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Story of Ryukyu Bingata

About Ryukyu Bingata

Ryukyu Bingata is the most representative traditional dye of Okinawa. The rich nature and characteristics are expressed with vivid colors and patterns.

It was dyed as Ryukyuan costumes before World War II, and after World War II, it was widely used as Japanese clothing.

The origin of Ryukyu Bingata can be traced back to around the 15th century.

It is said that Ryukyu Bingata was created based on dyeing techniques from China, India, and Javanese chintz. (Various theories exist.) It was around the early Showa period that the Chinese characters for "Bingata" began to be widely used. Until then, it was written in hiragana and called "Katachiki.

What does "Bin" in Bingata mean? There are several theories, including that the word "Bingata" is a corruption of the Indian word "Bengala," that "Bin" means color, and that the pattern was learned in a region called "Bin" that existed in China in the past.

Then there are the families that have passed down Bingata from generation to generation since ancient times.
First, there is the "Tukushi family," which is said to have created the foundation of Ryukyu Bingata. It was located in the village under Shuri Castle in the old days and is considered the oldest family line. It is said that until around the time of the Sino-Japanese War, the family was engaged in Bingata and Aigata (Indigo) work.

The Chinen family appeared around the 16th century. The Chinen family went to China (Tang Dynasty) to learn Tang pattern techniques, which they incorporated and developed into Bingata.

Then there is the "Shiroma Family," which also has a long tradition, and which put a lot of effort into the revival of Bingata after the war. During the Ryukyu Dynasty, there were several workshops in each family line, such as "Shimogibo-mura" and "Kamigibo-mura" (Each is near Shuri.).

During the dynastic period from the early 1400s to the late 1800s, Bingata had the role of indicating the rank of royalty and the warrior class. Patterns and colors were mainly reserved for royalty. The gorgeous and beautiful costumes are known as "Shuri-type. Only kings were allowed to wear yellow kimonos.


On the other hand, there was the "Naha type," which was allowed to be worn by commoners and those with special recognition. It seems that this Naha kata also uses colors similar to those of today's Bingata for kimono.


There is another "Urasoe kata. This Bingata has been handed down in the Takushi family using the ink rubbing technique and konjac glue.

There is also the "Oboro-kata (uburu)," which uses two pieces of patterned paper and dyes the pattern on top of each other. The "double-sided kata" is dyed using exactly the same process on both sides. The "Ai-gata" is dyed using Ryukyu indigo. Each of these techniques has colored the history of Okinawa.

Ryukyu Bingata almost disappeared many times in history due to the Satsuma invasion, the disposal of Ryukyu, and the Pacific War, but each time it overcame hardships, revived, and remained in the present day, connecting history.
Ryukyu Bingata is the history of Okinawa itself.

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