Have you ever seen Japanese traditional ribbons before? These are called “mizuhiki” in Japanese. It is a form of art which uses special cords which are twisted to form various kinds of objects and shapes. These are commonly used for decorating celebratory gift envelopes. Let’s find out how it has been shaped over the years.
There are several versions of how mizuhiki was introduced in Japan. One of these versions states that it started during the Muromachi era when imported packages which arrived in Japan from the Ming Dynasty were all tied up in color codes of white and red. The Japanese followed the same style by tying up all packages with the same color code as a sign of being respectful without even knowing the real meaning. It was actually just a code used to differentiate the imports from the export products. Since then, the tradition of tying with cords started.
Mizuhiki doesn’t really hold the same special meaning that it did a long time ago, but there are still some who use it in ceremonial gift-giving. The cord is actually created from washi (Japanese traditional paper). It is tightly wound and starched in order to give it its stiff texture. Not only are they made in the usual red and white, but they can be painted with varying colors. There are also many figures which can be created with the cords including dragons, fish, cranes and many other animals. Others simply use it to decorate envelopes the way ribbons are used.
If you’re on the lookout for original mizuhiki designs, one graphic artist from Tokyo is actually making some of them. Her name is Hiromi Nagasawa and she has a store located in Fukuoka Prefecture where she sells some of her mizuhiki works. Many of these have caught people’s attention due to their intricate designs and beautiful styles.
Does your country use mizuhiki or have you seen it in Japan? What are your thoughts?