Indigo Dyeing , Ai-zome, and Rampuya
Indigo dyeing was born in ancient times and has been existing over the centuries in various regions in the world, such as India, China, and Japan. It was known and traded as well in Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Britain, Peruvian, Persian, and African civilizations.
India is believed to be the oldest center of indigo dyeing in the Old World, that is approximately 6500 years ago.
Supposedly, existing oldest indigo-dyed fabric is the cloth used to wrap Mummy in Egypt about 4000 years ago.
In Japan, we call our indigo dyeing “Ai-zome”(藍染め)“.
It is said that the origin of Ai-zome came from China about 1800 years ago, which is relatively short history in the world of indigo dyeing.
One of the most famous places for Ai-zome in Japan is Awa area in Tokushima prefecture.
Do you know that Ai-zome is not only for Japanese traditional products, but used for modern clothing ? Representative example is Denim Jeans. However, most of them made in bulk and sold cheaply are not real Ai-zome, but dyed chemically.
Rampuya has developed the quality of dyeing with their artifice of Ai-zome, called “Japan Blue“.
It is “Rampuya”(藍布屋) that produces “Momotaro” (桃太郎) Jeans.
Below a picture representing a jeans made out of Pure indigo (chemically) & Natural indigo dyed fabric:
You can notice two hues of blue : the darker is the Pure indigo, the lighter the Natural indigo. The yarns for the latter are dyed by hand as shown in the picture below :
Rampuya is also providing classes to experience Ai-zome dyeing for yourself.
If you have a chance to visit Kurashiki in Okayama, why don’t you find your experience of Ai-zome ?