Go behind the scenes at Domyo in Japan, where the centuries-old methodic process of kumihimo braiding is practiced and protected. This Japan House Los Angeles video documents how kumihimo artisans hand-dye bundles of silk, dry them, and wind them onto reels, then spools.
When the thread is loaded onto wooden bobbins called tama (meaning ‘egg’), Domyo braiders weave colorful cords on both a takadai, using a bamboo tool called a hera to beat the threads into place,” or a marudai, “passing threads back and forth over the top of the stand according to a specific sequence to produce a cord with a karakumi design.”
For ten generations, Domyo has been a family-run business of traditional cordage artisans. From their site:
“Japan is home the original art of braiding known as kumihimo that got its start in the Asuka and Nara Periods (538-794CE) and continues to be in use to the present day. With the use of multicolored threads, a single kumihimo cord takes quite some time to produce, yet it has never played a leading role in the world of traditional handicrafts. Rather it served as an essential decoration, an accessory which has always served to add a splash of color to Japanese culture.”
Kumihimo—’gathered threads’ in Japanese—has a rich historical significance, particularly among samurai, who utilized it as a functional and ornamental means of fastening their lamellar and barding armors. Today, Kumihimo cords are still in use, serving as fasteners for haori jackets, as well as obijime, which are used to secure obi knots and embellish kimonos.
Watch these thread, dyeing, weaving, and made in Japan videos next on TKSST:
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• Thread painting a European Robin, a hand embroidery demonstration
• The Link Between Japanese Samurai and Real Indigo
• In Search of Forgotten Colours – Sachio Yoshioka and the Art of Natural Dyeing
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