Textile of the Week: 201106 Fake Bingata
One of the great joys of collecting textiles is being able to make comparisons and hone my powers of observation. It allows me to appreciate exquisite craftsmanship and also to imagine the workings of the artist’s brain as the ideas developed and came to fruition.

I find especially fascinating the workings of making a fake. When I use the term fake, I assume the creator fashioned a piece with the intent to deceive–either the customer or the viewing audience.

There are also imitation pieces, which are presented as such and reflected in the pricing of the textile when new. And there is yet another category in which a work will reflect the beauty of another technique without the intention to pull a fast one. I’ll deal with the later subjects in in the next sample card but for now the sample of the week is dealing with outright fraud–and I love it!

As part of my Textile of the Week Series, I want to be able to supply you with companion pieces to help in making comparisons. Next week will be a very fine quality imitation bingata piece with government certification stating that it is an imitation made by members of the Craft Guild of Japan. And following that, will be a truly beautiful hand-dyed bingata piece on chirimen silk. So here we go…
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201106-Fake Bingata
Sample 201106-Bigata Fake $12 plus postage and tax. ($12 even for subscribers. For more information about subscriptions, click on this text.)
I purchased the piece presented here from a very reputable dealer and paid quite a hefty price. I am quite certain that the on-line seller had no intention of deceiving anyone – what they were offering, and what I bought, was based on the labels that came with the bolt.

Mitsukoshi is a very old and very reputable department store, with branches world wide. The core around which the fabric is rolled has the Mitsukoshi mark ()on both ends. However, rolls can be easily substituted. It also has a Mitsukoshi tag (the paper slip sticking out the side), but these can also be easily stolen and added to any bolt.
Mitsukoshi Department Store Labels
At the beginning of the bolt we find lettering stating that this is Ryuukyuu bingata, that is, authentic bingata produced in Okinawa (generally considered to be more expensive than bingata produced in the rest of Japan). As it turns out, the silk itself is a very high quality
The label reads "Ryuukyuu Bingata–100% silk".
weave, it just isn’t bingata and it certainly isn’t from Okinawa. Anyone not familiar with bingata, but familiar with quality silk would be taken in. In my case, I was trusting the label and not taking time to actually look at the images the dealer provided. Here is what I should of taken note of:
Circles Indicate Areas Discussed Below
This is a rather poor attempt to reproduce the shadings seen in bingata-style dyeing. If you will look closely at the detail shot to the left, you will see that it is simply a cluster of coarse dots, and not at all the delicate shading of a true brush stroke.
Poor Attempt at Mimicking Shading
To the right is also a poor attempt at trying to look like hand shading, but even worse, notice how radically the registration is off between the orange and the rust. This cannot happen in bingata since the rice paste is protecting the background and both the rust and the orange would be applied to exactly the same area along the edge of the resist.
Poor Registration
Here again, poor registration. Since it is the stencil and the paste that determine the lines of a bingata-dyed textile, you cannot wind up with accidental mismatches such as this.
Poor Registration
In this detail, some of the white seems to have been filled in with a lavender dye. This actually is a technique employed in bingata, it is just that in this case you can see how uneven the area is covered, indicating that the purple wicked or had some bleed-through.

In the end, there is just nothing quite like being able to hold the fabric in both hands, and examine it from the front and the back, satisfying several senses at the same time.
Dye Migration
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