Skip to main content

Woven Identities of Japan - Ainu and Okinawan Textiles

Bingata kimono

In the first of two rotations, Woven Identities of Japan highlights the Ainu and Okinawan textiles from the late 19th c to early 20th c. Now on display at the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford, California are kimonos and robes worn by these two distinct ethnic groups. The contrasts in the types of fabrics, ornamentation and color used by the Ainu and Okinawan people speak of their traditions, beliefs, social divide and geographical influences.

In  Okinawa, textiles were embellished with a stencil dyeing technique called bingata which was for the exclusive use of the Ryukyuan court. The Ryukyu Kingdom was established in 1429 and was a maritime power in Asia. Cotton, silk and banana leaf textiles were solely for the use of the upper classes  The kimono shown above is light and transparent, appropriate for the tropical climate in southern Japan. In contrast, the robes of the Ainu from Hokkaido in the north were made from elm tree or nettle fibers which provided insulation against the cold and harsh climate. Notice also the tapered sleeves of the Ainu robe compared to the wide and longer trailing sleeves of the Okinawan kimono.

Attush robe

The Ainu were hunters and gatherers. Their robes essentially expressed their religious beliefs. The Attush robe above is woven from elm tree fiber which the Ainu believed protected its wearer from evil. They also thought that evil spirits entered their body through the openings in their robes so hems and sleeves were therefore elaborately adorned with applique and embroidery. The Attush robe was worn for special occasions.

 Ainu man

The exhibit continues until October 29, 2011. The second rotation will start in November 2011. For more information please click on this link: http://www.ccjac.org/
The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture
15770 Tenth Avenue
Hanford, CA
Phone; 559-582-4915

The kimonos shown above are from the private collection of Thomas Murray. The scroll is from Clark Collection.

*  *  *

Images by Charie

Popular posts from this blog

Adare, Ireland's Prettiest Village

Thatched-roof cottages
Twenty minutes south of Limerick City on the River Maigue is Ireland's prettiest village, Adare. It's a small town, pleasantly quiet even in mid July, at the height of the tourist season. There was a celebrity classic golf tournament going on at the exclusive Adare Manor Golf Course during my visit. But thankfully, this did not bring in the crowds.

Augustinian Priory
It's an easy stroll from the Augustinian Priory to Bill Chawke's Lounge Bar on the opposite end of town.  Centuries old thatched roof cottages, medieval monasteries, vine covered townhouses, the Adare Town Park and the quintessential Irish pubs line Main Street. There's no need to rush. All these places invite visitors to linger and savor the moment.

At Bill Chawke's the kegs are full and ready to be served. But before saying your first "sláinte!" (to your health), consider walking the extra mile or so to the ruins of Desmond Castle, north of Adare Manor. It dates bac…

Bargain Shopping in Greenhills, Metro Manila

At Greenhills indoor flea market, you will find santos (religious statues), costume jewelry, authentic South Seas pearls, clothes, shoes, knock off branded handbags, Oriental furnishings, Christmas decorations, paintings, souvenirs and linens. There are stalls upon stalls of goods and you walk down narrow aisles teeming with shoppers who are at this moment doing their Christmas shopping.


I was particulary interested in new costume jewelry trends and there are a variety of stones and glass beads on display. The latest is a headband made of shiny glass beads, a unique party accessory. I was pleased to find wood carvings and paintings at much more reasonable prices than elsewhere in the city, except in Divisoria which I have yet to check out.


Weekends and holidays are the worst times to come though you can shop their night market during the holidays. Crowds notwithstanding, I plan to spend more time shopping for home furnishings at Greenhills after the holidays.

* * *

Photos by Charie

The Lagoons of Ko Olina

Lagoon 1  (open to the public)
There are four inviting lagoons in Ko Olina, on the western shores of Oahu, about 30 minutes from Honolulu International Airport.  If you prefer to be far away from the madding crowd, the Ko Olina resorts are an option. Each resort has its own private lagoon, which, even on the weekends is uncrowded.  While first time visitors flock to Waikiki and locals congregate at Ala Moana Beach, Ko Olina remains off the radar screen except to those who belong to the Marriott Vacation Club. The Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort and Spa and the Ko Olina Beach Club are open to non members.
Lagoon 3
As of this writing, there is construction going on for more units which will surely impact the peace and quiet of this area. For now it is a great place for lazy days on the water, for energizing walks through all four lagoons, for rejuvenating mind and body, for watching the sunset, and for being grateful for yet another beautiful day in paradise.
Secret Lagoon
Among other att…