Sarasa—The Gujarati kalamkari cloth that became a rage in Japan thanks to Dutch traders – ThePrint

This article first appeared in ThePrint on September 11, 2022

Chintz cloth produced for the Japanese market, sarasa cloth was used to make obi (waistband) and kosode (robe) linings during the Edo period (1615–1868) in Japan. The name may have derived from the Japanese word for chintz, or the Gujarati saras, meaning “beautiful.” The cloth is believed to have been introduced to Japan as a trade textile by the Dutch during the Muromachi period (1336–1573). In 1606, a trading post was set up in Petapoli, southwest of Machilipatnam, following which sarasa cloth began to be exported to Thailand, Indonesia and Japan.

Sarasa cotton is dyed with five colours — dark red, indigo, green, yellow and brown — derived from natural and mineral sources. The processes used to dye the cloth include mordant painting and wax resist-dyeing, as well as hand- and block-printing using the kalamkari technique.

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