Okinawa used to be an independent kingdom, called “Ryukyu” (琉球), between early 15th centuries and late 19th centuries.
Located in the middle of three countries, China, Korea, and Japan, Ryukyu flourished as a base of intermediate trade. It extended the trading far even to South-East Asia countries, and finally had a strong relationship with Malacca.
In 1609, “Satsuma-han”(薩摩藩), a Japanese local reign at that time in “Kyusyu”(九州) area, invaded Ryukyu and put it under their control.
With influences of various countries by the intermediate trading, Ryukyu had established their unique culture, which seems to be deeply influenced by mainland China, and Japan especially.
As many of you may know, Okinawa was under American control during 1945-1972, because Japan lost in World War II. This experience must have influenced on modern Okinawa culture.
Coming back to Bingata exhibition, there were about 245 exhibits in the museum !
Most of them were for noble women in 18-19 centuries, and some were for children.
They were splendid and worth to watch.
Probably, the representative of Bingata Kimono that many people would imagine is the one like below picture.
Ryukyu-taste colorful picture on the vivid yellow like this used be that only for most noble, highest class royal women.
Although the shape of the Kimono of the above picture is modern Furisode actually, Ryukyu shape of Kimono was not like this. Can you tell the difference of the shape between those kimonos on below and above pictures ?
The shape in the below picture seems to have the influence of ancient Chinese close.
What found interesting are,
- Most of kimonos are not vivid yellow like above picture, but more rustic colors, which may have been influenced by Satsuma-han.
- The shape of the Ryukyu Kimonos for adult women was different from that of current Japanese Kimono. (This seems to be natural.) Namely, It was Ryukyu style shape that looked like between Japanese and Chinese. However, amazingly, the shape of the Kimonos for the children exhibited was completely as same as that of current Japanese Kimono for the children ! Why ???
- The happy motifs used for the patterns were “Sho-Chiku-Bai”(松竹梅, pine, bamboo, and plum) and “Tsuru-Kame”(鶴亀, crane and turtle), that have been completely the same in Japan.
Both “Ho-Chiku-Bai” and “Tsuru-Kame” derive from mainland China. However, it is not clear which, China or Japan directly influenced Ryukyu to take these happy motifs.
“Sho-Chiku-Bai” originated in China of 10th centuries called “宋”, and ”Tsuru-Kame” originated in China of 7-9th centuries, called “唐.”
Although there were no answers for the questions above in the exhibition, it was very interesting.
As they provide the guidance support in English, foreigners who are interested in “Ryukyu Bingata” should enjoy it.
Lastly, this is nice information for those who would like to enjoy “Bingata” but cannot buy it because of the expensiveness.
They sell cheeper “Bingata” products. Here are “Clear-file” and “Coaster” !