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Yaeyama Minsa (narrow cotton fabric)


Minsa is said to come from Afghanistan, and developed its uniqueness in Okinawa.

Min named after Men, cotton in Japanese, and sa named after Semai, narrow in Japanese. It is a type of fabric, which is thick and hard, used as sash belt or obi.

Yaeyama Minsa is one of them in Yaeyama islands, especially produced in Taketomi, Iriomote, and Ishigaki islands. The weavers with certain skills create the fabric by hands.

The characteristic is very clear, the pattern. There is only one pattern, which is a combination of five boxes and four boxes. The color is originally indigo blue and white (Kasuri technique, protecting from dyeing is used here), but recently various colors are used.

The origin is said to date back to about 400 years ago, and the further origin of its name and style is in the ancient times, when a girl who were proposed by a boy gave him back a narrow cotton fabric as Yes. The episode added a meaning to pray one’s longevity and happiness.

Now this simple but meaningful pattern is known as happy charm, too. Yaeyama Minsa is adopted to create clothes, bags, and purses, and to some interior goods. Some fans make good-luck ribbons of this pattern. Yaeyama Minsa is truly loved by people.

Yaeyama Minsa was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1989.

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