Representative Plants Used as Natural Dye in Okinawa
The vegetation nurtured by the soil of Okinawa provides its power to create natural dyes to give our threads various shades of Okinawan colors.

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● Hues of Blue:

Ryukyu Ai (Ryukyu Indigo)

The stems and leaves of the plant are clipped between summer and autumn, and indigo paste, or mud-indigo known as doro-ai, is produced and used as dye. In the past, the Ryukyu indigo plants were cultivated in various regions throughout Okinawa, but presently, these native species of plants are mostly grown in the northern region of Okinawa Island, in the Izumi area of Motobu town. Okinawa’s own distilled spirit, awamori, as well as starch syrup and alkaline agents are naturally fermented with the Ryukyu indigo in special bottles.

● Hues of Yellow:

Fukugi (Garcinias)

Fukugi plants are planted as protective hedges, to shield seaside homes from the salty winds and tides. Its bark, branches and leaves are used to produce the dyes.

● Hues of Reddish-Brown:

Okinawa Saru-tori-ibara (Smilax china var. kuru)

The name derives from the thorns on the stems of the plant, where monkeys (saru) get caught. The round fruit is approximately 1cm in diameter and ripens to a bright red color. Auburn dye is made from the extracts from the plant’s underground stems.

Sharinbai (Yeddo Hawthorn; Rhaphiolepis indica var. umbellate)

The tips of the branches of this fragrant plant are full of blooming white flowers and the fruit ripens to a blackish-purple color. The bark, stem and roots have high tannin content.

● Other:

Getto (Pink Porcelain Lilies, Shell Ginger, Shell Flowers; Alpinia zerumbet)

In Okinawa, the leaves are used to wrap mochi, or sticky rice cakes, for the traditional event called Muchi which is held on December 8th of the lunar calendar. Muchi is an event where locals pray for the well-being of their children and other family members. The plant, with its distinctive fragrance, is also used to produce essential oils.

From the collection and processing of natural fibers which are extracted from plants to make the dyes, to the weaving itself, every step of the creation of Chibana-Hanaori is done completely by hand.

◆ The Dyeing Process

・ Ryukyu indigo and awamori are combined,mixed
  and naturally fermented.
・ The threads are dyed numerous times.
・ Ryukyu indigo in the fermentation stage.

The plants that are used to make the dyes for Chibana-Hanaori are collected in the woods in the area, including those in the Chibana Gusuku castle ruins, which still remains in this district.