“I have received color without limit from the natural world in the years since I entered the dyer’s way. It has poured down on me endlessly, too much for this meager vessel to hold. Joyful as a child with a new set of paints, I have woven and woven yarn dyed by the grasses and trees.”
A startlingly original creator in the medium of textiles, Living National Treasure Shimura Fukumi is also well known in Japan for her essays on color, nature, and the work of weaving and dyeing. The Music of Color collects some of Shimura’s most insightful writing together with Takao Inoue’s stunning photographs of her art and the natural world that inspires it.
From winter snows to spring blossoms, from the foothills of Japan’s “Southern Alps” to the back streets of Gion, Kyoto, Shimura initiates the reader into a facet of Japanese culture where the boundary between craft and art is blurred. Her insight into the sources and uses of natural color, along with her decades of experience in the world of Japanese textiles, from silkworm and loom to finished kimono, are both on full display in this rich collection. Travels from Basho’s “Deep North” to the western island of Kyushu are recorded, as are valuable accounts of Shimura’s encounters with other figures in Japanese aesthetics such as lacquerware master Kuroda Tatsuaki and poet–critic Ooka Makoto.
Offering new perspectives on contemporary textiles, Japanese folk craft traditions, and thoughts on how Japanese artists engage with the four seasons, the gemlike essays and translucent photographs of The Music of Color will linger with the reader long after the book itself is over.
“We draw the beautiful colors of the sakura not from the petals but the gnarled bark and branches. . . . The blossoms have already bloomed, so no color can come from there. It is the spirit of the tree entire, ceaselessly active, that emerges in the hue of each petal— and do we not see the same truth in the world of words?”