Momi is a type of cloth made from red silk. Originally the name was used to describe plain fabric dyed with turmeric and then safflower, and it was characteristic for the incredibly vivid colors. Because both turmeric and safflower are medical herbs, it was said that they were good for health and so they were often used to dye women’s undershirts and the lining of their kimonos.
However, there was one drawback – the colors from the dyed momi could easily transfer onto other garments. The colors from the lining would often bleed into the kimono, and the lining could be stained by the colors of the undershirt. Moreover, because it’s difficult and expensive to use natural dyes,
the momi isn’t produced the way it used to be made before.
The momi cloth made today is recreated with chemical dyes. It’s easier on the wearers because they don’t have to worry about the color transferring to their other clothes, but if you compare them, it is slightly different from the originally made cloth.
Although it’s barely made anymore, the original momi is still being sold in some places as a part of old kimonos. If you aren’t careful, its colors will seep into your other garments, so if you see a kimono lining or undershirt with bright colors, ask someone who knows a lot about kimonos to make sure you know what you’re buying.