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Before Cotton - Japanese textiles

Kei Kawasaki, JP

We tend to think that long ago common people wore clothes made of cotton, but it wasn’t that long ago that cotton first became available in Japan. It is believed that it was in the mid-Edo period (c. mid-18th century), that cotton began to be harvested and from that time forward became available to the common people in the form of cloth.

So what kind of fibers did the common people weave into cloth before they could easily afford cotton? The answer lies in the wild trees and plants that grew in the mountains and in the fields: elm, linden, wisteria, paper mulberry, kudzu, banana fiber, hemp, and ramie. I'll describe each of these materials as we watch a series of slides.

Kei Kawasaki is the owner of Gallery Kei, a Japanese antique textile gallery in Kyoto, Japan. She started her carrier as an artist who created bags and art objects by combining leathers and antique textiles in 1980 and opened a workshop and store in 1992. She gradually devoted herself to collecting various kinds of antique textiles to examine their materiality, history, and cultural backgrounds, and finally opened Gallery Kei in 2001 on Teramachi-dori, one of Kyoto’s major venues for antique. Since then, she has focused her efforts on activities as an evangelist of antique textiles by sharing her experience and knowledge with visitors from different many countries.
More information: gallerykei.jp

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