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Bingata: Bright and Colourful Okinawan Fabric

adobestock_76557579From sober and simple aizome (indigo-dyed) prints, to the vivid roses and pop-art polkadots of the modern era, kimono come in many colours and patterns: muted, bright, traditional, and novel. One of the most colourful and vivid among these dyeing traditions is Okinawan bingata, which dates back to the Ryukyu Kingdom in the 14th century. A type of resist dyeing, the methods used in bingata are very similar to those used for Indonesian batik. This is not surprising, as the 14th century Ryukyu Kingdom was a major hub for trade between many of the countries in Southeast Asia.

To achieve its signature motifs of nature, bingata employs stencils cut from mulberry paper which has been coated with persimmon tannin to make it stiff and durable. These stencils are then used to paint the fabric with a paste made from boiled rice and rice bran. This layer of rice paste protects the fabric from the dye which is then painted on one colour at a time, and sometimes even applied twice to ensure maximum brightness.

Bingata Beniwakana

This year’s HYPER JAPAN Christmas market offers a variety of traditional wear and fabrics available for purchase. Our exhibitor Bingata Beniwakana turns her beautifully dyed fabrics into charming and colorful accessories, while AOI Clothing will be back again with a wide range of second-hand kimono and obi at reasonable prices. Don’t miss your chance to snag some examples of traditional Japanese handiwork, either as a gift for someone or just for yourself!