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What is Tenugui?

 Tenugui, is a piece of unbleached cotton cloth measuring about 34cm by 90 cm unhemmed on both ends, dyed by hand. It originated as a cotton towel for ritual cleansing ceremonies in the Edo period, becoming fashionable as small towels for use at bathhouses.  

Over time they evolved into hand towels for every day use displaying special designs and motifs. Worn as head scarfs for farm workers,  wrapping good luck charms for festivals, carrying items in a knotted bundle, or tearing strips off for first aid, the uses were endless. The more detailed and colourful became decorative accessories worn in the costumes of Kaubuki actors.

New dye-ing techniques between 19th- early 20th century encouraged more complex and detailed designs and elevated it’s status beyond the everyday hand towel. These days the more functional Tenugui has been replaced with lightweight absorbent terry cotton cloths for day to day cleaning, but the designed cotton pieces from Nugoo embodies the rich history of Japanese textile design.

This video shows the production process for making Tenugui for Nugoo. 

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