It is said that Hakata-ori was first introduced to Japan around 700 years ago, when Hakata local Mitsutaya Zaemon encountered it in China while studying there.
At that time, China was affected by a combination of Buddhist culture imported from India and China’s own theories of Thaoism and Confucianism, from which emerged a sophisticated spiritual culture, symbolised by Zen Buddhism.
It was during this period in China, that Hakata-ori first appeared, represented by a kind of pattern called kenjo-gara (献上柄).
With a Buddhist altar as its motif and a striped pattern synonymous with Confucianism, Kenjo-gara is considered a precious textile that symbolizes this long history of East Asian thought.
The kenjo in kenjo-gara means “gift”, and is named so because the Feudal Lord of Fukuoka at the time (Kuroda) would often use Hakata-ori as a gift for his administration.
Dokko (single-pronged vajra): A tool used in esoteric Buddhist practices. Has the meaning of dispelling evil of the mind.
Hanazara: A dish in which leaves and flowers are laid at sange memorial services for Buddah and Bosatsu (those on the bath to Buddhist enlightenment). Has the meaning of clearing out evil and purifying a physical place.
Shima: The thick string represent a parent, and the thin string a child. When the thick strings (parent) are on the outside of the thin strings (child), this shows the parent protecting the child. When the thin strings are on the outside, this represents the child respecting their parent.
Comprised mainly of silk threads, Hakata-ori is characterized by its sturdy texture and glossy finish, because of the way it is woven with a combination of thick weft threads and high density warp threads.
Furthermore, although Hakata-ori uses the same silk threads as Nishijin-ori from Kyoto, Hakata-ori is distinctive in the fact that the designs are almost made using warp threads.