Textile of the Week: 201108 Oborobingata
Oborobingata! Oboro () means in the mist. What a wonderful name for such an old and treasured process. This example is real bingata.

According to the Way of Kimono Unabridged Dictionary of Kimono Terms (装道きもの用語大辞典), oboro(bin)gata is one type of Okinawan bingata, making use of two stencils for the figurative work. By combining two different stencils, one pictorial and one small patterned, a delicately nuanced pattern is achieved… (沖繩の紅型の一種。色入り小紋の二枚型。絵模様と小紋を組み合わせ、二枚型で美しく精緻に仕上げた染め物…)
Next a paste made from mochiko (餅粉) and nuka (小紋糠) was pushed through the stencil and onto the silk, leaving behind the reverse image.
First a stencil was carved out of hand-made mulberry paper (渋紙) and lacquered.
Natural-pigment dyes were applied over the dried paste, one color at a time, using tiny brushes to build up layers of color and shadings.
The paste, and any dye sitting on top of it,  was washed off with water to expose the crisp dyed areas. Remember–only the exposed areas of the silk became stained (dyed).
Textile of the Week Sample 201108–Oboro Bingata
Sample 201108-Oboro Bingata $18 plus postage and tax.($12 even for subscribers. For more information about subscriptions, click on this text.)
But wait! Only one stencil was used to create this fabric–hey! What’s the deal?

The information that comes with a bolt, and the Japanese are generally very good about including some information, is very useful in what it tells you. But so often there is much that it does not tell you. As new techniques come to the fore, ever-clearer labels are needed to distinguish processes. As an example: Before synthetic dyes became commonly used, it was not necessary to label fabric as naturally dyed, since that was the only thing going at the time. Just as before the widespread use of pesticides, it wasn’t necessary to label any food as organic, since everything simply was.

Beginning in the 1970s, when standards were introduced to define what would qualify as a traditional craft, artists began to more clearly label their work. This was partly to distinguish it from imitation pieces making their way into the market and to assure the customer of the quality of the goods. Many artists and established dyehouses elected not to do this, either because it was a bother or because they chose to rely upon their own good reputation in selling to a very select clientele.
The artist could have stopped here and this would have been a very fine piece, but instead he or she decided to add a little more mood. To do so, using an artist’s eye, sections are targeted for a second pasting called fusenori (伏糊). The fusenori is most often applied with a cone that looks much like a pastry tube.
This second pasting will serve the same function as the first–to prevent specific areas from being dyed. However, in this case the artist pasted over the center of select flowers and the veins of a few maple leaves to create what will become a rhythm of light. Over this, a layer of soft lavender dye was applied.
Once the dye set, the fusenori was washed out leaving us with the beautifully dyed piece you see as this week’s selection.

I hope that you’re wondering by now how this ties in with the definition at the top of this page. I believe that the definition should not have mentioned using two stencils, but kept the concept of two layers. As it turns out, it far more common to find oborobingata in which cone applied fusenori was used to create the second layer, rather a stencil used to apply a second layer of paste. The second application of color over what had been the blank white silk, while retaining some areas of white to highlight the difference, is what the mist (oboro) part of the name describes.
Label at End of Bolt 201109 – おぼろ (oboro) 紅型 (bingata)
The label appearing on this bolt tells us that it is oborobingata. What my eyes see in this piece does not match the definition at the top of this page.
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