Recently, I am really interested in the history of Oshima-tsumugi, and I read a book about it.
Since 1639, Japan had national isolation policy. But after abandonment of this policy, Japan had experienced dramatic change in policy and culture affected by Western countries. I was excited to know craftsmen accepted this change and created new techniques. It is interesting to learn the wisdom and techniques accumulated by predecessors.
I was shocked that one of the book told me Oshima-tsumugi is no more Tsumugi(pongee). The reason is that they did not use tsumugi yarn since Meiji-era.
In Edo-era, days of the Shogunate, they used tsumugi yarn which was made in Amami-O(―)shima and used Izaribata to make Oshima-tsumugi. Oshima-tsumugi was presented to Tokugawa Shogunate.
But, after new government was established in 1867, they did not need to present Oshima-tsumugi to Tokugawa Shogunate. And Oshima-tsumugi becomes popular among people. Oshima-tsumugi’s demand grew rapidly and it was hard to supply all of the demand. So, craftsmen decided to use Takahata instead of Izaribata.
Actually, Takahata is better than Izaribata in terms of productivity, but Takahata puts a heavy strain on tsumugi yarn. So, they had to change form tsumugi yarn to raw silk. However Oshima-tsumugi was already popular among people, so they continue to call Oshima-tsumugi. This change caused the loss of Oshima-tsumugi’s taste, but it created another taste which is very sophisticated and unique all over the world. I will talk you about this story next time.