The origin of Kasuri is ancient India. The method was imported to Southeast Asia, and reached to Ryukyu, current Okinawa prefecture, in 14th century. Since then, the culture and the nature in Ryukyu cultivated the original style of Kasuri, and Ryukyu Kasuri became the origin of Kasuri kimonos produced in other areas in Japan such as Satsuma, Kurume, Yonezawaryukyu, and Iyo. Currently, Ryukyu Kasuri is mainly produced in Haebaru town, southern Okinawa.
Kasuri method means, as mentioned in the article for Oshima Tsumugi, to weave clothes using dyed thread. When the thread is dyed some parts are stay undyed or dyed in different colors so that patterns are made when weaved. Thus, producing Kasuri requires lot of precision handworks.
Ryukyu Kasuri is distinguished from its variation of patterns. Running water, swallows, and Igeta (two pairs of intersecting parallel lines forming a diamond-shaped figure) are famous, but there is approximately 600 patterns which artisans have created. “Oezu cho” (Pattern Book), inherited from the Kingdom of Ryukyu, is the asset which the artisans back to when they need ideas. To make the patterns appeared, the dyeing is calculated and strings are tied to some parts of thread so that the parts remain undyed.
The weaving is also done on handloom. Only 1 to 2 mater (3.3 to 6.6 feet) of fabric is able to be produced.
Ryukyu Kasuri was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1983.