Kumejima is a small island located in western Okinawa. It is said that, around the end of 14th century, a leader in this island who was called “Douno Ohiya” visited Min dynasty in China and learned about sericulture. This is the beginning of weaving in this island.
And it is considered as the beginning of Tsumugi technique which uses twisted thread for weaving in Japan. Tsumugi fabric produced in Japan is thus very tasteful in a quiet way, and suite for people who truly love kimono.
The production of Kumejima Tsumugi is mainly consisted of designing (choosing patterns), dyeing, and weaving, and all of them are done by one artisan. Since Ryukyu dynasty, they have handed down the traditional ways of production. By weaving the fabric by one who designed, the result becomes more careful and completed.
For dyeing, usually natural resources such as smilax, umbellate, and Ryukyu persimmon are used, so most of the materials are produced inside Kumejima. The last step of dyeing involve mudding, and this is too able to be done.
Kumejima Tsumugi was therefore treated as capitation tax for long time. After the end of Meiji period (1868-1912), this tax was abolished and people started to weave for their own. The production became even more thriving in the early 20th century may show the joy of the artisans.
The basic color now is black and brown. This is the reason Kumejima Tsumugi can be enjoyed through three generations by changing sashes.
Kumejima Tsumugi was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1975.