ai07

すくもづくり

タデ科の蓼藍を栽培するため、2月の節分の頃に苗代に種をまきます。4月になると移植し、7月に1番刈り、8月に2番刈りをします。

刈りとった葉は1日太陽にあて乾燥させた後、葉と茎に分離します。これらをさらに乾燥させ、すくもにするための葉藍に仕上げます。

藍師とよばれる人たちの伝統的な技術により製造されたものをすくもといい、これが藍染用の染め液の主原料となります。すくもは乾燥した葉藍を堆積し、潅水(かんすい)をしながら、濡れムラなく葉藍を混ぜる「切り返し」と呼ばれる作業を5~7日ごとに行います。

約3ヶ月の間、切り返しを15~20回くり返して自然発酵させていくと、黒褐色の固形物になっていきます。雑菌の少ない、寒の時期の水を使って仕上げを行い、すくも(徳島でつくられたものを特に「阿波藍」と言います)にします。

Sukumo Making

To grow Tade-ai, the indigo seeds are planted in nurseries in late winter. On April, the small plants are transplanted to the fields. Generally, the first crop is on July, and after that, the indigo plants are cropped again on August.

The cropped plants are spread out on an open area under the strong summer sun for one day, and then, the dried plants are separated to the leaves and the stems. The remaining leaves are further dried and fermented later.

Dye producers, called Ai-Shi, use their traditional method of making Sukumo, which is one of the most important materials for Japanese indigo dye. It is made by placing dried indigo leaves in a fermentation bed, spraying with water and mixing them. After 5 to 7 days, this process, called “Kiri-kaeshi,” is repeated.

After about 3 months of repeated the process 15 to 20 times, a solid mass with dark brown color (this solid mass “Sukumo” made in Tokushima is especially called “Awa Ai”) appears as its final step.