Posts Tagged ‘mawata’

Today I did a little video of the Yokohama Silk Museum and put it in front of the video from the Koyata sericulture farm. This museum wasn’t an official stop on the tour this time but it will be next time. It’s small but has a good and well ordered display with better than average English signage. Special arrangements were made to bring a small group through here as Jacqueline Fields (author of American Silk 1830-1930) asked to make this a stop and although the museum was closed to install a new show permission was granted and a guide volunteered.
A small group went and I went on my own a few days later.

This is followed by the visit to the sericulture farm. This visit allowed everyone to see the authentic raising of silkworms in a traditional setting. Koyata san graciously allowed us to have a workshop here at his home with the Tama 21 Silk Life group- a group devoted to keeping many of the silk traditions alive in order to bring them forward into future endeavors. These women are highly skilled in sericulture, reeling, spinning, weaving and all sorts of textile traditions. Additionally, we were treated to a wonderful afternoon with even more silk craftsmen and women who shared some of their work with us. It was truly humbling. I mean not only did they make some of the kimono they brought to display, they wove the fabric and dyed them as well. A fantastic display of saganishiki was brought and the maker explained how this was done. Micheal Cook of Wormspit has a nice post on this craft here. ( is there anything Micheal can’t do?)
So, without further ado… the video:

At the farm everyone was able to try their hand at reeling cocoons, spinning raw silk, and making mawata (layered sheets of silk from boiled cocoons). Koyota’s farm produces cocoons for reeling that have not been dried (stifled). They are sent for reeling fresh- just ready to boil immediately before the pupae emerges from the cocoon and spoils the filament. This is somewhat of a rarity as most are stifled so they can be stored. It was said that fresh cocoons produce the finest silk. Another major point of interest at the Koyata farm are the special varieties of silkworms raised here. Many types of cocoons from past eras (like Edo 1603-1867 and Meiji 1868-1912) are no longer commercially available.

In fact, the visit to the Yokohama museum revealed that hybrid varieties became popular in the Taisho period (1913-1926) increasing both quality and quantity of silk production. By 1937 only legally authorized varieties were allowed to be cultivated and most of the others disappeared. Some of the older varieties of silkworms raised here are for the specific purpose and use by craftsmen in the restoration of textiles of those periods for the Shosoin.

edo period cocoons

how many cocoons to make a kimono?

Our visit here really brought history alive for us.

-next blog post will be over on my studio blog and will highlight some of the beauty seen on this trip-including my visit to Sankein in Yokohama where I spent a day haunting my childhood…

the many greens of Sankeien-no wonder i love green

Honestly, I am having some difficulty deciding what to post on this blog. Such an abundance of photos, videos and information.


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