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[Suminagashi] Beautiful technic passed down for more than 1,000 years

Hi, this is Shohei.

In the last blog, I mentioned that the concept of "Hare and Ke" is this season's theme. This time, we would like to introduce a unique pattern, called Suminagashi that catches your attention in the lookbook. 

Suminagashi

Sumi-nagashi is a traditional Japanese dyeing (transferring) technique in which sumi ink is dropped into water in a tank, and the freely spreading shape is copied onto paper or cloth as it is. Craftsmen have made improvements to this technique, and it has been established as one of the Yuzen techniques.

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The mysterious Suminagashi pattern is both powerful as if time and space are distorted, and gentle like grass, trees, and ripples swaying in the wind.

What is the origin of Sumnagashi and how did it come into being? Let us start with the history.

History of Suminagashi

Origin

There are various theories, but it is said that Suminagashi originated in the Heian period (794-1185), about 1,000 years ago. It is said to be the aristocrats' game of dropping sumi ink on the surface of a river and enjoying the changes in the patterns created by the river's current. More specifically, it is said that the origin of this game was when they happened to drop sumi ink into the river and noticed that the pattern changed with the flow of the river.

This game eventually changed and people began to drop sumi ink into a tub or water tank and copy the patterns on paper for letters and poetries.

The aesthetic sense of Kokufu culture, which is still passed down today, may have been born from the richness of the mind that allows us to discover the casual "beauty" in our daily lives.

So romantic...

Incidentally, a similar technique is called Ebru (marbling) in Turkey. Strictly speaking, it seems to be different from Suminagashi, but it is interesting that there are similar traditional techniques in faraway places.

Let's see the process of Suminagashi.

Process

Fill the tank with water and drip the dye into the water, which has been cleaned of oil and dust.

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The dye containing oil floats on water, and they do not mix with each other.

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The patterns are painted by craftsmen who are well versed in the movement of water and dye, such as blowing wind and moving the surface of the water with sticks.

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Once the pattern has been drawn as imagined, it is time to copy the pattern onto the fabric. The fabric is carefully dipped into the water so that it does not sag.
It is difficult even to draw the pattern on the surface of the water, but there is only one chance to copy the pattern onto the fabric. The nerves are on edge.

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Once the pattern is captured, the fabric is slowly pulled up.

After this, processing is done to fix the pattern to the fabric, and there are still more processes, but these are the rough process of the main part.

Flowing patterns, shades of color. It is a once-in-a-lifetime artwork in which the craftsmanship shines through.

Products with Suminagashi

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This season, we are offering two color schemes: Multi, a modern color scheme using a variety of colors, and Charcoal, a traditional color scheme reminiscent of original Suminagashi, a process using sumi ink.

As you can see from the process, no two patterns are same in sumi-nagashi.

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The photo above shows Sashiko Suminagashi Cropped Blousons in Multi, but the patterns are totally different and the shades are also different. Even if the same craftsman dyed the same fabric on the same day, in the same tank, using the same dye, it would still be this different.

Wearing art created by craftsmen's intricate skills and the power of nature is truly a luxurious pleasure, isn't it?

The ground fabric in the above photo is a Sashiko-ori woven by skilled craftsmen from a long-established workshop that has been in business for more than 150 years. "Traditional craft & Traditional craft", it is the ultimate in luxury.

Currently, only Sashiko Suminagashi Cropped Blouson  is available in the store, but more styles will be coming in soon.

Suminagashi Camp Collar Shirt

Suminagashi Camp Collar Shirt (Available end of Feb.)
Color: Multi, Charcoal

Suminagashi Tee

Suminagashi Tee (Available end of Feb.)
Color: White/Multi, Sax/Multi , White/Gray

Suminagashi Pocket Tee

Suminagashi Pocket Tee (Available end of Feb.)
Color: White, Yellow, Black

Suminagashi applied on Sashiko fabric, shirt fabric and jersey fabric. The coloring varies depending on the fabric, too. It is interesting just to compare them.

In addition to products dyed by artisans one by one, we also offer digitally printed Suminagashi products. We would be happy if more people could experience the beauty and wonder of this traditional technique.

What kind of Suminagashi will you encounter? Please enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime encounter.

The 2nd drop of SS24

Last but not least, the 2nd part of the latest Spring /Summer 2024 collection will be available at noon on this Saturday, February 3 JST. *8pm JST online. 

Hare and Ke

It is still cold, but items many spring-like items will be coming in. Don't miss it!

Thank you!

Suminagashi products

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