【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Shuri weaving (Okinawa Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Shuri weaving (Okinawa Prefecture)~


Shuri weaving



【Production area of Shuri weaving】

Okinawa main island



【What is Shuri weaving?】

Textiles produced on the main island of Okinawa.

The monori and kasuri fabrics that have been handed down in Shuri are collectively called “Shuri weaving”.

It is a form of small-lot, high-variety production because one craftsman does all the processes without adopting a division of labor system.


Threads such as cotton, silk, hemp, and banana are used as raw materials.

Plant and chemical dyes such as Ryukyu indigo, fukugi, shibuki, itajii, and soushiju are used as dyes.


Around the 14th and 15th centuries, the Ryukyu Kingdom actively traded with the Chinese dynasties such as the Yuan and Ming dynasties, and Southeast Asian countries.

And not only things, but also textile technology was incorporated into their culture.


In April 1983, it was designated as a traditional craft.



【Features of Shuri weaving】

The feature is that there are many types of textiles that match the local culture and local characteristics of Okinawa.


・Shuri Hanakura weaving


It is the most prestigious fabric, worn by royal wives and princesses in the summer.


・Shuri flower weaving


There are four types: double-sided ukihana-ori, weft ukihana-ori, tehana-ori, and warp ukihana-ori.

(The image above is double-sided ukibana weave)


・Shuri Doton weaving


During the Ryukyu Dynasty, it was used as official uniform for men.

It is woven with partially dense threads and is characterized by being able to be used on both sides.


・Shuri Kasuri


It is woven using a technique called temusubi, which is unique to Shuri Ori.

There are three types: Tejima, Ayanonaka, and Morodorikiri.

(The image above is Tejima)


・ Shuri Mincer


A fabric that combines une weave and double-sided ukibana weave, in which two or more warp threads are lined up and woven thickly.



【History of Shuri weaving】

Around the 14th and 15th centuries, trade with mainland China and Southeast Asian countries was actively carried out, and not only goods but also textile technology was adopted.

The variety of textiles we introduced earlier was born by skillfully integrating Okinawa’s unique culture and local characteristics such as climate.


As Shuri was the capital (castle town) of the Ryukyu dynasty, textile technology developed in order to produce the clothes worn by the aristocrats of the royal government.

In addition, not only skill but also color tone and elegance were pursued.

In this way, Shuri weaving has been handed down from generation to generation, starting with the women of the royal family.


The kasuri pattern, which incorporates nature such as animals and plants into the design, was created using the hand-knotted kasuri technique, which is a unique Okinawan culture.

Ryukyu Kasuri, which was born in Okinawa, has a great influence on other production areas in Japan.



【Production process of Shuri weaving】

As mentioned earlier, there are many types of Shuri weaving.

Here, let’s take a look at the general production process of Kasuri.


①Design plan


This is the process of deciding on colors, designs, the amount of threads and dyes required for production, referring to design collections that have been handed down since ancient times.

One of the collections of designs that craftsmen refer to is the “picture book” that has existed since the Shuri royal government era.

While adding a modern sensibility to the basic pattern that has been handed down from generation to generation, they will plan the design.


②Thread reeling


Craftsmen remove impurities from the raw material threads and prepare the warp threads.

After that, the thread reeling is performed after gluing.




In this process, the necessary length and number of threads are adjusted according to the size of the fabric to be produced.


④Kasuri tying

Based on the design made in the design plan, the stretched warp threads are marked and then tied by hand.

At the same time, the length and number of the kasuri threads are determined with reference to the design of the weft threads.



Plants that can be harvested in Okinawa, such as Ryukyu indigo and Syrinbai, are mainly used as dyes.

As the name suggests, Ryukyu indigo has been cultivated in Okinawa since ancient times.

Since indigo has insect repellent and antibacterial effects, it has been used for clothing and daily necessities since ancient times.


In the case of indigo dyeing, the threads are placed in a container containing indigo juice, and the threads are lightly kneaded by hand to allow the dye to soak in.

After that, it is important to dry the tightly squeezed threads in the sun.

Dyeing must be repeated many times to achieve the desired color.


⑥Preparation for weaving

After untying the threads, they are stretched and stretched according to the design.

The work proceeds in the order of temporary threading, thread winding, heddle threading, and final threading.




The weaving work uses a tall loom.

After setting the weft on the hand-throwing shuttle, the craftsmen carefully weave according to the design.

Weaving is a process that requires a lot of time and effort, as it requires repeated, complex work.

It is said that even a first-class craftsman can weave 30 square centimeters a day.




After the fabric is woven, wash it off with lukewarm water.

The purpose of this is to “remove the glue on the warp threads” and “repair the texture”.

After washing and drying, the Shuri weave is completed.





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