Records indicate that Bashofu weaving existed in the Ryukyu Islands as far back as the 1500’s…
The earliest written evidence is dated 1546 from Pak Son, a shipwrecked Korean who reached the Ryukyus in 1542 where he stayed for four years before returning to Korea. Pak Son wrote the following:
“The larger trees are the size of a house pillar. These are harvested, and the outermost skin stripped off. The sheaths inside are sorted into three grades. The fineness or coarseness of the finished cloth depends on whether the fiber is taken from the outer or inner layers. The innermost layer yields the thinnest and most lustrous fiber, and its color is as pure as snow. It is incomparable…” *
How amazing it is that the harvesting, processing and weaving of bashofu cloth has not changed since 1546. Bashofu weaving is the same even in this ever changing world of ours.
* Ikeya Machiko, Uchida Akiko, Takase Kyoko, eds., 2005, Chosen ocho jitsuroko Ryukyu shusei, 2 vols., Okinawa: Yoju Shorin.