Have you seen our gorgeous new Ryukyu-bingata inspired print dresses yet?
Certainly one of our most popular designs this summer, our charming prints are inspired by authentic patterns from Japan’s southernmost Okinawa islands.
Join us as we take a look at the history and techniques behind our new dresses…
The story of Ryukyu-bingata begins over 500 years ago, with techniques adapted from around Asia, thanks to the geographic location of the Ryukyu (now Okinawa) islands and trade between nations.
Ryukyu-bingata designs are famous for their beautiful rich colors and shading, as well as the natural imagery, inspired by the flora and fauna of the islands.
To create unique colors, many natural materials including shells, plants and even arsenic and sulphur were used, with complex designs involving almost 20 colors – in fact, our bingata design actually uses 22 colors, thanks to modern printing technology!
Colorful designs were exclusively worn by members of the royal family, with citizens limited to simple indigo patterns.
Our beautiful Ryukyu-bingata dresses are available in three color ways:
なでしこ Nadeshiko (pink)
藍 Ai (indigo)
あまいろ Amairo (sky blue)
The traditional Ryukyu-bingata process involves ten intricate steps:
- Stencil cutting – designs are cut with a fine blade into mulberry paper, coated with persimmon for hardness
- Stencil resist painting – paste, made from boiled rice, rice bran and water, is applied to the stencil
- Freehand resist painting – for large designs, rice paste is painted by hand onto the cloth
- Painting – painting starts from light to dark colors, and can vary from monotone to colorful designs in beautiful natural tones
- Re-painting – for extra vibrancy, the painting process is repeated
- Details – around the edge of the patterns is defined to create extra detail
- Background resist – if the background requires painting, rice paste is added to the previously painted areas
- Background painting – the entire background of the design is painted
- Color setting – the fabric is steamed to set the colors
- Washing – finally, the fabric is washed and dried and ready for use
For large designs such as kimono, it can take three people several days to paint and prepare bingata cloth, and accordingly Ryukyu-bingata kimono are a stunning luxury item. Modern uses for bingata include home wear and casual clothing.
(Nadeshiko gather dress, Ai gather dress, Amairo cache-coeur dress)
Our Ryukyu-bingata dresses utilize the best of modern Japanese technology and craftsmanship to unite traditional techniques and designs with the needs of modern women around the world.
Not only are our dresses a gorgeous example of authentic Japanese design, but they’re also fully machine washable, drip dry and crease-resistant too, making for an elegant and easy way to capture the beauty of Japan.
Discover more from our Ryukyu collection, and our Contemporary Kimono designs.