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Shiozawa Tsumugi (silk pongee)


Shiozawa is located in Uonuma area in Niigata prefecture, where is famous for the long history of linen clothes. It is said that the origin of textile in this area dates back to about 1200 years ago in Nara period (710-784), and some have even kept in Shousouin, a treasure storehouse in that period.

Shiozawa Tsumugi was developed based on this linen clothes called Echigo Johu, and the beginning is thought to be about 250 years ago, the middle of the Edo period (1603-1867).

The distinguished characteristic is its color and texture. Basically, the patterns are made by kasuri technique (yarn dyed), with tying thread to protect from dyeing or stenciling colors to the required part of the thread. Popular patterns are mostly pretty fine such as Kagasuri, collection of tiny crosses, Juji Gasuri, a bit bigger crosses than Kagasuri, and Kikko Gasuri, a combination of hexagons. The colors used for Shiozawa Tsumugi have very soft, gentle atmosphere like pale pink and pale yellow. The small patterns are completely suitable for such mood.

The thread used for Shiozawa Tsumugi play an important role, too. For the warp, raw silk thread or Tamaito silk thread (produced from cocoon with two silkworms) which are not yarned and therefore smooth are used, and for the weft, hand-twisted floss silk is used. This combination can add extra smoothness, tender texture, and warmness.

The production of Shiozawa Tsumugi is divided into designing, dyeing, pattern making, weaving, and finishing. Since the kasuri method is used to express the patterns, mostly done by hand carefully.
The production amount is therefore very small, and Shiozwa Tsumugi is sometimes called a dream fabric.

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

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