Welcome to the world of chigiri-e!

Chigirie Pansies

Chigiri-e is a traditional Japanese art that uses handmade and hand-dyed rice paper called washi to create beautiful images. 

Chigiru in Japanese means to tear and  “e” pronounced like the “e” in egg means image.  Therefore, Chigiri-e is an image that is created through the act of tearing.    Using this technique, the images created are similar to a collage.  What is unique about chigiri-e, is the use of washi’s natural properties.  The paper is stretched, twisted, torn, and manipulated with bare hands to form organic shapes that emphasize the energy of the paper. 

Washi itself has it’s own unique characteristics, producing a variety of organic expressions.  The washi paper comes in various thicknesses, that influence the dimension of the art piece.  Another variable is the fiber itself.  The different lengths and colors of the fibers affects the texture and beauty of the paper.

The dyeing process is also interesting in its own right.   In Japanese, some, is the dyeing process.  Here are three types of dyeing processes used:

  • Ori zome: is from the word oru, meaning to fold, such as in origami – ori, means fold, gami comes from kami which means paper..  This is fold- dying.  The paper is folded into rectilinear shapes then dyed to create lovely repetitive patterns.
  • Momi zomeMomi means to crumple or knead.  This is crumpled dying.  Instead of a neat pattern, it creates random creases.
  • Shibori zomeShiboru means to squeeze, therefore, this is tie dying.  The patterns are similar to Western tie dying, creating circular shapes.


The many different expressions of chigiri-e are possible through the techniques of using washi.  It’s character can be changed through twisting, stretching, folding, flattening, crumpling, pushing, pressing, pulling, rolling, and overlapping.  One can also create something to look furry, soft, or smooth by the artful control of the fine fibers.

The subjects most often found in chigiri-e are flowers.  Recently, with the influence of modern art, the subjects are of a wider range, not only images particular to Japan.  In spite of this change, the Japanese flavor still is apparent in all chigiri-e.