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Only in Okinawa

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Guest blog post by Rebecca Black. 'Bingata! Only in Okinawa', an exciting new exhibition at George Washington University Textile Museum, explores the textile history of Japan's southernmost prefecture. An independent kingdom until 1879, Okinawa's fabric traditions developed independently of mainland Japan. 201412bingata_main-600x350 The region is especially known for inventing Bingata, a type of dyed cloth, recognisable due to its use of bright colours, stencils and nature-themed patterns, which often include water, fish, flowers and birds. Dating from the 14th century, this is one of the first western exhibitions dedicated entirely to this unusual fabric. Bingata-2-2-17-header On top of its obvious beauty, Bingata is incredibly labour intensive. One manufacturer described how using the traditional processes, "it takes three people three days to paint material for a kimono". Whilst the fabric was originally used for royal attire and for clothes worn by court entertainers, aristocrats and warriors, today the technique has been re-appropriated by contemporary artisans. b95602d01b91f0d54d537e6df6a0f10e The exhibition curates this theme beautifully, contrasting delicate pieces which often date back to the 17th or 18th century with modern interpretations by young Japanese fashion designers. 5c2484d200c8027a558f70bacd76112d It also shows the incredible influence that just one region of Japan has had on the entire country's cultural history. Celebrated across Japan, Bingata is now recognised as an important part of Okinawa's 'golden age of trade'. Organised in partnership with the Okinawa Prefectural Government, this exhibition will allow the region to share their unique legacy with a global audience. Bingata! Only in Okinawa   The George Washington University Textile Museum Until 30 January 2017. www.museum.gwu.edu


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