This exhibition celebrates one of the Archive of International Textiles’ major collections – ‘katagami’, Japanese resist dyeing stencils, which form a prominent part of their Japanese Collection. Through drilling, punching and cutting a great variety of detailed and intricate designs were cut into mulberry paper.  These stencils were used for dyeing designs onto clothing ranging from everyday worker’s garments to the finest silk kimonos.

The exhibition introduces the techniques of making and using the katagami, and explores its imagery.  Although produced simply as tools, in recent years, the katagami themselves have come to be appreciated as remarkable and beautiful objects in their own right.

The designs on the stencils amount to more than decoration.  Whether it be evoking a season, carrying wishes for longevity and good fortune or containing an entire folk story, every katagami has a story to tell about the fashion and culture of Japan at the time of its creation and use.

There will be an accompanying publication and series of events associated with this exhibition.


ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles
St.Wilfred’s Chapel
Maurice Keyworth Building
University of Leeds

More information: Katagami – the Craft of the Japanese Stencil