Hana-ori is used in the production of small, weaved handkerchiefs known as “tīsaji” in the Okinawan language, long cherished in the history of the Okinawa islands as a talisman for safe voyage.
The practice of gifting tinsaji remains in the cultural narrative of Okinawa as a recurring theme in traditionally performed song and dance.
It is thought that techniques for hana-ori were created spontaneously when unintended looping of weft and warp threads that occurred from the process of plain weaving were made to appear as intentional patterns on weaved surfaces. This practice, known in earlier days as “hana-ui”, assumed various forms across different parts of Okinawa, whose history is rich with the production of a variety of loom-weaved textiles, and these unique patterning traditions have been passed from one generation to the next.
Historical records suggest that weaving in the Yaeyama region first began in 1634, when a man named Yasushi Ohama of Kawahira Village brought back cotton cultivation, thread making and weaving techniques from Kerama Island, where he was exiled.
While early records of capitation tax in Yaeyama, which indicate a payment of an amount of weaved textile for some 40,000 tīsaji, exist along with documentation of the existence of weaving in the islands of Ishigaki, Taketomi and Yonaguni, it remains unclear where existing forms of tīsaji have originated.
In Yaeyama, where Yaeyama jōfu remained the main form of tax payment, the local textile industry flourished even after land tax reforms due to active demand for the fabric in garment production.
The practice of weaving tīsaji, however, gradually declined over time because it was generally regarded as an item for daily use, which did not render it valuable enough to be weaved for monetary profit. Tīsaji gradually faded from popular use, leaving its presence as a cultural motif in traditional song and dance.
In 1989, Sachiko Takamine, the current president of the Yaeyama Hana-ori Business Cooperative Association, learnt of the existence of hana-ori. She promptly began receiving training on weaving methods for the lost art from the prefecture’s Craft Training Center, and embarked on undertaking an instrumental role in reviving Yaeyama hana-ori.
Ms. Takamine has dedicated herself to recreating tīsaji based on archived historical materials collected through her own research efforts. In addition to reproducing to the finest detail varied patterns and colors of tīsaji that have been documented in original tax records from the royal government of the Ryukyu Kingdom, she also played a central role in the creation of “hana-ori minsā”, a double-sided floating ridge weave of warp and weft yarns that incorporate traditional patterns that represent the numbers 5 (“itsu”) and 4 (“yo”), symbols that represent eternal love.
The industry continues to explore new possibilities for hana-ori weaving techniques, while devoting efforts in researching weaving materials and creating new patterns such as tortoiseshell and streamlined motifs, in the hope that traditional weaving can continue to have a place in the hearts of people of modern society today.
|Place of manufacture||Ishigaki City|
|Main Products||Obi, table runners etc.|
|Partnership name and date of establishment||Yaeyama Hana-ori Business Cooperative Association, March 18th, 2005|
|Date designated by national||ー|
|Date designated by prefecture||ー|
|Source||*Source: Official website of Yaeyama Hana-ori Business Cooperative Association (www.hanaori.biz)|
At present, Yaeyama hana-ori is made exclusively in workshops located in Ishigaki City, with members of the local cooperative association responsible for weaving and production processes.
Ms. Sachiko Takamine, who became the first person to revive the art of hana-ori after receiving instruction on its weaving techniques in 1989, consolidated support from like-minded volunteers and textile manufacturing workshops, which eventually culminated in the establishment of the Yaeyama Hana-ori Business Cooperative Association on March 18th, 2005, of which Ms. Takamine is now serves as president.
Textile wholesaler Mineya Kōbo of Ishigaki City operates a retail store as well as an online shop where customers can purchase obi sashes, bags and other accessories featuring Yaeyama hana-ori.