[Japan: mid-Edo]. This handsome scroll depicts in great detail two Japanese hand looms used to create complex patterns of silk brocade and birodo (velvet). The greatly enlarged illustrations are inspired by images in the first volume of Akisato's Miyako meisho zue (1786), a famous guide to Kyoto. Nishijin, a district of Kyoto, was famous for its traditional textile production, employing highly specialized weaving techniques to obtain spectacular designs and effects. As we unroll the scroll, the first loom we encounter is the sorahikibata, an overhead draw loom, which was used to produced high-quality silks with complicated designs. This loom, invented in China in the 6th or 7th centuries (or before), required two operators, pictured here: the weaver and an assistant who manages the figure harness. The weaver is employing several heddles, which are controlled by his feet. A third person is also shown, inspecting the threads. The Chinese-invented draw loom, modified by the Japanese, enhanced and streamlined the production of new designs that employed the use of gold brocade. In this image, one sees the various threads being controlled and the creation of the finished fabric. The second image depicts a loom to create mon'yo birodo (Japanese textured velvet), which had been introduced to Japan by the Portuguese. We see the weaver operating the loom by hand and foot, as he produces the velvet woven with delicate patterns. A man is nearby, inspecting a wire that was used to hold up the pile warp. The scroll is a little wrinkled, with minor marginal worming. The detailed images are bright and clear. (Inventory #: 6564)
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