Welcome to the third and last post in this series on aizome (indigo dyeing).
For the first post in this series, on the process of creating the dye, check here.
For the second post in this series, on the aizome museum near my home, check here.
When you first enter the museum Ai No Yakata (藍の館), you have the option of buying something to dye. They have a range of products starting from handkerchiefs at 500 yen to scarves at 3000 yen. After that, you enter the museum and find the building that houses the dyeing facilities. If you’re not sure which building it is, just follow your nose. Aizome dye has a distinct, fermented odor that is very, very, strong.
When you go in, you put on an apron and gloves, choose your design, and away you go!
Textiles that have been dyed with aizome have a lot of characteristics attributed to them. At the moment, I have no idea which ones have been proven scientifically and which ones are just folk knowledge. According to Mark Wisniewski in his book Dyeing To Dance, the benefits of aizome include…
- Aizome can prevent skin irritations, athlete’s foot, and infertility (I’m pretty sure that last one is an old wives tale).
- Aizome can protect against insect infestations and the bite of a mamushi (a poisonous snake).
- Aizome has antiseptic and disinfectant properties that make it good for preventing colds (just the seeds), treating poisoning by blow-fish, or using indigo dyed cloth as a run of the mill bandage. It’s also effective in the treatment of insect bites.
- Aizome can act as a sedative so it is a popular dye for futon and bedding material.
I’d be really intrigued to see how much truth there is in each of these claims.
Don’t sweat the small stuff! But if you’re interested, check out my facebook, twitter, and instagram for the small, spur of the moment ideas, articles, and activities that I find and do related to kimono!