Beautiful textiles in different techniques and materials
Okinawan islands used to be an independent kingdom called “Ryukyu”. Okinawan people have very rich textile tradition. Each island has its characteristics for material and techniques, such as “BINGATA”( stencil dye), “BASHO FU” ( banana fiber cloth), “YAEYAMA JOFU” and“MIYAKO JOFU” (ramie fiber cloth) with traditional ikat patterns.“HANA ORI”, which is a pattern weaving, can be found in Shuri (Naha area) as “SHURI HANA ORI”, and “YUNTANZA HANAUI” is woven in Yomitanzan area. Most of Okinawan islands can produce their own weaving or dyeing materials and create unique style of fabrics. Please watch videos “Ryukyu Kimono” on links page.
“BASHO” is a certain kind of banana tree in Japanese, and “FU” means fabric or cloth.
I heard there are three kinds of banana trees: for fruit, for flower and for fiber.
Yaeyama jofu / Miyako jofu
JOFU （上布）generally means “fine ramie fabric”.
Although in Okinawa, it wouldn’t simply mean “high quality”, it could be dedicated gift to the king or tribute.
Yaeyama Jofu is mainly woven in Ishigaki-Jima(island) and Miyako Jofu is named after the island of Miyako-Jima where it has been developed. Both of them are made with ramie.
Yaeyama Jofu traditionally has ikat or double ikat patterns by tying or rub-dye method with brown or indigo color on white fabric, using hand made ramie thread for warps and wefts. Lately, hand made warp thread is replaced by manufactured ramie thread according to a fall of the number of thread makers is decreasing.
Miyako Jofu is a fabric which is woven with 100% hand made ramie thread for warps and wefts. The thread has to be dyed with natural material. The ikat pattern preparation is done by hand or by Shibebata(special loom designed for the squeezing threads). A typical Miyako Jofu has very fine white double ikat patterns on deep indigo color fabric.