|example of an 18-19thC Ryuku Bingata national heritage piece.|
The basics process of the two techniques are essentially the same: A stencil is carved out of heavy paper, this is used to apply a gooey resist paste onto the fabric, the paste dries and the exposed fabric is dyed, then the resist paste is removed to reveal white un-dyed areas.
|hint as to why I like bingata.. birds! bingata designs often feature brightly coloured birds in flight|
For one thing, traditional bingata is extravagantly colourful! (Bingata actually translates as "coloured patterns") Think reds, deep yellows, greens, purples and blues. I'd like to think this is due in part to Okinawa's tropical island climate and the subsequent vivid high-saturation flowers and light they have there. (it's currently a Japanese prefecture but it's quite far south from main island Japan.) But it's probably more to do with the Chinese influence on the visual language of the old Ryukyu Kingdom and the fact that pigments were often imported from China. Plant dyes made from local plants like fukugi and Okinawan indigo were used as well as pigments like yellow ochre, vermillion and indigo were used. Apparently yellow was reserved for (then named) Ryukyu Kingdom royalty.
|various colourful bingata patterns. they are often very very detailed too!|
Another feature of bingata is the decorative patterns which often have large unconnected open areas which you don't see in old katazome.
Let me explain with a picture of the stencils used for in both techniques.
|Fine traditional katazome stencils, carving blades and punches.|
|more open Katazome stencils also existed and these often had a fine silk mesh applied to ease paste application, as you can just see in the right image.|
Now let's look at some bingata stencils. さて、紅型の方は？
|bingata stencils with large open areas, 'floating' elements and fine sweeping lines.|
|can you see the gradations on the petals and feather details?|
|this is how the gradations are done. a quick sweep of darker dye with a brush then smudging it hard into the fabric with a stiff bristled brush.|
The feature of bingata that I am most in awe of and often confounded by is the use of "fuse-nori", that is, a second process of very carefully covering previously dyed areas with another layer of resist paste and once dry, dyeing the background colour. The bingata patterns are often so fine and detailed and whilst the entire pattern may not be covered with fuse nori (allowing layering of colours) the time and patience involved in covering over all those tiny design parts gets some serious respect from me. 紅型の行程で一番尊敬しているのが「伏せ糊」の作業です。「伏せ糊」というのは、背景の地色が染めれるために、一回染めた模様（又はその一部）をまた糊でかぶせていくの仕事です。ものすごい細かい仕事で、時間がかなりかかりそうです。でも、この段階があるため、また別の雰囲気が出せます。
See these examples of fuse nori and what it allows you to achieve. The white areas have been preserved with the second layer of paste. 伏せ糊を使えば、こういう感じで染められます。
|bingata patterns where a second layer of masking paste has allowed a background colour to be dyed too|