Diligence & Elegance: My trip to the Textile Museum

A few weeks ago I visited the Textile Museum in Toronto to see an exhibition on Japanese textiles. The exhibition featured mostly kimonos demonstrating different embellishing, dyeing and weaving techniques.

As we entered the exhibition we were greeted by several breathtakingly luxurious kimonos with lavish designs, hand painted flowers, some accents embroidered with gold. These were formal kimonos, used for special occasions like weddings. The brightly coloured fabrics were decorated with chrysanthemums, pine branches, citrus flowers, cranes, paulownia and plum blossoms.

In a different room there were several examples of indigo bed spreads and fishermen's kimonos. Indigo dyeing has a long history in Japan. Before the introduction of Japanese indigo they rubbed the leaves of a perennial plant known as Mercurialis leiocarpa on the fabric to achieve the blue colour. The more known process of fermenting the indigo plants made the dying process easier and more accessible. Indigo dying makes the fabric stronger, therefore, the beautifully colored fabrics were used for work wear, and became associated with hard labour.

The exhibition is on till January 21st, so if you haven't seen it, it's well worth the trip!


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