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Ojiya Tsumugi: Pongee


A mystic surface gives a plenty of nuance to this special tsumugi fabric. Ojiya Tsumugi is silk pongee fabric produced in Ojiya city, Niigata prefecture.

It is said that the tsumugi has been produced there since middle Edo (1603- 1867) era, along with silkworm culture. Its origin, Tidimi, was made as the second job for farmers in the winter. But for the quality, a lot of merchants from Kyoto and Joshu, where then center of fashion, traveled to buy them during Edo period. Now, both are known as the local special products.

The secret of this artistic effect is artificial wrinkles called “Shibo” and particular weaving technique.

Shibo art, inherited from Tidimi production, is made by fixing some parts of thread by glue and washing off after weaving. This additional step can add natural unevenness and pleasant touch, and it makes the fabric more comfortable, too.

When weaving, the patterns are drawn by only warps and can add very naïve atmosphere on the surface. It is a bit smoky, however, does not spoil the vividness of the patterns. With such specialty, Ojiya Tsumugi is popular as casual suit or dressy clothes.

From producing silk thread by spinning to creating a beautifully shiny fabric with sophisticated patterns, its steps are mostly done by hand. Recently, Ojiya Tsumugi production is adopting modern patterns and designs and used to make dolls, ties, small daily goods, and ordinary clothes.

Ojiya Tsumugi was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1975.

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