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Textiles Coursework Sample
The most beautiful Okinawan textiles are the stencil-dyed fabrics called bingata, or colored patterns. The size of the design indicated the social standing of the person, large patterns being reserved for the royalty and the warriors. Colors were also related to social status, with yellow being restricted to the royal family. The designs, varied and colorful, showed charming representations of birds, insects, flowers, trees, and landscapes. Some definitely recall Chinese motifs, such as the Okinawan landscape with flying birds, while other designs, such as the lovely iris in ripples of water, are clearly of Japanese origin. The butterflies and dragonflies so common in these textiles were symbols of departed spirits. Another sacred symbol was the tomoe, or large comma, which was the crest of the royal family.
The most common Okinawan textile design is the kasuri pattern, still being made today, which was imported from Okinawa to Japan proper, where it proved equally successful. It is an abstract pattern, consisting of arrangements of geometric figures in various combinations. Traditionally the color and size of the design as well as the material used varied according to the rank of the person who wore the garment, the most important personages wearing yellow silk with kasuri designs in green, red, and violet. Another strikingly beautiful type of cloth worn by the upper classes were the light banana-fiber textiles, dyed pink and decorated with dark-blue designs. Other kasuri kimonos were made of linen or cotton and were worn by the common people. Some textiles use a mixture of materials, the warp and woof being of different fibers, silk and cotton, for example. The beautiful design with abstract birds and differently colored, crossing stripes shows an interesting combination of a traditional kasuri pattern with a plaid design. Whatever the color, pattern, or material, however, these kasuri kimonos have the same beauty of abstract design, the same subtle yet vivid color, and the same marvelous workmanship which is the product of both a long tradition and a highly developed artistic sensitivity.
The third major group of Okinawan designs is the one in which stripes or plaid patterns predominate. They too are often of great beauty, although the designs are less varied than similar stripes and plaids found in Japan and many other parts of the world. Stripes of various widths, placed against differently colored backgrounds or intersecting at right angles, form plaid patterns of many types.
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