Indigo blue, a symbolic color in Japanese craftsmanship, at Espace Densan in Paris

Every year a color is highlighted: for 2020 it is Pantone 19-4052 Classic blue. But long before us, the Japanese were interested in the color blue. It’s for them shades of indigo blue vary depending on the number of colors. There are 48 shades of indigo in Japan.

Exhibition Exhibition “Ao: blue in Japanese handicrafts” it features items made from washi paper, indigo silk fabrics as well as ceramics and prints.

In addition to red, black and white, in Japan the color blue (or Ao) stood for all other colors. During the Nara period (710-794), the Japanese began to use an indigo dyeing technique brought over from China for their clothes. Indigo dye, which was promoted as the main industry by the lord of Tokushima in the period of Azuchi Momoyama (1578-1615). This was also the case in the Edo period (1603-1868), while today the word Ao means blue in general.

Washi paper fan at Espace Densan as part of the exhibition "Ao: blue made in Japan", in February 2020 in Paris.  This indigo paper is representative of naturally colored papers and is among the best papers for arts, crafts and packaging.  (DENSAN)

It was first used for cotton clothing, and later indigo dye was applied to noren (Japanese curtain) or nobori (banner). During the Edo period, laws were imposed that regulated costume according to social status, which further developed the demand for it.

Proven to be an effective insect repellent, indigo-dyed fabrics were used for outdoor workwear; tough and hard to burn, firefighters also valued them for their uniforms.

It has remained one of the main iconic colors for centuries
of Japan, this exhibition is an invitation to immerse yourself in this blue that comes in many forms: porcelain, ceramics, fabrics, washi paper and prints. The craft creations presented here have been selected from across the archipelago by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan) and presented in advance in the gallery “Aoyama Market of Japanese Traditional Crafts” from Tokyo.

According to the Pantone Color Institute, which highlights the colors of the season which, among other things, will be used at fashion shows, Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue andit encourages tranquility, trust and sharing. This timeless shade of blue is elegant, soothing, calming and suitable for meditation, while bringing a sense of peace and tranquility to our mind.

Exhibition “Ao: blue in Japanese handicraft” until March 20, 2020. Dense space. 8 bis rue Villedo. 75001 Paris. From Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm. On February 28th and 29th, there will be conferences, demonstrations and workshops led by a craftsman specializing in indigo dyeing from Japan.

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