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Ramie

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  • Japanese: 苧麻 (karamushi)[1]

Ramie, or hemp cloth, was a widely common fabric used for clothing in pre-modern and early modern Japan, and as a tribute good throughout the region. In Ryûkyû, hemp cloth is known as jôfu (上布).

Hemp was grown and used for clothing at least as early as the 3rd century, as its cultivation is recorded in the Records of Wei.

It was replaced as the most standard fabric in the Edo period by cotton, which was easier to process and to transport. Whereas asa had to be processed within a few days of harvesting the raw materials, and could not be transported well before processing, raw cotton could be transported much more easily, both before processing and at various stages within the process. Cotton was also warmer than ramie.

References

  • Eiko Ikegami, Bonds of Civility, Cambridge University Press (2005), 252-253.
  1. Hemp itself, or its fibers, is known as asa (麻) in Japanese. Karamushi refers to the high-quality textile produced from those fibers.
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