Traditional Okinawa Jewelry, Ring and Hair Stick of Goldwork
Traditional Goldwork Okinawa Jewelry as Amulet
When you visit Okinawa, do not miss unique jewelry of Okinawa.
Do you know traditional goldwork in Okinawa?
Here, we introduce beautiful goldwork jewelry
which make us feel gorgeous Ryukyu Kingdom.
What is goldwork in Okinawa?
In Okinawa, goldwork is called “Kuganizeku” or “Kanzeku.”
It is a traditional Okinawa jewelry from Ryukyu Kingdom era. Craftsmen pound pure silver and produce beautiful Okinawa Jewelry. Now, it is loved by people in and out of Okinawa.
Miracle crafts from 500 years ago
Goldwork of Okinawa started about 500 years ago.
In 1509, craftsmen under government orders visited China and learned skills of goldwork. Craftsmen were accorded a rank of “筑登之親雲上 (Chiku Dun Pechin)” as purveyor to the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Many goldwork craftsmen built their studios near Shureimon. In Okinawa, “Kuganizeku” means all metals. So, they produced various metal works except for irons.
Goldwork and Okinawa jewelry has long history. However, due to end of Ryukyu Kingdom and WWⅡ, many tools and skills of goldwork were lost.
Nevertheless, a few goldwork craftsmen continued inquiring and finally revived Okinawa goldwork jewelry. Now, a few craftsmen keep traditional skill and tools.
What kind of goldworks are there?
In Okinawa goldwork jewelry, there are 3 main items, “Fusa ring”. “Jee Hua” and “Musubi ring.” Among these 3, “Fusa ring” is especially famous. When a singer Namie Amuro won Okinawa Honor Award, she received “Fusa ring” and “Jee Hua (ornamental hairpin)” by “Goldwork Matayoshi.”
Okinawa goldwork jewelry
Fusa ring is a silver ring with 7 lucky motifs.
When a daughter gets married, her parents send Fusa ring to her with “wish our daughter be happy for a lifetime and the future life.” Each motif has auspicious meaning.
Meanings of 7 motifs
- ・ Fun…Increasing prosperity as time goes on
- ・ Flower…Live gorgeously like flowers
- ・ Fish…Blessed with food
- ・ Leaf…Blessed with clothes
- ・ Pomegranate / Votive light…Family love and ancestor worship, may the road she walks will be bathed brightly
- ・ Peach…Perpetual young and longevity, may she will live long healthily
- ・ Butterfly…Messenger of heaven, may she be also happy in future life
Jee Hua is Okinawan traditional hair stick.
In Ryukyu kingdom, materials for Jee Hua differ by their status. Royal family used gold, family of samurai used silver. Commoners and farmers used brass, wood, or tortoiseshell. Today, Jee Hua is made of silver.
It is said that Jee Hua expresses standing pose of women. So, people always wore Jee Hua as second half of women. You can feel beauty of delicate curvy line and gentle shine of silver from a Jee Hua.
Musubi ring is a ring made of 2 tied silver ropes.
Once, harlots in Okinawa wore Musubi ring with wish that “I and my lover will be tied forever.”
Knot of ring expresses meeting or bond of man and woman. Okinawan people have loved this Musubi ring as an auspicious thing to tie “hearts”, “fate”, or “fortune.” Now, Musubi ring is as popular as Fusa ring.
What studio produces Okinawa goldwork jewelry?
“Goldwork Matayoshi” keeps tradition of Okinawa goldwork jewelry. 7th goldwork craftsman Kenjiro Matayoshi has the studio.
The first craftsman learned goldwork in China under government orders. He got skill of goldwork and called “Tochi Matayoshi (Matayoshi who went China.)”
Okinawa goldwork jewelry was once almost came to an end by end of Ryukyu Kingdom and war. Although, a meeting with potter and goldwork craftsman triggered revival of traditional Okinawa goldwork jewelry. A potter Shoji Hamada who was active in the Folk-arts Movement gave old Fusa ring to the 6th goldwork craftsman Seiboku Matayoshi. Then, the 6th Matayoshi started to revive traditional Okinawa goldwork.
Revived skills and tools of goldwork was handed over to the 7th Kenjiro Matayoshi, and the next craftsman.
Okinawa goldwork jewelries are popular gifts
Traditional Okinawa goldwork jewelries are popular gifts for one’s important person. Fusa ring was once a gift from parent to their daughter. Now, many men get Fusa ring as engage ring. Also, it is a beautiful birthday gift.
Auspicious goldwork jewelry can tell your wish for happiness of your dearest person. How about finding a special Okinawa jewelry for souvenir or gifts?