Where Beauty Dawns

Ryukyu Bingata

Brief Summary and History

Bingata, one of the most representative traditional dyed products in Japan along with Yuzen and Edo komon, is the only dye technique in Okinawa Prefecture that has been extolled as the epitome of dynastic culture. Made from cotton, silk and basho (wild banana fiber) cloth, production techniques for creating bingata include paper stenciling known as “katazuke” and “tsubuhiki”, in which patterns are printed freehand onto cloth using pressed wax. Bingata is largely divided into two major categories – the eponymous bingata, which features vibrant hues such as red and yellow, and ai-kata, which incorporates shades of indigo.

The exact origins of bingata remain unknown, but it is thought to have been conceptualized spontaneously through the influence of various dyeing techniques and dyed products introduced by, and imported from China, mainland Japan and other regions before the 15th century. Cherished by the noble class of the Ryukyu Kingdom, bingata enjoyed the patronage of royal officials and flourished under their support. With the abolition of the tributary system in 1879 however, the industry lost much of its political favor and entered a long period of decline. After WWII, efforts to revive bingata based on historical archives owned by the founding houses of bingata  (“bingata-sōke”) and records retrieved from outside of Okinawa allowed  “Ryukyu bingata” to be designated as a prefectural traditional craft on June 11th, 1974, and as a nationally designated traditional craft on May 31st, 1984.

Basic data

MaterialSilk woven textiles, hemp woven textiles, bashōfu, cotton woven textiles
Place of manufactureNaha City, Ginowan City, Urasoe City, Itoman City, Tomigusuku City, Nanjo City
Main ProductsKimono, obi, ornamental cloth
Partnership name and date of establishmentRyukyu Bingata Business Cooperative Association, August 27th, 1976
Date designated by nationalMay 31st, 1984
Date designated by prefecture11th June, 1974
Source*Source: "An Outline of Promotion Strategies for the Craft Industry"; official website of Ryukyu Bingata Business Cooperative Association (http://www.ryukyu-bingata.com/bingata/)