Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
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Channel J – a Japanese Master Textile Artist at Work

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 11:01 pm on Friday, December 30, 2005

Channel J

Kumihimo Braids by Master Yoshio Ohbayashi

Here’s a little treasure I found for those interested in textile arts from all parts of the globe. Channel J is a Japanese Internet Television Channel. I found them when I stumbled upon a website listing online television sources from around the world. Your browser will need to include support for Asian characters to view the site – you’ll be given instructions for how to install that if you don’t have it already.

The link I’ve given for Channel J takes you not to their main page, but to the page for videos about Japanese Culture – particularly the Arts. The very first video I looked at here was the third image down, the one that shows little knots of braided fibers.

Kumihimo is the Japanese art of braiding fibers into cords, tapes, and ribbons, and sometimes into narrow pieces of textile that can be used as cloth. This video, about 20 minutes long, shows a Master of the art at work – Yoshio Ohbayashi.

I was enraptured by the video from the moment it began. The audio is entirely in Japanese unless you use my newly found link below [ed.], but it’s still marvelous to watch his hands as they wind the bobbins with silk and set them up on the marudai. We are then treated to several minutes of hypnotic beauty as he moves the cords symmetrically about the marudai’s round top, picking them up smoothly and laying them down again, then gathering the next group without hesitation and putting them in their proper place.

Our kumihimo master then works on a kakudai, which braids in a similar fashion, but in which the finished cord is tensioned above the loom. From what I could see as he worked, this seemed to create a much tighter weave.

I’ve dabbled a little in kumihimo myself, and created several braids that we use to hang special beads and pendants on. Compared to Master Yoshio Ohbayashi, however, I am a kumihimo tadpole.

My marudai has been gathering dust. Maybe it’s time for me to take it out again, and indulge myself in the trance-like state induced by the movement of my hands with the bobbins.

Edited to add: Duh! I found the link to get the pages in English! http://www.channelj.co.jp/English/ takes you to Channel J’s home page; http://www.channelj.co.jp/English/movies.cgi?big=003&mid=0003&small=00001 will take you to the page with the videos about the craftsmen that I’m directing you to. This gives you the videos with English narration instead of Japanese, too!

Much easier this way! Enjoy!

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