Diligence and Elegance: The Nature of Japanese Textiles

The Textile Museum of Canada

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The beauty of each Japanese artifact is revealed in its shape, texture and colour. It evokes a sudden joy or sadness, a burst of energy or a poetic reflection, and always a profound admiration for the artist’s creativity and skills, expressed in every brush stroke, in every stitch, in every cross section of warp and weft. Diligence and Elegance celebrates the eternal beauty of Japanese textiles and is a tribute to the unknown makers who created them for young and old, for aristocrats and commoners, for daily life and for special occasions. Urban and rural, commercial and domestic, made in different time periods and regions of Japan, they demonstrate how ingenuity and diligence, meticulous training and the scrupulous work of artists and craftspeople have shaped the Japanese aesthetic, both in the past and today.

The exhibition illustrates Japanese textile crafts as highly developed skills that are passed down by individuals from generation to generation. Years of apprenticeship are spent to gain experience in processing plant fibres, silk and cotton, paper and dyestuff; to learn dyeing, weaving and sewing; and to master those sophisticated techniques of textile decoration that make kimono, Buddhist robes and fishermen’s coats masterpieces of creativity and artistry. Respect and appreciation of traditional methods form the foundation of the philosophies and craftsmanship of textile artisans who preserve connections that reach back to their teachers, into a past in which the processes they use were developed by the efforts and experimentations of many generations.