Shuri-ori, made from thread derived from silk and fibers of raw wild banana bark, dyed in both chemical and natural plant dyes such as fukugi and Ryukyu indigo, is highly prized for its refined designs reflecting the tastes of Ryukyuan nobility, as well as a warmth and comfort characteristic of hand-woven fabric. Shuri, once the political and cultural heart of the Ryukyu Kingdom, flourished as the center of trade and distribution of locally produced fabric. Its storied past as a thriving and prosperous hub can be clearly seen in the rich and diverse variety of textiles that exist in Okinawa today.
In 1429, three independent principalities known as the Three Kingdoms were unified by the first king of the Ryukyu Kingdom, King Sho Hashi, who established Shuri as the capital of the kingdom. Shuri continued to prosper until the Meiji era (1868-1912), playing a central role in importing and applying techniques in fabric weaving and dyeing brought into the kingdom from China and abroad to create a tradition of textile production truly unique to the islands of the Ryukyus. In particular, the many types of kasuri as seen in the “Oezucho”, a collection of patterning for cloth presented as tribute to the kingdom, can be said to form the basis for all traditional Okinawan textiles. Although its traditional fabric production processes were devastated by WWII, efforts to rebuild the industry in Shuri after the war aided in its recovery, culminating in Shuri-ori, a combination of Shuri kasuri, Shuri hana-ori, dōtun-ori, hanakura-ori, and Shuri minsā, being recognized as a nationally designated traditional craft.
|Silk thread, cotton thread, hemp thread, bashō thread
|Place of manufacture
|Kimono, obi, small accessories (bags, shawls, placemats etc.)
|Partnership name and date of establishment
|Naha Traditional Textile Business Cooperative Association (July 13th, 1976)
|Date designated by national
|April 27th, 1983
|Date designated by prefecture
|Shuri hana-ori: June 11th, 1974, Shuri dōtun-ori: June 11th, 1974, Shuri minsā: June 11th, 1974, Shuri hanakura-ori: June 12th, 1998. Shuri kasuri: June 12th, 1998
|*Source: "An Outline of Promotion Strategies for the Craft Industry"
Today, Shuri-ori is mainly produced in municipalities surrounding Naha City. The textile industry struggled to find artisans to continue the trade of weaving after WWII, leading to serious concerns that traditional weaving techniques may be lost permanently. However, dedicated efforts to revive the industry have led to increased interest in Shuri-ori with each passing year. In 1974, Shuri-ori was officially identified as an “authentic textile of Shuri” and designated as an intangible cultural asset by the prefecture. In 1976, the Naha Traditional Textile Business Cooperative Association was established. Prefecture promotion plans paved the way for the construction of the Shuri Community Weaving Center in 1984. In recent history, “Shuri-ori” was registered as a trademark and established as a regional brand in 2006.
In addition to traditional Japanese kimono and obi sashes, Shuri-ori is also used to create a variety of other products such as tapestries, bags, shawls, and many other lifestyle goods.