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In Japan, the earliest known example of cloth dyed with a shibori technique dates from the 8th century; it is among the goods donated by the Emperor Shōmu to theTōdai-ji in Nara.
Until the 20th century, not many fabrics and dyes were in widespread use in Japan. The main fabrics were silk and hemp, and later cotton. The main dye was indigo and, to a lesser extent, madder and purple root.
There are an infinite number of ways one can bind, stitch, fold, twist, or compress cloth for shibori, and each way results in very different patterns. Each method is used to achieve a certain result, but each method is also used to work in harmony with the type of cloth used. Therefore, the technique used in shibori depends not only on the desired pattern, but the characteristics of the cloth being dyed. Also, different techniques can be used in conjunction with one another to achieve even more elaborate results.