An Antique Ryukyu Tesaji Fragment: Traditional Betrothal Textile in Banana Fiber
ca. late nineteenth century
20" x 11", 51 cm x 28 cm
The hand woven cloth of the Ryukyu islands, now known as Okinawa, are very prized within Japan and holds a place of honor within that country.
The cloth of the Ryukyus is rich in its own tradition while it borrows some motifs and techniques from Japan. However the bashofu (banana fiber cloth), the richly colored, resist dyed bingata cloth, the magical woven hana ori (weft float) cloth and the superlative and fine ramie weaving called miyako jofu are but a few of the superlative textile art offerings borne in this subtropical archipelago of over 100 islands.
This is a fragment from a tesaji which is an unfinished cloth of banana fiber which is striated with bands of undyed and indigo dyed cotton and undyed and safflower dyed cotton. Tesaji are traditional cloths woven by a marriage-age Okinawan girl which were presented to a marriage-age Okinawan boy as a promise for marriage.
This particular example is worn and a bit faded, and as is quite obvious, it shows two very prominent patches.
It goes without saying that any such textile as this one from Okinawa is tinged with rarity and is a lure for collectors. This piece, although worn and a bit faded, still carries the allure of the weaving from the old Ryukyu kingdom, and we are very pleased to present it here today.