzen Nagash.”