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Overview of the Ryūkyūs

Kristine M. Kamiya

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The 160 islands of the Ryūkyū archipelago extend from the southern shores of Japan to Taiwan. The forty-nine inhabited islands are divided into groups: Okinawa, Miyako, Yaeyama, Senkaku, and Daito. Inhabited for at least thirty thousand years, most of their history involved being caught in power struggles between China and Japan, then between Japan and the United States. Ryūkyūan dress is regularly overlooked as having specific identity, possibly partly because the traditional ryūsō (robe), is co

Shuri Textile Manufacture

Ginko Le Bars Miyahira

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The Okinawan archipelago is the only tropical region in Japan; the islands’ abundant vegetation provides suitable material for weaving and dyeing. From 1429 to 1879, the Ryūkyū kingdom united Okinawa, governing under the dynastic title Shō. In the early seventeenth century, Okinawa came under Japanese control. However, the Japanese government found it expedient to continue recognizing the Shō dynasty, enabling the Ryūkyū kingdom to continue trading abroad. In the nineteenth century Okinawa was an

Body Modification: Tattooing

Mieko Yamada

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Tattooing is a type of body adornment inscribed on the skin. In East Asia, where Confucianism strongly influences many cultures, there are multiple meanings of the tattooing practice: cosmetic purposes, social status, tribal customs, criminal association, and crime punishment. However, Confucian doctrine claims that bodies are given to people by their parents and that intentionally hurting bodies is contrary to the Confucian concept of filial piety. Therefore, although tattooed bodies are acknowl

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