Washi, Japanese paper is traditionally made of the inner bark of 3 plants, Kozo (paper mulberry) Mitsumata and Gampi. The bark is cleaned, pounded and added to a liquid solution with tororo-aoi (fermented hibiscus root) to produce paste-like mix. The paste is spread onto a bamboo mesh screen to form a paper sheet.
You Tube – Japanese Papermaking, Tosa Washi
In Japan, Washi paper is cut into thin strips, twisted and woven to make a cloth called Shifu. The Washi paper is treated with a starch of Konnyaku (devil’s tongue root), crumpled and cut into thin strips and twisted into yarn. The paper thread is used as weft, and the warp is usually of silk, cotton, or hemp. The resulting paper fabric becomes more pliable with use and is also strong enough to withstand washing.
Saganishiki (Saga brocade) is another type of Japanese paper cloth. The Washi paper is the warp. It is cut into thin strips and the weft yarn (silk, cotton or hemp) is woven in a twill pattern. Often the paper is decorated with gold dust or gold leaf designs.
Saga Nishiki History
Tradition says that at the end of the Edo Era, Princess Kashioka thought of the idea of Saga Nishiki as she was ill and admiring the design of the ceiling patterns. She ordered her attendant to create some other uses for this type of weaving. The weaving was done by the ladies of the castle. The art was later revived by a politician, Shigenobu Okuma and exhibited at an Exposition in London in 1910.
Saga Nishiki Process
The making Saga Nishiki is explained, with pictures of the weaving process.