Yuzen Dyeing Technique: Luxury Created with Brush
- Category: Ideas & Inspiration
- Practices: Different practices
Yuzen technique is named after Miyazaki Yuzen Sai (1650-1736), a legendary artisan from Kyoto. To dye fabrics, he used fan dyeing technique. It is possible to create fabrics as graceful, beautiful and rich as ancient embroidered silk fabrics, but less expensive.
Woodblock Print by Tomimaro Higuchi, 1946
The pattern is first completely applied on fabric, and its contours are glued with a special glue-paste (itome-nori). After that, the fabric is washed and impregnated with a special coating for paint to fit better. The borders fixed with glue do not let paints flow and mix. In order to keep some parts of the pattern unpainted, glue is also used. Fabric dyeing is a long and time-consuming process, it involves several experienced artisans.
There are three styles of Yuzen.
Kyo-Yuzen is the oldest, original style, originating from Kyoto. Kyoto fabrics were created for the Imperial court. This is an exquisite, richly decorated ceremonial clothes. Traditionally, the design of the Kyo-Yuzen is characterized by intricate patterns including embroidery with silver and gold foil. A rich palette was used for dyeing, and the creation of Kyo-Yuzen fabric required a lot of time. In terms of other distinctive characteristics, another way to identify Kyo-Yuzen is to look at the colour gradation of flower petals. If they start to darken in the centre and become lighter towards the outside of the petal, there is a good chance that it could be Kyo-Yuzen kimono.
Kaga-Yuzen is a style created and used in Kanazawa city, named after the Kaga clan of Ishikawa prefect. He continued Kaga-Yuzen tradition. Historians believe that Miyazaki Yuzen Sai brought his technique to Kanazawa, but over time Kaga style became different. Leaves and petals of plants are drawn in Mushi-kui style, which translates as "bitten by an insect" — slightly damaged, uneven. It is an artistic decision, reminiscent of the fleeting and short-term world.
One of the main ways to distinguish between the two styles are colour shades and gold leaf and silver use. Kaga-Yuzen hardly uses gold and silver, its design is more restrained and gentle. Tone gradation in Kaga-Yuzen is also opposite, from dark outside to light in the centre.
Edo-Yuzen is the latest Tokyo version of Yuzen style. This a discreet urban style with soft muted tones, often the pattern has urban life scenes in Edo. The period when this style was developing coincided with the law prohibiting to show luxury and wastefulness on people.