Japan

Japan

Omoto Shoten is possibly Japan’s only embroidery thread shop that still sells a wide range of pure silk threads, including fresh threads that still need to be dyed. The shop receives orders from all over the world. Silk threads are sold by the weight, using a scale.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York houses a woman's ceremonial outer robe (uchikake) that dates to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. It is made of tie-dyed satin damask with silk embroidery and gold thread couching. The robe, which measures 176.5 x 123.2 cm, was traditionally worn without a sash on top of another robe called the kosode.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses a Japanese embroidery showing the death of the Buddha (parinirvana). It measures 214 x 176 cm and was completed at the end of the eighteenth century. The wall hanging is made of silk with silk and metal thread embroidery.

Sagara-nui (or sagura-nui) is the Japanese term for a form of French knot. This technique is regarded as being part of the Kyo-nui ('Kyoto embroidery') tradition. WV

The sashi-nui style of Japanese embroidery is characterised by the use of long and short stitches. It is often used to make pictorial figures by overlapping the stitches.

Sashiko ('little stabs' in Japanese, from sasu, 'to pierce') is a form of embroidery using a running stitch, usually with a white thread on an indigo blue background. This type of embroidery is found all over Japan, but particularly in the (colder) north.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a special fireman's hood (haori) from Japan. It dates to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. It is made of a quilted material decorated in the sashiko style. The thick cloth would be drenched with water before the fireman would try to extinguish the fire. The hood measures 31.5 x 42.5 cm.

Iida Shinshichi III (1852-1909) was the director of the Takashimaya department store. He is credited with the promotion and export of Japanese embroidery, especially Kyoto embroidery, onto the world market.

Shonai sashiko is a traditional technique from the Shonai region, Yamagata, in the northwest of Japan. It was originally used to combine two or more layers of hemp or cotton cloth, and is characterised by straight lines that cross and recross each other, and made with running stitch. Formerly a stitching technique, it is now more of an embroidery technique used for one layer of cloth. 

Su-nui is a Japanese embroidery method that is characterised by a monochrome ground material, a limited range of colours of the embroidery threads and fine lines.

Suga-nui is the Japanese term for the horizontal satin stitch. This technique is regarded as being part of the Kyo-nui ('Kyoto embroidery') tradition. WV

Surihaku is a Japanese embroidery technique that uses metal leaf applied to the ground material. It was becoming popular during the Momoyama period (1568-1600).

The embroiderer Rishichi Tanaka from Kyoto, Japan, initiated embroidery trading and thereby stimulated and promoted the art of embroidery.

The Tenjukoku Shucho ('Embroidery of the Long Life in Heaven') is a set of original fragments plus those of two large draperies, that themselves are thirteenth century reproductions of the original embroidered silk that had the representation of the Buddhist paradise. They are the oldest extant pieces of embroidery known from Japan, apart from some excavated examples.

Tokuda Shoten is a firm in Kyoto, Japan, that makes and sells tools and instruments for the embroidery industry. The traditional shop is filled with embroidery frames, needles, spools, and thread-twisting machines.

Tsugihari-nui is the Japanese term for the double running, or Holbein stitch. WV

Tsujigahana is a Japanese form of decoration that includes nui ('embroidery', lit. 'sewing'), shi-bori (a Japanese technique of tie-dyeing), kaki-e ('painting') and surihaku.

Ura-nuki is a Japanese style of embroidery with large motifs and long parallel stitches. It was particularly used in the Momoyama period (1568-1600).

Wari-nui is the Japanese term for an embroidery technique used to make bird's feathers, leaves or petals. The technique is generally known as the split stitch.

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