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Japanese Embroidery

Embroidered fragment of a woman's obi (sash), Japan, early 19th century. Silk velvet with silk and gold metal thread embroidery. Embroidered fragment of a woman's obi (sash), Japan, early 19th century. Silk velvet with silk and gold metal thread embroidery. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, acc. no. FE.23-1973.

Japanese embroidery (nihon shishu) is characterised by its use of silk and metal threads (passing) to embroider intricate patterns on delicate silk fabrics. Embroidery in Japan is generally carried out irrespective of the ground material itself (free-style embroidery). Embroidery is being used on kimono and many other garments and textiles, including the fukusa (coverings), wall hangings and bedspreads.

Japanese embroidery, known as nui ('sewing') before the Meji era (1868-1912) and known as nihon shishu after the introduction of European techniques, was originally mainly used for garments that were worn at religious ceremonies. Over the centuries it became a widely accepted form of artistic production, which was and still is popular among wide groups of the Japanese population.

Throughout the centuries, Kyoto has been one of the main centres of embroidery production in Japan (click here). Kyo-nui is the general term for the Kyoto embroidery.

Japanese embroidery is generally worked on the basis of a drawing that is made upon the fabric. After making the drawing the colours of the embroidery threads are selected. These depend upon the patterns, the season of the year during which the garment is intended to be worn, the age and gender of the wearer, etc. After completing the embroidery, which is done on an embroidery frame, the excess threads on the reverse are cut off. The obverse is covered with a wheat starch and smoothed with steam, to make the threads stronger and shiny.

Japanese embroidery is generally assessed on the basis of four elements, namely the technique itself, the designs of the embroidery, the colours that have been applied, and the selection of one or more of the 43 traditional embroidery methods that were used.

Source: KUSANO, Shizuka (2006). The Fine Art of Kimono Embroidery. Kodansha America.

Digital source (retrieved 30 September 2016).

See also the blog on Japanese embroidery (retrieved 1 October 2016).

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 30 Septembeer 2016).

WV

 

Last modified on Sunday, 02 October 2016 11:26