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Choma, a Treasure of Miyako Island are Made into Modern & Stylish Choma Tassels Created by ORSA
post : 2019.08.06 06:00
For this article, I visited a studio on Irabu Island where ORSA makes her wonderful accessories. Her creations are made with Choma, a material that gives off more shine and charm the more you wear them.
Choma is a type of nettle plant from the Urticaceae family, and has been cultivated on Miyako Island since long ago and been revered as a sacred plant since ancient times. Threads made by hand from Choma is also used to weave the Miyako Jofu, a textile that has been nationally designated as an important intangible cultural asset.
Choma thread are all made by experienced professionals and the painstaking process alone makes this material exceptional. First, the stems are steamed and the outer layer is peeled off, then the fibers from under these layers are collected and split by nimble fingers and nails, and are connected through expert movements of the fingertips. This is why Choma threads cannot be mass produced and its scarcity value is greatly heightened.
ORSA came up with the idea to create tassels using the precious Choma threads because she “wanted to create something special made with materials that are unique to Miyako Island.” Up until she came across the Choma threads, ORSA made earrings and other accessories from the horns of Miyako bulls. She set out on a new challenge with the Choma threads.
The blue hues on the tassels were inspired from the spectacular seas of Miyako, and she uses Indian indigo to dye them. “I actually wanted to use Ryukyu indigo, but the shade of blue from the Ryukyu indigo was too dark to express the seas of Miyako. Indian indigo gave a lighter and refreshing shade of blue that matched the color of the ocean surrounding Miyako,” she explained.
Choma threads are supple and the more you use them, the stronger they get. Apparently, the natural fibers from Choma plants are the strongest among natural materials, and when wet, the threads are even stronger. The material also shines the more you touch them from oils on your hands and fingers, so the longer you use them, the more charming and attractive it gets.
ORSA explained that the threads tend to get a little frizzy when not worn and touched for a while, but no need to worry. Just spray some water and gently stroke the threads with your hands and fingers, and they’re just as new again.
“I made the Choma threads long, so you can cut them to however long you want them,” says ORSA…but it would take a little courage to cut something so beautiful!
The tassels are simple yet sophisticated, and you can wear them casually. You can coordinate them easily with whatever you’re wearing and it adds a refreshing, breezy touch to your whole outfit.
Accessories that you can enjoy over the years and see their changes is truly delightful, don’t you think?
Address: 1F 106-2 Irabu, Irabu, Miyakojima City, Okinawa
Hours: Thursdays & Fridays from 13:00 to 17:00 (Please call for other times)
*May be closed irregularly to participate in events, etc.
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Sachiko Tachi