Bingata Robe with Design of Weeping Cherry Blossoms Branches and Medallions on Light Blue Ground

Organization control number
Era century
Ryukyu, Second Shō dynasty–the Meiji period, 19th
Item shape
Plain-woven Ramie / stencil dying on both sides/ u
Length: 121.2 cm; from the center of the back to s
Kyushu National Museum
Bingata is an Okinawan traditional dying technique originating from the Ryukyu Kingdom period. Using stencil sheets, various patterns are dyed using a glue resist printing method, on which pigments or dyes are applied. In a report written in 1800 by Li Dingyuan, a member of a Chinese Legation to the Ryukyu kingdom, bingata techniques similar to the techniques are described. It is thus deduced that the present bingata techniques were at the latest established in the mid-18th century. In this pale blue garment, colorful designs are arranged in three horizontal layers—the shoulder, mid-section, and bottom. The designs comprise of brightly-colored weeping cherry blossoms and medallions with daffodils against purple and checkerboard background. The garment has bright colors of vermilion, purple, and yellow. Its overall light blue hue and ramie material create a cool and refreshing impression. In Ryukyu kingdom, only aristocracy was permitted to wear bingata garments. Stylistically, there was no difference between garments for men and women. Men wore it with a broad sash while women wore the same garment as a gown without a sash. This object retains features of Ryukyu-style costumes such as a wide lapel-style collar, broad sleeves completely sewn to the body, and gussets attached to both sides. However, the width of the garment has been narrowed. This indicates that it was altered in the Meiji period (1968–1912) or later. The stencil used for this garment is one of the large-motif stencils with white background measuring 53.0 by 42.0 cm. This dimension virtually coincides with the “stencil sheet against white background with designs of weeping cherry blossoms and medallions” from the collection of Kamakura Yoshitarō (1898–1983). He collected bingata materials from the end of the Taishō (1912–1926) to the early Shōwa period (1926–1989) (in the Collection of Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts No. 1034).