Madame Manga (madame_manga) wrote in little_details,
Madame Manga

Hemp clothing

Textile experts? Hemp clothing owners? I'm looking for information about hemp fabric used for clothing, specifically in Edo period Japan, but obviously I can extrapolate from more modern textiles.

I've fingered hemp clothing at street fairs a few times but never owned any. What's it like to wear? Much different from linen of the same weight? Does it wrinkle like linen? Does it absorb moisture quickly, such as when the wearer sweats or goes out in the rain? When it's damp or wet, how does its texture change? How quickly does it dry? Anything you've observed with your own hemp clothing would be useful, though I think that the garment concerned in the story (a man's kimono) would logically be a medium weight and a reasonably smooth weave, and probably lined rather than single-layer, as it's being worn on its own.

I've been googling hemp fabric/textiles, hemp fiber characteristics, Japanese hemp fabric. I get a lot of pro-hemp sites that claim it's the ultimate fiber for every use, which tends to downplay any disadvantages it may have as clothing. :) Obviously there's a political dimension to take with a grain of salt!

Most general sources on traditional Japanese clothing and textiles seem to concentrate on silk and cotton and give hemp only a quick mention. I'm also running across a contradiction: some of the sources I've found claim that in the feudal era hemp was just cheap, coarse home-grown stuff for peasants and that cotton was more expensive and exotic, others claim hemp was more expensive than cotton because of the labor involved in extracting the fiber. Possibly they're simply confusing different grades of textiles, but I'm not sure. Can you clear that up for me, or can you point me to particular books or other sources?

Thank you for any information you can give me!
Tags: japan: history, ~clothing

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