Edo-Komon Textile Dying at the Aida Dye House
Intricate patterns dyed by the Master Craftsman using traditional techniques
Traditional clothes from the Kamakura and Muromachi Periods (1185-1573) dyed evenly with small motifs are called Komon. Using a paper-cut pattern, the intricate design is dyed evenly over one side of a single-color fabric. This effect is only possible thanks to the fine combination of skills of the two craftsmen; one who cuts the paper pattern and one who applies the dye. The Aida Dye House carries on the tradition of Edo-Komon fabric dyeing from its atelier at the foot of Mt. Haruna in the Ashikado suburb of Takasaki. Here, the process of dyeing is done exclusively by hand using a traditional method. “Kata-zuke” is the first step, when the white base fabric is stretched over a wooden board and the paper pattern is spread over it. A dye-proof paste is applied to prevent the dye from taking to the cutout area. Next, “ji-zome” is when the dye in paste form is rubbed into the fabric using a spatula, followed by “mushi” when the fabric is steamed to ensure the dye fixes, and finally “mizu-arai” when the excess dye and paste is washed off to reveal the pattern. The master craftsman Masao Aida is highly respected for his ability to produce the difficult striped pattern of the Edo-Komon technique, especially his fabrics with 31 or 33 stripes within just a 3 centimeter width. Aida is also contributing to the preservation and further development of Edo-Komon through his own “itabikimoku” (wood-grain pattern) and “miyama-some” techniques, while ensuring that his craftsmanship and knowledge are passed on to the next generation.