12 Traditional Okinawa Textiles! Minsa, Bashofu, Hanaori and more
Okinawa is Filled with Beautiful Textiles!
Okinawa textile is developed by tropical nature and thoughts of people.
Elegant Hanaori was for costumes of loyal family or civil servants.
Cool textile was for summer clothes.
Various Okinawa fabrics have been popular gifts, souvenirs, and at workshop.
Mecca of textile! Okinawa
Do you know how many textiles are in Okinawa?
Okinawa prefecture has 15 traditional crafts. Among them, 12 crafts are textiles! Each producing area has different skills and features. Okinawa textiles have developed as trading items with other countries or offering for Ryukyu kingdom.
Here, let us introduce Okinawa textiles.
Filled with fascination! 12 Okinawa textiles
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Miyako Jofu is textile produced in Miyako island of Okinawa prefecture.
It is made of linen called “Choma (Boehmeria nipononivea).” Miyako Jofu is characterized by fine splashed patterns and smooth gloss like it is waxed. Since it is weaved from fine threads, a roll is only 250g and it has easily permeated. It is valuated as “East Echigo and West Miyako.”
From 1978, it is designated as an important intangible cultural asset as a highest quality of indigo-dyeing linen textile.
Kumejima Tsumugi is textile produced in Kumejima town of Okinawa prefecture.
Its attractive point is simple and smooth texture. It is made of spun silk thread or just pulled silk thread. Kumejima Tsumugi is dyed with vegetable-dye or mud-dye. Every time you wash it, strong taste of dye will be removed, and the textile becomes clearer color.
A weaver takes charge of all procedures from design, cropping vegetable dye, dyeing of threads, and weaving. Kumejima Tsumugi is designated as an important intangible cultural asset in 2004.
Yaeyama Minsa is textile produced in Ishigaki city or Taketomi town of Okinawa prefecture.
“Minsa” derived from “Min (cotton)” + “Sa (narrow).” It means narrow obi (sash for kimono).
Yaeyama Minsa is characterized by splashed patterns consists of 5 squares or 4 squares. This pattern has romantic meaning, “Wish we are harmonious for every world or era.” In Japanese, 5 is “go” or “itsutsu”, 4 is “yon” or “yo”. “For every world or era” can be translated as “Itsu no Yo mo.” 5 symbolize “Itsu” and 4 symbolize “Yo.” In fact, women wove and sent Minsa textile to their steadies.
We can see this pattern on roads or houses in Ishigaki island.
Bashofu in Kijoka
Bashofu in Kijoka is textile produced in Kijoka in Ogimi village of Okinawa prefecture.
From a big plant called “Basho,” people remove fibers and make textile. Well-permeated and smooth texture is loved by Okinawan people.
It takes 3 years to cultivate and crop Basho, 3 months to make thread and weave a roll of Bashofu. 60 Basho woods are needed. All these processes are done by handwork. So, Bashofu in Kijoka is called rare textile.
Ryukyu Kasuri is textile produced in Naha city, Yaese town or Haebaru town in Okinawa prefecture.
Ryukyu Kasuri is said to be the origin of Kasuri in Japan. it is characterized by various patterns derived from nature, animal or life in Okinawa.
Unique geometric patterns evolve with new aesthetic sense from traditional patterns in “Miezu cho.” Miezu cho is a book of patterns for Ryukyu Kasuri used in Ryukyu Kingdom.
It is made of mainly silk thread. For dye, vegetable or chemical dye are used.
Shuriori is textile produced in Naha city, Nishihara town, or Haebaru town of Okinawa prefecture.
Mainly, there are 2 types of textile, Kasuri and Mon. Names of textiles are Hanaori, Hanakuraori, Routonori, Kasuri, and Minsa. Among them, Hanakuraori and Routonori are high class textile that used to be exclusive textile for loyal family and nobles.
It is made of silk, cotton, linen and Basho, dyed with Ryuku Ai, Fukugi tree, Shibuki, Tekachi (autumn olive), and Ku-ru.
Yaeyama Jofu is textile produced in Ishigaki city, or Taketomi town of Okinawa prefecture.
It is made of Choma, dyed with Ku-ru or Fukugi tree. It is characterized by beautiful brown patterns. Well-permeated and refreshing Yaeyama Jofu has been used as kimono in summer. After 17th century, Miyako and Yaeyama Jofu was offered for Satsuma (Now Kagoshima prefecture) from Ryukyu kingdom. Those Jofu were well known as “Satsuma Jofu” in that era.
Yomitanzan Hanaori is textile produced in Yomitan village of Okinawa prefecture.
In Hanaori, weaver express geometric pattern like flowers with yarn-dyed threads. Traditional Yomitanzan Hanaori has red, yellow, or white flower patterns are expressed on navy cloth dyed with Ryukyu Ai. Those patterns are wish for wealth, prosperity or posterity, or longevity.
Since Yomitanzan Hanaori is a rare textile with a lot of time and work, only loyal family and residents of Yomitan village can wear Yomitanzan Hanaori in Ryukyu Kingdom era.
Chibana Hanaori is textile produced in Chibana of Okinawa city.
It is characterized by continuous geometric pattern like flowers on navy textile. There are 2 skills called “Tate Uki Hanaori” which means patterns looks floating vertically and “Nuitori Hanaori” which means patterns look floating like embroidery.
Chibana Hanaori has been loved as textile for festivals, events, or auspicious scene.
It is mainly made of cotton, but also of silk or wool.
Haebaru Hanaori is textile produced in Haebaru town of Okinawa prefecture.
It is characterized by three-dimensional geometric pattern like embroidery. It developed as clothes for celebration in the era of Ryukyu kingdom. There are various unique patterns and names of textile for Haebaru textile. It is dyed with Ryukyu Ai or Fukugi tree.
Yonaguniori is a generic name for 4 kinds of textile produced in Yonaguni town of Okinawa. 4 textiles are plain fabrics “Dutati”, narrow sash “Gagan-Nubu”, figured textile “Hanaori” and “Shidati.”
Yonaguni town is the westernmost island of Japan, “Yonaguni island.” Its unique climate and handwork bring simple beauty. Representative pattern is linear geometric pattern composed of stripes and small flowers.
Yomitanzan Minsa is textile produced in the area around Yomitanzan village of Okinawa.
Even in “Minsa,” there are difference in skills and patterns depend on regions. In Yomitanzan Minsa, weaver picks up warp where she wants to appear pattern with bamboo stick. This unique skill is called “Gu-Shibana.” It is also called “Gu-Shi Hanaori” since it expresses three-dimensional pattern. Brilliant coloring attracts people.
Okinawa textile for modern life
Okinawa fabrics are still used for kimono or obi today.
If you would like to feel unique texture of traditional textile, we recommend kimono for you. In addition, there are various items which are easier to be used for us now.
Bags, ties, stoles, pouches, or place mats are produced with Okinawa fabric today. They are popular souvenir of Okinawa as well. In addition, many workshops of handmade coaster or porches are held. It would be great memory of Okinawa.
Dyed goods, textile, and more! Okinawa is mecca of fabrics.
Please feel breath of handed down skills and life of people from Okinawa textile.