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Kiryu ori
Kiryu Ori
A Traditional Industrial Artfact

Woven Textiles
Thin fibers spun together form thread. It is then separated into woof (horizontal) and warp (vertical) strands, which when woven together on a loom become fabric. The weaving technique employed to produce Kiryu Ori (Kiryu textiles) has been designated a Traditional Industrial Art.

While textiles are commonly used to make kimonos or western style clothing, they can also be used in a variety of ways for interior decorating.

There are various methods for weaving, however, the basic techniques are plain weave, twill weave, satin weave, and gauze weave.

Plain weave is characteristic of such fabrics as pongee (silk having a knotty textile), crepe, shirt fabrics, handkerchief material, etc. Having the same texture on both sides, this fabric is very strong.

Twill weave fabrics are characteristically used for brocade obi (kimono sashes), gold brocade, cotton denim, wool fabrics, and other close-weave fabrics which are strong but soft.

Satin weave fabrics are characterized by satin and other high luster, glossy textiles.
Gauze weave fabrics are characterized by various types of sheer, light silk gauzes and other various Jacquard weaves and layer-woven textiles.

photoKiryu Industries
Kiryu's fiber industry is a traditional local industry. As a textile producing district, western style production line manufacturing techniques were first established at the close of the Edo Period (mid 19th century). At present, textile production for both domestic and foreign markets continues to prosper.

In addition to textile weaving, other traditional industrial arts in Kiryu include Kiryu washi(traditionally made fiber paper) which was designated a Tradtional Industrial Art by Gunma Prefecture.

Present day machine industry manufacturing in Kiryu consists primarily of the production of automobile parts, electronic equipment, pachinko machines and other allied industries.

Local Character
photoFrom the Edo Period, merchants from Sakai, Kyo, Omi, Nagoya, Edo and other cities came to Kiryu contributing to the development of the city as a textile center. Artisans from Kanto, Tohoku, Koshinetsu, Noto and other districts were attracted to Kiryu by its developing industry, further contributing to the formation of Kiryu's local culture.

At present, the textile industry emphasis is maintained as Kiryu continues to grow as a high-tech /fashion city.

The local character is very much like the splitting of bamboo which leaves no splinters. Kiryu natives tend to be forthcoming and frank. They are very fond of festivals and possess a cheerful disposition.

The enterprising spirit of Kiryu natives, along with their resourcefulness, eagerness to improve, and innovativeness have become the driving force for modernization in the city.

Kiryu Sayaichi Illustration
silk market illustration

It is not known exactly when textiles first began to be produced in Kiryu. However, there is evidence that in the year 714 of the Christian era silk was woven in Kozuke no Kuni (present day Gunma Prefecture) and sent to the Imperial Court.

In the year 905 a silk tax was levied on the area (in most areas the tax took the form of a rice tax instead). It is, therefore, possible to affirm that silk was manufactured locally from antiquity. Between 1384 and 1392 there is mention in various records of locally produced silk, known as Nittayama Silk, which was transported to other parts of the country.

Before this time it is said that the soldiers of the local Lord, Yoshisada Nitta, while carrying banners made from Nittayama Silk, conquered the Kamakura Shogunate in a battle at Ikushina Forest, an event of great significance.

From the end of the Onin War (1467 - 1477) there ensued a time of change during which the silk industry underwent a decline. Around 1600, however, it resurged and when in October of that year Lord Tokugawa stood to fight Lord Ishida at Sekigahara, his soldiers carried silk banners produced in Kiryu into the battle. It is said that on one day some 2,410 silk banners were brought to the grounds of Tenmangu Shrine to be blessed before they were carried into battle.

After this time, during the Kanbun-Enpo Period (1661-1680) many people began to work in factories and came to Kiryu from Kyoto, Osaka, Edo and other distant areas. As a result of the steady growth in the silk industry, the Silk Market was opened in Kiryu in February, 1738. In that same year, mechanized looms began to be employed and new types of textiles were produced.

As for the silk market, it is difficult to express in words the great prosperity it met with. Even today people remember the booming days of Kiryu's silk market.

With continued success year after year, Kiryu began to produce silk of increasingly high quality and the city grew in fame. Given this background, it is not hard to understand why the local people long for the days of the prosperous silk industry and are eager to preserve for posterity the events of those times. The commemorative illustration of the Kiryu Sayaichi (Silk Market) is an attempt to show graphically the circumstances of that period.

The Kiryu Sayaichi Silk Market illustration was painted in Meiji 27 (1894) by Toko Oh-Ide, a Nanga painter from Kiryu, and the essay above which accompanies the painting is by Haruhiko Kojima, the Mayor of Kiryu at the time who was also a poet.

