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Obi Monzu

How to Prepare for Obi Weaving – Jacquard Loom

We Love Kimono Project #5

Mr. Nagamura of Mamiya sent me photos of my obi design.  At first I was surprised, because the colors were no where close to ones that I have chosen.  What is this?

Only after reading Mr. Nagamura’s explanation was I relieved.  The photos were of “Monzu 紋図” , some kind of coding tool or instruction that the weaver uses.  It tells the weaver which color to use for each weft. 

Mr. Nagamura also sent me a photo of a chain of punch cards.  I had heard that Nishijin implemented Jacquard method from France in the 19th century, but this was my first time actually seeing how the punch cards look like.  Here it is.

Jacquard punch cards

“How many punch cards are needed to make my obi?” was my next question.  The answer from Mr. Nagamura…. 9,200!

During this pandemic, there is no way of visiting the weaver in Kyoto who will make my obi now.  As an alternative, I found this YouTube video introducing different reaving techniques of Nishijin.  Between 3:23 and 4:25 is the handweaving method using the punch cards.  I hope you enjoy watching the video and appreciate the precision of their weaving process.

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