The History of the Ancient Art of Shibori

The Japanese verb shiboru means to wring, squeeze and press. Can you imagine the awe and exhilaration when the first person tied and stitched fabric, dipped it into indigo and saw the results?  It must have felt like magic. It’s the same way I feel every time I dye!

African Shibori

We most often associate the art of Shibori with Japan, but it actually originated in fifth-century China. Other early examples occurred in sixth-century Peru, but It is Japan, India, Indonesia and Africa where the tradition of Shibori survives and thrives.

Early Japanese Shibori creation

Shibori was originally a 17th – 19th century art practiced by the “lower” classes to enhance their clothing since they could not wear silk as the ”elite” classes did. The Shibori methods we use today date back to and are very similar to the traditional methods used during that time.

Indonesian Shibori

Eventually, Shibori was also introduced to other regions of the world. It is still practiced in western Africa, southern China and western India. Although best known for the art of Batik, Indonesia has seen a recent revival of Shibori where it is also known as Jumputan.

Indian Shibori

In India, Shibori is known as Bandhani from the Sanskrit word banda which means "to tie". While the technique of tying is similar to Japanese Shibori, Bandhani dyeing is done in every color with red, yellow, blue, green and black being the most popular.

African Shibori created by Gasali Adeyemo

In Africa, there are regions, tribes and kingdoms who have practiced “shape-resist” dyeing for hundreds of years. Different tools and types of resist are used with natural materials including Indigo.

With Gasali Adeyemo

I find all of the history and traditions of Shibori Indigo dyeing fascinating and I have been privileged to study with master teachers from several countries. One of my favorite learning experiences was with Gasali Adeyemo of Nigeria. It was an amazing time of exploration and connection to a different practice of this wonderful art. One that I will never forget!

Shibori Classes - the ancient art that connects us

Are you ready to learn the ancient art of Shibori? Please join me in a class! I'll teach you the traditional art of Shibori as we journey together through the amazing world of natural Indigo. My classes are open to all levels of dyers - there's always more to learn! 

Click here, choose a place and date and I'll see you in class soon!


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