What is Tsujigahana?

Itchiku Kubota used chirimen (silk crepe) as a fabric base for his kimono, which were mostly Furisode (long sleeved). Through the process known as Shibori, the panels of fabric were shaped and dyed independently, before being joined together and assembled to form the robe.

Shibori is the base for Tsujigahana, a tie-dyeing technique which uses drawings and foil impressions and which appeared in literature at the end of the XVth century and disappearing some 100 years later, only to be replaced by a more successful technique called "Yuzen". Tsujigahana’s original technique is still a mystery, which Itchiku Kubota tried to discover relentlessy until he opted to reinvent it. As homage to the original Tsujigahana and its legacy, he named it “Itchiku Tsujigahana”.

Tsujigahana is a complex process comprising several steps : first comes the preliminary drawing where the pattern will be stitched on the white fabric, then comes the tying and thirdly, the dyeing of the fabric. The dyeing step has to be perfectly mastered to achieve the desired result – the dyeing will react differently according to the fabric and the colours used. To get a multi-coloured fabric, each tone will have to be applied separately from the others. The result will be a superimposition of one-colour layers with or without overlap. The next steps, unthreading (revealing the design), steaming and fixing the colours and textile are followed by the ultimate one, at where the designer draws patterns on the white-out areas of the fabric in ink.

 

Ouka, one of the first kimono Kubota made using "Itchiku Tsujigahana"

Itchiku Kubota considered each piece as a work that revealed itself during the process of fabricating, as he worked without a preparatory draft. The over-sized format he used for some of his creations, such as the Mount Fuji series, undoubtedly reveal the intention of the craftsman : similar to a canvas, the kimono then becomes a work of art.

Close up of Ouka