Treasures from John’s Collection: Karamiori
RA-WEAVE MICHIYUKI: I have many favorites in my collection, most are deliberately sought after, but this particular michiyuki I came upon quite by accident. It is the only true Japanese ra-weavon piece I have been able to acquire.
True Ra Hand Woven Michiyuki
The very first quality I noticed was the the hand, the touch of the fabric.
At that moment I wasn’t aware of the weave structure or even the color for that matter. The hand has such a wonderfully sensuous texture–firm but yielding with what I can only think of as what the taste of chocolate would feel like if our senses were altered.

Hand woven, it appears to never have been worn. It is in pristine condition.
Detail of Front
Photograph of a Portion of Silk Buddhist Kesa
Kesa are vestments worn by Buddhist priests. Originally they were sewn from scraps of fabric offered to them in compassion by believers. As time went on and the Church became more powerful, a great deal of opulence was introduced. This is an excellent example of such a treasure.
Detail Illustrating Structure of Weave
Magnified detail showing how the strands are divided and spread to create the illusion of curves.
I had the hardest time figuring out how this was woven. It appears to be a classic sha structure. What is most curious is how the illusion of curves is created to form the dynamic movement of the waves. Each thread appears to be a small bundle of strands. At certain points the strands are splayed, making the definition of the line a bit fuzzy. As these splayed segments touch one another, they fool the eye into creating a curved line. Examine the detail above and tell me if you come to a different conclusion…
40x Magnification of Supplemental Weft
Refer back to the first image of the kesa. You’ll see geometric embellishments. These have been added as supplemental wefts in silver grey, silver white, and cream colored silks.
Tapestry Sha Naogya Obi
Technically speaking, this piece should be classified as sha, the warp being made up of pairs of twisting yarns. But as you can see, it is also an interesting version of tapestry weaving (綴織, tsuzureori).  While taking on a somewhat simple, airy look, the complexity of combining the two techniques is quite amazing.
Detail Showing Structure of Weave
View of Straight-Forward Sha Weave Sructure
Have you read the section on karamiori yet? In the opening of that article I mentioned how fabrics may become bruised through rough handling. The image above is a close up of a portion of a delicate and wispy silk haori in my collection. As you can see, the yarns have been over spun causing them to double back on themselves, much like the rubber band on a toy balsa-wood airplane. A curious thing was done to this piece…
In a very controlled manner, the weave was bruised. That is, the threads were pushed to one side or the other in a systematic way to create a pattern of undulating lines. This was done selvage to selvage in the bolt so as to create an interesting movement over the entire garment, with sections alternating between blocks of bruising, and blocks of pristine sha.
Segment of Haori Showing Controled Bruising
Magnification of Tightly Spun Yarns and Pushed-Aside Warp
Both how tightly the yarns have been spun and the nudging to the side of the warp threads may be seen in the shot below and to the right. Isn’t it fascinating how a creative mind will work?
40x Magnification