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JAPANESE TRADITIONAL CRAFTS

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Nibutani Attush (bark clothes)

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Nibutani is placed in the southern Hokkaido, west to Tomakomai where the highest density of Ainu population. The meaning of Nibutani (Niputai in Ainu language) is a place where is a heavily wooded.

As the name suggests, there are two Traditional Craft made of woods in Nibutani. One of them is Nibutani Attush, clothes weaved by thread taken out from inner bark of Manchurian elms.

The techniques and tools to make thread and weave the Attush clothes is not different from 100 years ago, when they are thriving.

First, inner bark is peeled off from elm trees. Then the bark is soaked in a lake or hot springs. After the bark becomes soft enough, it is tore up to take out fibers. Then the fibers are spun to be threads, the threads are woven to be a fabric. The word Attush indicates this fabric or the clothes made of such fabrics.

To decollate the clothes, usually a piece of cotton textile is attached and hand-embroidered or an applique is put on.

The patterns are very unique. Ainu embroidery is combination of 3 patterns, whirlpool, needle, and rhombus, and is said to have talismanic value since needle drive away evils. Also, vertical stripe is common and is created by weaving.

For the nature of the material, Attush fabric is waterproof, tough, and easily permeated. In short, the function of this fabric is excellent and was sold well in Tohoku and Hokuriku area in the late 18th century.

It is unknown when the production began, but first appeared in a written document in 17th century. The production center is thought to be unchanged, in Hokkaido, Ezo domain.

Now, the toughness and the natural surface of the fabric is utilized and small goods such as purses and bags are made. The forms are modern, but the calmness of living in nature, tradition of Ainu people, certainly appeared on them.

Nibutani Attush was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 2013.


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