Antique black and deep olive mawata tsumugi silk sayagata kimono
A beautiful, heavy and very classy antique kimono made of wonderfully textural mawata (hand woven) tsumugi silk. The black ground has a woven deep olive green sayagata pattern that is very subdued yet stands out well. It’s lined in off white and burgundy fabric. There are some extremely faint starch spots on the lining but the overall condition is excellent.
This is in excellent condition for it’s age and measures 163 cm long, is 64 cm from the centre seam to the sleeve edge, and the sleeve drop is 49 cm.
Tsumugi silk is one of my favourite types of silk.
• Sayagata: the manji is often found as part of a repeating pattern. One common pattern, called sayagata in Japanese, is made of of interlocking manji, left- and right-facing manji joined by lines. As the negative space between the lines has a distinctive shape, the sayagata pattern is sometimes called the “key fret” motif in English.
• Tsumugi: A silk textile woven with hand-spun threads from wild silk cocoon fibres. It doesn’t have a glossy or smooth texture, but a tasteful rough texture. Very time consuming to produce, as the silk fibre has to be joined repeatedly, due to the hole in the cocoon where the silk moth exited, so a very expensive silk. (Also see hige-tsumugi)
Tsumugi was originally spun, woven, and sewn into a kimono by one person for the use of her household, so there are many distinct regional variations. However, all tsumugi can be readily identified by its characteristic slubs and sheen. The slubs (rough lines in the weaving) are created by spinning the silk. Initially tsumugi fabric is very stiff, due to the starch applied during spinning, but the more times it is worn and washed, the softer it becomes. Very old tsumugi is as soft as silk fabric woven from untwisted threads.
Broken threads left inside the silk cocoon are collected by the farmer. These are degummed in a hot water bath with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sulfurous acid (a mild bleach). After rinsing, they are hung to dry out of direct sunlight. After drying, the silk floss is placed in a bath of ground sesame seeds and water. The oil from the sesame seeds makes it easier to draw individual threads to be spun.
The floss is handspun (mawata). The spinner uses saliva to adhere the new threads to the old ones. This produces the characteristic sheen and stiffness of tsumugi. After spinning, the thread is dyed and then woven into tsumugi. The most popular patterns include shima, ichimatsu, and kasuri. After weaving, the fabric is steamed to set the dyes and then made into kimono.