The ABCs of Tenugui Towel : Bleached pure white cotton fabric,called "Sarashi"
This time, We would like to talk about pure white "Sarashi".
Natural cotton is a natural ivory color, and has a pale yellow color when it has not been modified in any way. The raw yarns and fabrics sometimes contain brownish particles such as bits of cotton hulls that cover the cotton plant.
It has a natural texture, but it is not pure white and is difficult to dye as a fabric for dyeing patterns.
This is where "Sarashi" comes in.
The traditional method used a primitive method called "sun bleaching," in which the cloth was boiled in lye and spread out on a riverbank and exposed to the sun. When the cloth dried, it was sprinkled with water and repeatedly dried in the sun. There was also a method of bleaching on snow. The sun's rays bleached the cloth, but this was a very time-consuming and labor-intensive process.
Today, the process removes lipids, impurities, and pigments from the cotton fibers. However, the Sarashi used for Japanese tenugui towel is refined so as not to impair the softness and fluffiness of the fabric.
On the other hand, those that are not bleached are called “Mizarashi（It means unbleached Sarashi）” and retain the original texture of the cotton.
Sarashi is used not only as a fabric for tenugui towel, but also for many other purposes. It is also used as a belly band to pray for easy delivery, as a sarashimaki(This means to roll Sarashi.) for festivals, and as a cooking utensil for steaming food.
At Kamawanu, we dye a variety of designs on plain bleached cloth. White tenugui towels have a refreshing impression, which is different from the gorgeous patterns such as "bokashi（It is meant to be a color-blurred design）" or multi-colored dyeing. Why don't you take a new look at white tenugui towel?