So far we have covered tategasuri (warp ikat 縦絣 ) and yokogasuri (weft ikat 横絣). So what happens when you combine them? This technique is simply, generically, called tateyokogasuri (warp/weft ikat 縦横絣) and allows for some of the most complex types of ikat you will find. Within this generic branch are many styles. All are a combination of the techniques we have covered so far. Let’s take a look at one of my favorites – kagasuri (蚊絣).
While on the surface kagasuri (蚊-ka means mosquito), seems to be among the simplest of warp/weft ikat, it is the very size and simplicity that makes it an amazing feat of calculations. Using the photo above as a reference, it is easy to see how the style acquired its name.
To achieve the required level of precision, tedious measurements are calculated and plotted. Some dyers use graph-like grids, others make do with simply a ruler and good eyesight.
When a white background is desired, small bundles of yarn are gathered and minute marks dyed, using a flat bamboo stick that looks a bit like a tongue depressor with a wedge-shape sharpened end to rub the dye into the fiber.
When planning a dyed background, the same type of bundle is prepared as described above.
However, in this case the marks are not used to dye the yarns but to indicate the points at which the bundle is to be tied off.
The dyer must constantly compare the markings and the tied segments to the original drawing for accuracy.
Once all the careful calculations have been made, and all the tiny spots tied off, the bundles are gathered and dyed in the same manner as in tategasuri and yokogasuri.
During the weaving process itself, the craftsman must keep a sharp eye out for any distortions in the dyed pattern. If the dyer has been sloppy, there isn’t a whole lot that may be done. However, in most cases the weaver is able to make minor adjustments in how the dyed weft dots match up with the warp dots by pulling a bit to the right or left and leaving the excess yarn to dangle at the selvage.
In addition, adjustments may be made vertically by varying the intensity with which the weft is beat into place.
Tateyokogasuri allows for a wide range of complex and visually delicious designs. This week I have selected two very different samples for you.
The sample above is a vintage piece from a woman’s very nice, but not formal, kimono. While the dye technique is tateyokogasuri, the weave should be called omeshi (御召). For all intents and purposes, omeshi is an even faced weave. However it’s unique texture is derived from the use of over-spun yarns in both the warp and the weft. I will be discussing omeshi in greater depth at a later time.
Sample 201217-kagasuri $14 plus postage and tax ($12 even if purchased as part of a set. For more information about sets, click on this text.)
The sample below splendidly represents kagasuri (蚊絣). It is handwoven in silk with a white background and was originally designed to be used in a young man’s summer kimono. In this case, kagasuri may be considered the dye technique and the structure is a weave the Japanese call koubai (勾配) which will be discussed at a later time.
Sample 201218-kagasuri $14 plus postage and tax ($12 even if purchased as part of a set. For more information about sets, click on this text.)