The Process of Manufacturing Kiryu Textiles

photo 1. Making the Thread
The fibers produced by silkworms are referred to as raw thread. The unit measure for determining the thickness of thread is called "denier."
photo 2. Twisting the Silk Yarn
The silk threads are twisted in order to increase their strength. Tightly twisted threads are used to weave silk crepe fabrics.
photo 3. Dyeing
Saw silk thread is refined and then dyed. This process is called "pre-dyeing" or "soak dyeing."
photo 4. Spooling the Thread
Reeled silk thread is spun off into spools. This is the preparatory process for manufacturing warp thread and spooled thread.
photo 5. Setting the Warp Thread
The appropriate number and width of warp threads is decided and arranged according to a prescribed length.
photo 6. Winding Thread onto Bobbins
The woof thread is wound onto bobbins. This is done by hand winding, mechanically winding, or automatic winding procedures.
photo 7. Planning and Design Preparation
In order to weave the fabric, a design is drawn and the color scheme is determined.
photo 8. Graphing the Textile Design
The textile design is traced onto special graph paper. The completed design is referred to as the "design graph" or "star-marked graph."
photo 9. Jacquard Card Preparation
Following the design graph, holes are punched in the appropriate places on the Jacquard loom cards. This becomes the basic control "program" for the operation of the loom.
photo 10. - 11. Jacquard Loom Control Apparatus
As the warp threads are interwoven with the woof threads, the design cards of the Jacquard loom control which warp threads are lifted to create the proper design in the fabric.
photo 12. Weaving the Fabric
The warp threads are alternately lifted and separated in order to allow the woof thread to pass through and return to its original position. The weaving process can be done by hand or on a mechanized loom.
photo 13. Final Processing
After being woven, the material is removed from the loom and well aired.
photo 14. Completing and Inspecting the Fabric
The width and length of the fabric is measured and inspected for flaws or stains. If any are found, the material is repaired.
photo 15. Finished Product / Delivery
The completed textiles are delivered to retailers, department stores, boutiques, etc. for sale.

* Kiryu Ori is a Traditional Industrial Artifact, however, with modernization, it can also be produced using the latest technology. Nevertheless, even now, Kiryu Ori is still being made in the traditional way as shown in the circular photographs.


Seven Technics for Weaving
Kiryu Ori

photo 1. OMESHI ORI (figured silk crepe)
This fabric is characterized by its crepe-like contours. Very tightly twisted thread produced on a "hatcho" thread-plying machine is used to produce the ripple effect in the material. The density of warp yarn is over 100 threads/cm.
photo 2. YOKO NISHIKI ORI (horizontally woven brocade)
This fabric is produced using pre-dyed thread on a Jacquard loom. The design of the fabric is produced by the woof threads using over 8 colors or more. This fabric can also be woven on a hand loom.
photo 3. TATE NISHIKI ORI (vertically woven brocade)
This fabric is produced using pre-dyed thread on a Jacquard loom. The design in the fabric is produced by warp threads of 3 or more colors. More than 2 colors of woof threads can also be alternately interwoven.
photo 4. FUTSU ORI (airy weave)
Woven on a Jacquard loom, both the warp and woof threads of this brocade can be of more than two colors. The density of the warp yarn is over 120 threads/cm. and the density of woof yarn is over 40 threads/cm.
photo 5. UKITATE ORI (raised pattern weave)
This fabric is produced using pre-dyed yarn on a Jacquard loom. The density of warp yarn is over 150 threads/cm. and can be of over 2 colors. The design in the fabric is said to be "ukitate" or raised, or "enuki," as in horizontally drawn.
photo 6. TATEKASURIMON ORI (vertically splash-pattern weave)
This fabric is woven on a Jacquard loomusing pre-dyed hand spun yarn. Special techniques such as paper stenciling, etc. are used to color the threads in order to produce the design in the finished product.
photo 7. MOJIRI ORI
This layeredfabric is woven on a Jacquard loom using pre-dyed yarn. It is sometimes referred to as "waving design." the material is made from a variety of silk gauze and gossamer. The pattern in the weave is only revealed by the juxtaposition of two layers. Frequently used for light summer kimonos.

The Chiami Gaito Ear Ornament

photoPictured here is a large ear ornament unearthed at the Kiryu Chiami Gaito archeological site. Dating from the end of the Jomon Period, this pottery ornament is distinguished by its beautiful triple knot design. It has become a symbol of Kiryu culture and has been designated a Cultural Treasure.

The ornament is represented in fabric as a brocade woven according to the traditional techniques of Kiryu textiles.

Kiryu Ori
A Traditional Industrial Art

photoA traditional industrial art is a technique or method which was in use prior to or during the Edo Period, and which continues to be in use as a technique or method for the production of local craft items.

There are seven methods of producing Kiryu Ori, resulting in a wide variety of textiles. In October, 1977, Kiryu Ori was designated a Traditional Industrial Art by the Minister of International trade and Industry.

At present, under the direction of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Gunma Prefecture and the city of Kiryu, the Kiryu Textile Manufacturers Association, as a focal group, has taken a first step toward seeing to the continued growth of the industry.

Textiles woven in Kiryu according to traditional techniques bear the traditional industrial art symbol. Additionally, technicians of superior talent are awarded the title of "Traditional Industrial Artisan." As part of the process of refining their own skills, these artisans pass on their craft to succeeding generations.

The traditional industrial artisans of Kiryu have formed the Kiryu Traditional Artisans Guild, the purpose of which is to preserve and pass on traditional textile weaving techniques as well as provide a forum for the exchange of ideas among the Guild members.

The Traditional Industrial Artifacts Symbol

photo As traditional industrial arts go through the process of modernization, there is a danger that the traditional techniques will be lost or forgotten.

For this reason, Japan has established criteria for the selection and protection of those industrial arts established long ago for the manufacture of items used in daily life.

Techniques which satisfy these standards are designated "Traditional Industrial Artifacts."

As of September 1989, 171 items from around the country have been so designated. Only those items manufactured according to traditional industrial arts under designation by the country are permitted to bear the Traditional Industrial Artifacts symbol.

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