Chibana-hanaori textiles Photo:Okinawa Prefecture

Chibana-hanaori textiles Chibana hanaori

Exquisite textile with a long history
that makes best use of the cultural heritage


What is Chibana-hanaori textiles ?

Chibana Hanaori is a textile produced in Chibana, Okinawa City, Okinawa Prefecture.
The characteristic of Chibana Hanaori is the flowery patterns woven in the base textile. Textiles that have a continuous geometric pattern like Chibana Hanaori are referred to as Mon-orimono (figured fabric). It is said that the gorgeous pattern was brought into the country from southern Asia. There are two kinds of Chibana Hanaori. One is the Tate Uki Hanaori, in which patterns appear vertically. The other is the Nuitori Hanaori, in which the patterns woven look as though they are embroidered. The raw material was mainly cotton but sometimes silk and wool were also used. Normally, a textile design uses the same pattern woven continuously for the whole length of the kimono fabric. However, Chibana Hanaori sometimes had different patterns at the beginning and at the end. This was because Chibana Hanaori was not subject to tax collection, although there were many textiles that were given as gifts to the government in lieu of paying money for tax during the Ryukyu Royal Kingdom period.
Chibana Hanaori was also worn for ritual events and this custom is still passed down today.


Chibana-hanaori textiles - History Photo:Okinawa Prefecture

The origin of Chibana Hanaori is not clear. However, it is said that the Hanaori was first woven in the region surrounding Kyu Misato-mura (Okinawa City today) around the 18th century. The Ryukyu Royal Kingdom was actively trading with China and the southern Asian countries around that time; therefore, it is considered that the origin of the Hanaori was south Asia. Chibana Hanaori was not subject to utilization as a gift to the Royal government so the designs of the textile could be woven freely and it was also worn for ritual events. Chibana Hanaori had been worn for the rituals to pray for a big harvest, such as Umaharashi (a horse race) on 14th August and Usudeku (a traditional dancing festival for women) on 15th August in the old calendar. However, after the Meiji period started, the production of Chibana Hanaori declined rapidly.
Okinawa had catastrophic damage during the First and Second World War and the technique of producing Chibana Hanaori completely died out. In 1989, fortunately, Chibana Hanaori was revived for the first time in 100 years. The government supports the movement to protect the technique today so the textile is actively produced not only for kimono material but also for accessories including men’s ties.

General Production Process

Chibana-hanaori textiles - General Production Process Photo:Okinawa Prefecture

  1. 1. Design The design of the textile is decided using, for example, graph paper.
  2. 2. Ito Maki The threads are wound around the Kase (a wooden bobbin).
  3. 3. Warping The warp threads are sorted into the length and the width that are required for a roll of textile.
  4. 4. Dyeing the threads Dyes are extracted from natural materials. The Jiiro (a basic color) is often navy blue and Ryukyu Ai (indigo) is used for dyeing. The extract from Ryukyu Ai produces the navy blue specific to Okinawa. When the threads are dyed many times in Ryukyu Ai dye, which is fermented in the Awamori (a strong liquor), the threads becomes a deep navy blue. Fukugi (happiness tree) and Sharinbai (Yeddo hawthorn) are used to produce yellow and red for the flowery pattern. Fukugi are the trees that are planted in a garden to protect against the wind in Okinawa. The bark and leaves of Fukugi are used to extract the dye. Sharinbai are the trees with small and pretty white flowers that have bark which is rich in tannin and produces a brownish-red color.
  5. 5. The Kari Osa Doshi (temporarily putting the threads through reed) The dyed threads are put through to the fine grooves of the Osa (reed) one by one. The Osa is used for the preparation process before weaving and it is removed when weaving starts. The Kari Osa Doshi is a process to sort the colored threads and the Jiito (foundation threads) and to put the sorted threads through the Osa temporarily.
  6. 6. The Soko Doshi (putting the threads through the heddle) The Kari Osa boards are removed and the threads are put through the Soko (heddle), which is the part that moves threads up and down. The top thread and bottom thread are kept separately in the Soko so that the weft thread can pass between the top and the bottom thread. The textile is woven by crossing the threads alternately.
  7. 7. The Hon Osa Doshi (putting through the threads for actual weaving) After the Soko Doshi process, the warp threads are put through the Osa (reed) again. The top and the bottom threads are set separately to put them through the Osa at this time.
  8. 8. Weaving The weft threads are passed in accordance with the design while weaving. The textile is woven using the technique of the Tate Uki Hanaori, which produces the patterns vertically, and the Nuitori Hanaori, which weaves the textile as though it is embroidered.
  9. 9. The Araihari (washing and drying) When the textile is woven, it is washed and stretched out to dry. The Shinshi is a curved pole and it pulls the textile sideways to prevent it from shrinking so that the size of the textile (the width and the length) are even and as specified.

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