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Watch How Japanese Hikihaku Obis are Woven from Precious Metals, Mother of Pearl and Lapis Lazuli

Japanese traditional wear includes the obi, the sash or belt worn around the waist. The obi can be made from a variety of different materials depending on the occasion. The hikihaku is a kind of obi reserved for very special occasions because these ceremonial sashes are woven from precious metals and even mother of pearl shell and lapis lazuli! Such sashes are quite stiff to wear but oh, the luxury!

Watch this amazing Victoria and Albert Museum video which shows how Japanese artisans prepare the threads and weave the threads into beautiful fabrics. 

Metal foil or gemstone sheets have to adhered onto a suitable backing material like washi paper before being hand cut into fine threads. How fine? According to this Japanese site, about 100 threads per 3.8 cm. The threads are woven weft-wise. 

The craftsmanship and skill level boggles the mind.  

Alas, this is a dying art - all the artisans featured are over 70 with no young person to replace them. There is only one person left able to maintain some of the specialized looms and no one for the remaining ones.

Before You Go:

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM 


  1. So incredibly beautiful and also so incredibly sad.
    I admire the Japanese for their adherence to and respect of tradition. To see designs that are based on something from 400 years ago is actually mind blowing. They respect the past and their elders.

    I hope they find some young people to take up the art.

  2. It's hard to believe what you see, amazing artistry and craftsmanship! Such a shame it's disappearing but on a positive note, at least there are records and visuals of how it's done.

    1. Yes, a shame but thanks to technology - ie Youtube etc, we do have records!


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