YAME is a rural community about 70km, 40mins ride from Fukuoka city, best known for its award-winning tea. Since the17th century, Yame was a politically important town also rich in argriculture and craft. Blacksmithing, stone masonry, bamboo art, craft lanterns... none less prized than tea. While the few visitors come for tea leaf-picking experience or a taste of the green tea ice-cream, we peer deeper into the craft history.
Taketombo presents the story of a traditional textile call KURUME KASURI.
Mostly known as "ikat" in the western and Asia-Pacific region, the weaving method spread to Japan from South-east Asia some1400 years ago. However, KURUME Kasuri is said to be the only kasuri textile that proudly originates in Japan. It was invented by a 12 year-old girl name Inoue Den over 200 years ago. A white faded spots on her dark pants sparked curiosity and inspiration, thus led to the development of Kurume kasuri.
Kurume kasuri is a textile woven from resist-dyed cotton threads. The intricate pattern cannot be produced without the skillful hands and knowledge of artisans. It takes 30 steps to actually produce the lot. The remaining factories in Yame still diligently follows the traditional process in producing the textile. Though machine looms have replaced hand-looms a hundred years ago, human hands and artisanal experience is still indispensable in the process. Not to mention, the 100-year-old looms are still in operation. The machines probably deserves life-time warranty from its manufacturer Toyota.
kasuri in Japanese means "rubbed".
There are a few theories as to how this textile got its name.
Soetsu Yanagi, the founding father of Mingei craft movement in the 1920s, explained that due to the impossibility to align the tie-resisted threads perfectly to form sharp edges in the pattern, thus the name kasuri represents the natural fuzzy "smudged-looking" beauty of this hand-woven textile.
The Beauty of Kasuri - Soetsu Yanagi, 1959
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