Pongee was first produced here in the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), when sericulture began. By the end of the same era, production had increased to such an extent that silk merchants came to do business from places which had their own flourishing weaving industry such as Kyoto and Joshu, the area that now corresponds to present-day Gunma prefecture.
Ojiya Chijimi techniques were used to produce a pongee suitable for home use woven from silk yarn reeled from leftover cocoons. The existence of this pongee was overshadowed by Ojiya Chijimi but production of a pongee actually started in earnest at the beginning of Showa (1926-1989). The basis for today's pongee was perfected after a number of improvements were made to the pongee yarn.
Because the yarn used for this pongee cloth is reeled from cocoons, the threads have an interesting unevenness and make a light warm cloth. Various folk-craft designs are used and kimono of this colorful cloth provide plenty of opportunity for elegant dressing. The cloth is now also being used for interior items.
For Ojiya Tshumugi, the raw silk is first turned into silk floss before spinning into threads, producing threads that are soft, light and carry a sense of warmth. Due to the many different folk designs used for the fabric, a wide variety of fashions can be enjoyed.
How to make
The raw silk is first taken from the cocoons, and then torn and fluffed to create silk floss. It is then spun into silk floss threads. The fabric design is produced by using a thin wooden spatula called a Kobajougi to apply the dye directly to the individual threads before they are woven. After the threads are dyed, a final earmark line is applied to all the threads. The patterned fabric is produced by lining up all the threads by the earmark line while they are woven.