− Ako Dantsu studio −
Ako City is located on the Setouchi Sea coast of western Japan and had once prospered as a center of salt production. Ako Dantsu (meaning "rug") is a handmade cotton rug manufactured in this small seaside town since the Edo period.
Once, there was a woman named Kojima Naka here. She -a wife of an antique art dealer- was fascinated by Chinese carpets she saw in Sanuki on Shikoku island. After spending 26 years researching their production technology, she completed the first Ako Dantsu rug.
There used to be many Ako Dantsu factories in the Meiji period (1868~1912), producing more than 3,000 rugs per year. However, many manufactures went out of business due to cotton import controls during World WarⅡ, leaving only one after the war.
At the beginning of the Heisei period (1989~2019), a workshop was led by Ms. Sakaguchi Kirie, who was the last Ako Dantsu weaver to possess the skill. Her disciples have inherited the technology, and the weaving tradition continues.
Ako Dantsu has features not found in other production areas. With no knowledge of rug weaving, the founder Ms. Kojima Naka, must have gone through an unimaginable process of trial and error to reproduce the beautiful foreign rug. The technology of weaving Ako Dantsu is infused with the enthusiasm and inspiration of the woman who created it.
Although foreign carpets are mainly made of wool, for Ako Dantsu, cotton yarn is used for all its warp, weft, and colored yarns. The Banshu region in which Ako is located was once a major cotton production area. Cotton is the most suitable material for the lifestyle of the Japanese people and the climate of Japan.
Looms with vertical warps are used for weaving carpets such as Persian carpets, but Ako Dantsu is woven using a large horizontal handloom ("takabata"). It is a standard machine used for weaving kimono fabrics, but it is very rare for it to be used for carpet weaving.
The tension and durability unique to Ako Dantsu are achieved by applying glue. Weaving is done while tensioning the dried warps with glue rubbed into them in advance, and wefts are threaded through while not letting the rubbed-in glue go dry. Finally, water is used to dissolve the dried glue; the carpet is put under the sun and shaped using the "Shikinoshi (stretching)" procedure.
Bent shears are handheld tools with an angle at the blades. The "Tsumi (picking)" procedure performed using these shears is the most important feature of Ako Dantsu , producing a smooth and three-dimensional finish. A Dantsu that has been applied, careful "picking" procedures such as thread-picking, base-picking, and finish-picking display the weaver's aesthetics, temperament, and feelings towards her work.
I have worked on hundreds of old Dantsu rugs.
What I can say from having examined the threads of those rugs from more than 100 years ago is that the indigo color becomes more beautiful and intense with time.
At studio Mutsuki, we use indigo and natural dyed yarn to create new Dantsu rugs that can be used and enjoyed as they change over time.
These antique rugs are from the Meiji (1868~1912), Taisho (1912~1926), and early Showa (1926~1989) periods when Ako Dantsu was made in large numbers. By washing, spreading and shaping, stain removing, and picking, which are the techniques unique to Dantsu weavers, I provide care so that old rugs can be used comfortably.
Born in June 1983.
Originally from Kobe, currently in Himeji, Japan.
Graduated from International Christian University, Tokyo (2008).
Discoverd Ako Dantsu after working in apparel and industry promotion.
After studying with Setsuko Negoro, became independent in 2019 and set up studio Mutsuki on the seaside of Ako.
Ikehan / Kusakoji / kogei-Seika / monokoto Denchu / LOG / une
June is the birth month for things.
The land breathes heavily.
Standing under a tree and listening
I hear a faint whisper.
As if cows are eating
And the trees and grass are growing
While making noises.