nuno and stitch

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How TENUGUI are made

Nearly all of our TENUGUI are made using the traditional Chusen method. This dyeing method requires a craftsman's skills and special tools.

They always start with a piece of white, 100% cotton cloth, roughly 20 meters long, wrapped on a roller. Using the roller, they measure out each TENUGUI . They put a dye-resistant paste on each section, using a wooden spatula over a mould of the design. On top of this, they make a guard with another special paste around each pattern, to prevent the dye from flowing into other areas. They then pour the dye using special pot called "Yakan" or "Dohin". Once all the colours are poured, the dye-resistant paste is washed off and the cloth is dried. Finally, the cloth is cut into each TENUGUI .

Unlike other printing methods, this Chusen method makes it possible to dye both sides of the cloth, to express subtle gradations in colour and to achieve soft edges of each pattern.  This 20m long cloth makes about 25 tenugui at a time. Usually each process is done by a different craftsman and they make about 3000 TENUGUI a day.

Only about 10 Chusen workshops are left in Japan, but these skilled craftsmen are now trying to pass their traditional method on to younger generations.