Date of this Version
Published in Hidden Stories/Human Lives: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 17th Biennial Symposium, October 15-17, 2020. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost insular prefecture, has a rich variety of weaving and dyeing traditions, but it is in the midst of issues including an aging local population and depopulating rural communities. Thus, one of the most vexing concerns is how to carry on the weaving and dyeing traditions. This study aims to find ways to ameliorate the condition in Okinawa by analyzing how the lives of Okinawa people relate to the traditional weaving and dyeing in the modern era and by understanding the current significance of them to people’s lives.
This study uses nineteen cases from all over Okinawa, and the analysis is made in terms of connections between the traditions and local ways of life, the people’s exploration of their local cultural history and assets, and the search for economic feasibility.
The connection between weaving and dyeing traditions and people’s lives is clear in the cases of Motobu, Miyako, Kohama, Kume and Yonaguni, in which local weavers and dyers are managing the balance of work and life well, and the work of weaving and dyeing is mingled into family life and community activities. The cases of Ohgimi, Okinawa City, Tarama, Uruma, Yomitan, Naha, Urasoe, and Tomigusuku show respectively that their people attempt to understand the local history and cultural features, so they express their sense of locality through weaving and dyeing in their own ways. The cases from Haebaru, Ishigaki, Taketomi, and Iriomote illustrate that seeking economic feasibility goes hand in hand with seeking the meaning of the weaving and dyeing activity and, thus, the activity becomes a source of people’s fun and IKIGAI (worthiness of living).