December 7, 2009
I have a thing for papers. I especially have a thing for traditional Japanese Paper---Chiyogami (千代紙). I'm always very excited when I receive my Chiyogami supplies. I often ask my family or friends to bring me some whenever I have a change. Just by looking at these beautiful papers sooth me and make me very happy.
Chiyogami (千代紙) is brightly patterned Japanese paper — or Washi (和紙, wa meaning Japanese and shi meaning paper) as you might be familiar with— on which all kinds of beautiful flowers, characters or family seals are printed. These intricate designs never seem to lose their magical brilliance and maybe that’s one of their secrets since, until today, people keep being intrigued by them, including me.
It is said that Chiyogami was first produced in Kyoto (京都) around the 17th century. At that time, luxurious paper called Kyo-chiyogami (京千代紙) was used as wrapping paper by the aristocratic class. In those days, Chiyogami was made from high quality paper, a luxury that average folks could never afford. Originally, Kyo-chiyogami was decorated with patterns associated with aristocratic families (有職文様).
By the middle of the Edo Period (江戸時代), painters, carvers, and printers developed the hand-carved wooden block technique of producing Ukiyo-e (浮世絵) prints. As this technique was being developed, it became easy for everyone to get Japanese paper, and eventually the common class was finally able to enjoy it as well.
As Japan rushes with the rest of the world into the 21st Century, and more modern technologies take over, machines produce similar-looking papers which have qualities very different from authentic washi. As of the fall of 2008, there remained fewer than 350 families still engaged in the production of paper by hand.
Other than wrapping paper, Chiyogami can also be used to make little boxes, paper cranes, dolls, bookmarks, and so much more. The possibilities are endless, it’s up to your creativity to make this paper comes to life!
By the way, my friend Maria McElroy, founder of Aroma M perfume, she uses Chiyogami to package her perfumes, it's very pretty and unique, you should check it out.
千代紙の始まりはおよそ1700年頃の京都といわれている。貴族達の贈り物の包装紙として作られた「京千代紙」が最初と言われている。上質な和紙を使って 作られた千代紙は、その頃の庶民にとって到底手の届かない高級品だったようだ。元々京千代紙には、貴族の伝統的な文様（有職文様）が施されていたらしい が、町人文化が盛んになるにつれて、徐々にその文様も京都の伝統・文化にちなんだものが増えた。