This article explores the little-known history of bingata, a textile technology of resist dyeing developed in the Ryukyu Islands (modern-day Okinawa, Japan) during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries and later, promoted as traditional folk craft under Japanese colonialism. Located at the center of tributary and trading networks linking Northeast and Southeast Asia and, after 1600, Europe, the Ryukyus were an integral part of the early modern world. Tracing the circulation of Prussian blue from Europe to Asia, this article shows how shared materials and techniques afforded by trade networks linked the craft work of Ryukyu craftsmen to the experimental science of European dyer-chemists. In doing so, this article challenges longstanding binaries that oppose West and non-West, science and craft knowledge, and traditional folk crafts and modern technology. It argues that the reciprocal relationship between materials and techniques underpinned the knowledge-making practices of both Ryukyu dyers and European dyer-chemists.


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pp. 87-117
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