Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Creating Textiles: Makers, Methods, Markets. Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Inc. New York, NY, September 23–26, 1998 (Earleville, MD: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1999).


Copyright © 1998 by the author(s)


Recreating of Ancient Fabrics

The technique of how the Warp-faced compound weave was once woven has been the focus of study for many specialists in Japan. It was around 1921 that Heizo Tatsumura began to recreate ancient textiles from the 7th and 8th centuries, found in the Shosoin Repository and the Horyuji Temple. He used the new Jacquard mechanism, which had been imported from France in 1873 with great dexterity. With this mechanism, along with his gifted creativity and inventiveness Tatsumura produced new techniques for the purpose of recreation. The very modem Tatsumura chose the Jacquard mechanism as his tool but at the same time he believed in the importance of always going back to original ancient textiles and to thoroughly research them. His strong conviction to learn from the past became especially important in order to understand and recreate the weaving techniques of the highly intricate warp-faced compound weave which was born in ancient China and lost around the Tang Period (A.D. 618 - 906).

Tatsumura discovered valuable information through his persistence in investigation and his ability to reconstruct the work on the modem Jacquard mechanism shed light on techniques that had been lost. His thinking process and his deep knowledge of ancient methodology gives us insights into how an ancient weaver might have set up and operated his loom. This paper presents speculations on how the warp-faced compound weave was woven in China earlier than the Han and into the Tang periods by gaining inspirations from the methods invented and recreated by Tatsumura on his Jacquard mechanism to reconstruct the complex weave.