ABOUT Tokiwakongata resist dyeing
Paper stencil and paste dyeing creates beautiful splashed patterns and tie-dyed designs
The Tokiwakongata resist dyeing, born in the late Edo period, is a technique developed in Sendai. It had been created during the Taisho and early Showa period, and its style creates a dyed pattern using a stencil. Fabrics which were dyed using the Tokiwakongata resist dyeing technique were used to create “Sendai Yukatas (summer time Kimono made out of cotton)” and these products were loved not only in Sendai but also in Hokkaido.
The main characteristic of the Tokiwakongata resist dyeing is the use of “paste” and “stencil.” The origin of the “paste” is from Yokote city, Akita prefecture. As people starved because of Tempo’s famine (1833~1837), the artisans could not use non-glutinous rice or soy bean as paste for their textile printing as it was more important to use as food. Chuzaemon Mogami, who lived in the Yokote area, thereby created a paste made out of white clay instead of non-glutinous rice or soy bean. This clay paste had a strong adhesive quality and its cost to make was reasonable, so its use became widespread among the textile craftsmen. Subsequently, Chuzaemon moved to Sendai and he brought his technique to the region. Tokiwakongata’s stencil is a carved splash pattern or tie-dye design on tanned paper. The original splash pattern was a technique of textile weaving with the thread being partly dyed. Kimonos made out of the textile using this special weaving technique with splash pattern or tie-dye design had become popular as durable every day wear all over Japan in the early Edo period, but the technique was too difficult to be developed in the Tohoku region. Because of this reason, it became difficult for people to obtain splash pattern or tie-dye designed textile. The Tokiwakongata technique allowed the beauty of cloth with the splash pattern to be created without the difficult weaving technique, and this made the mass production of the cloth possible. Tokiwakongata patterns were eventually created that utilized such designs as crosses, lozenge, and even flowers and butterflies.
The production Tokiwakongata resist dyeing decreased after World War II, but such items as the Japanese towel and some accessories still use the cloth. In Sendai, Natoriya stencil workshop continues to produce these kinds of goods.
Recently, the Japanese towel was recognized for its value and this ensures the Tokiwakongata printing style will continue to be used and be useful to people.