Saturday, August 9, 2014

Shibori Nagajuban

Today I'm having a display to coincide with the handmade market in the hall next door. I have a small collection of shibori-dyed nagajuban  undergarments.  These are the traditional equivalent of a petticoat. The collar is usually a plain white cotton which allows a han-eri collar to be tacked on, which is then visible at the neckline of the kimono. These  are all nagajuban from the early-mid 20th century.

. Shibori literally means' to squeeze'  and includes a wide variety of resist techniques involving tying, stitching, folding,  wrapping or clamping the fabric before it is dyed. It has traditionally been used on a range of textiles from fine silk kimono through to the simple home-dyed cotton nappies that I showed here a couple of weeks ago.

  There was a tradition in Japan of wearing very rich and often colourful linings and undergarments. This developed largely in the Edo period (1600-1868) when there was a series of sumptuary laws which attempted to control what fabrics, colours and designs different classes of people could wear. The growing merchant class  has the money but not the official status to wear rich, silk fabrics and so these would be worn on the inside or under their kimono where they couldn't be seen...except by those who knew them well.  The nagajuban here are example of  the continuing influence of this tradition in the early -mid 20th century. Sadly the tradition died out in the post war years and  nagajuban now tend to be bland white and pastels.

 The sleeves and lower half of the next one are wool 'mosu' (Japanese muslin) printed to look like stitched shibori. The upper half is actual shibori on a cheap cotton. 

The next one  has been made from fabric oddments. The sleeves are kimono silk the bottom half is a wool or wool blend nagajuban fabric and the upper half ia shibori dyed cotton and probably quite a bit older than the other pieces

 This patchwork nagajuban has been pieced from remnants of kanoko silk shibori, most of these have been hairbands used in traditional Japanese hairstyles.


  1. Hi Jan, What wonderful garments. The colours are combined so artfully . I had not known of Nagajuban. Thank you for your information , as always, so interesting. Can I ask about kanoko? another word I don't know. I especially like the oddment one ,7th down I think, the pinks, so glorious in this combination. They are all amazing, though.

  2. I love them all Jan. Thanks for sharing them and the information about them - Hugs Nat

  3. Thanks for your comments. Claudia, kanoko is a general term for the small dot shibori that we commonly get on silk kimono and haori from Kyoto. There are a number of more specific techniques within that category. I'm afraid I'm not very knowledgeable about shibori techniques - but I appreciate the amazing effects they can achieve. I'll try and most more in future.