Kasuri is a often thought of as a cotton or hemp (asa) cloth that was especially popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and which is now associated with traditional rural Japan – particularly those which have white repeat patterns on indigo dyed woven cloth.

The word kasuri is probably derived from the name for thread-resist fabrics from the southern Ryukyuan island of Yeyama - kashiri- it also sounds like the words kasuru which means to blur and kasumi which refers to mist or haze. As kasuri patterns often have a blurred or hazy look these similar sounding words help describe the fabric!

Kasuri technically refers to thread-resist textiles in which warp and/or weft threads are partially tied, bound or compressed before they are dyed so that when they are woven they form a pre-determined pattern in the finished cloth, however, for the Japanese kasuri has a broader definition which includes textiles which are created using the same materials, patterns, colours and techniques.

This is only a brief introduction to kasuri textiles – helped by the information in the book Beyond the Tanabata Bridge: Traditional Japanese Textiles edited by William Rathburn which has a substantial chapter on kasuri.

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