Tenugui (Cotton Towels)
With a huge variety of colors and designs, traditional Japanese towels remain extremely popular to this day.
Originally, their use was limited to high-ranking people, but during the Edo period domestic cotton production increased, making them available to the common people, and these towels became an essential part of daily life.
It was also at this time that it became popular to hold competitions to see who could come up with the most imaginative dyed designs on these towels.
This resulted in an explosive increase in the variety of designs, and from the way in which these refined traditional designs were used on towels in everyday life, we can catch a glimpse of the high degree of sophistication that existed in the culture of the time.
These towels are all of a standardized size, 33 cm by 90 cm, and one of their characteristics is the fact that the ends are simply cut, without being hemmed.
Three dyeing techniques can be used.
In the first, called honzome, a single craftsman cuts the stencil and dyes the material, the color penetrating to the reverse side of the cotton.
In the second, called tenassen, the colors are applied by hand, making each stand out clearly.
The third method is simply to print the design by machine.