Treasures from John’s Collection: Oborobinagata
After writing the other segments of John’s Attic, I realized that I probably should present an example of real oborobingata from my collection…after a brief moment of panic, thinking that I might not have one, I went through several dozen Ryuukyuu bingata pieces and actually found one!

The colors are very delicate and it is in nearly perfect condition.
Various View of an Iris Garden, Oborobinata Style 朧紅型
The above view will give you an idea of the flow of the motif. Notice how it is not simply an overall repeat–the elements of the design are plotted to reappear in each panel to form horizontal bands of flora.
Keep in mind that the kimono is not dyed after, but before it is constructed. Therefore the placement of the various elements of a design must be well  planned ahead of time. The fabric is  stretched on equipment called harite (張手) to pull it tight lengthwise, and then sticks called shinshi (抻子) are added selvage to selvage to help form a trampoline-like, taut surface upon which to work. In this manner the entire bolt of silk is suspended throughout the dyeing process. In this shot the craftsman is applying the background color with a brush called a jizomebake (地染刷毛).
Old-Time Craftsmen Applying Dye to Silk Stretched on Harite and Shinshi
Jizomebake 地染刷毛
These are all natural dyes on onishibo chirimen (鬼皺縮緬)–a heavily textured Japanese crepe. The dyes used on this piece are virtually identical to those I used in my piece, Felicitations. The waves are actually dyed with indigo pigment, but with the salmon-colored overlay of dye it takes on a grey appearance.
Take a look at the close up of the detail, below left. Perhaps it gives you a better appreciation of the texture of the chirimen silk. Also take note of the two layers of color. The paste covering the background was applied first, the exposed areas of the silk dyed, and the paste washed away. During the second phase, peculiar to oborobingata, additional paste was applied to selected areas and a wash of color brushed over all of the exposed areas. You can see in this image the areas of white and clean colors that were given refuge by this second coat of paste, the fusenori. Notice how the last coat of color tinted all of the dyes that weren’t protected by the fusenori and at the same time dyed the background pink.
Detail of Oborobingata Iris Garden
Notice the clean white and the vibrant colors of the areas protected by the fusenori.
A seemingly endless range of colors may be achieved with just a few basic dyes and the proper brush.
And the last detail I would like to point out is the delicate shading that may be achieved through the use of pigments and traditional brushes called surikomibake (摺込刷毛).
Surikomibake 摺込刷毛
copyright John Marshall, 2013
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