On May 15, 2022, Okinawa prefecture celebrates the 50th anniversary of its return to Japan.
To commemorate this major milestone in Okinawan history, Wancher is thrilled to introduce you to another traditional-art-infused fountain pen - Dream Pen Ryukyu Tsuikin.
A brief history of Okinawa
The Ryukyu Islands first appeared in the ancient Chinese history book entitled "Sui Shu” around 607. After almost one and a half decades of going through the Chinese tributary system, two dynasties, and the Satsuma invasion, Ryukyu Kingdom was demolished by Meiji Government in 1879, and Okinawa prefecture was born. Yet again, when the Pacific War ended in 1945, Okinawa was once again parted from Japan as the U.S limitary remained under their governance for the following 27 years.
On May 15, 1972, Okinawa was officially returned to Japan, marking a new milestone in both Okinawa and Japan's history.
The origin of Ryukyu Tsuikin art
Despite the complicated history, the culture and traditional crafts, especially lacquering, fortunately, have flourished, preserved, and continued until today. Old documents record that Okinawan lacquerware appeared as soon as 1427, with a purchase record from Emperor Xuanzong of the Ming Dynasty. After the establishment of the First Ryukyu Dynasty (1429), the Kaizuri Bugyosho (a magistrate's office for lacquerware production) was founded.
In Okinawa, where politics and culture are deeply connected, lacquerware and lacquer ornaments were indispensable for ceremonies and rituals, not only for royalties and warrior families but also for local communities. Especially, after the invasion by the Satsuma Domain, the need of lacquerware increases as they need to tribute to both the Tokugawa shogunate and Chinese emperors. Therefore, the Ryukyu Kingdom put the Kaizuri Bugyosho under its direct control to strengthen lacquerware production.
During this period - the highest peak of Ryukyu lacquer, Ryukyu governors even sent craftsmen to China several times and brought in various lacquering techniques. One of those craftsmen - Higa Josho has developed the Okinawan-own technique - Tsuikin.
How Tsuikin art was made
Dream Pen Tsuikin - Twin Dragons
On our first release in 2022, we presented you three Dragon models:
- Tsuikin - Twin Dragons - Black Urushi
- Tsuikin - Twin Dragons - Red Urushi
- Tsuikin - Twin Dragons - Urushi So-hari (Base: Nashiji Tsuikin-mochi)
Wancher Tsuikin fountain pens came with the motif of Twin Dragons, which are made with Tsuikin-mochi mixed with real platinum and gold powder. The Twin Dragons are legendary auspicious creature in Okinawan mythology and folktales besides Shisa (another mythical symbol of Okinawan culture).
We hope that this symbol will deliver the cultural value of Okinawa as well as good luck to the fountain pens' owners. Holding this pen in your palms, we can feel the rich Okinawan history running through your veins and feel closer to the culture of Okinawa.
Dream Pen Tsuikin - Hibiscus
Wancher's second series of Dream Fountain pen Ryukyu Tsuikin Hibiscus beautifully expresses the tropical flower hibiscus using the technique of Ryukyu lacquerware, a traditional craft of Okinawa.
Original craftwork of Okinawa
Tsuikin technique is unique to Ryukyu lacquerware and has a three-dimensional decoration that is stunning. There are two types of colors, one with a red hibiscus design on a black lacquer and the other with a yellow hibiscus design on a red vermilion lacquer. Both are products that make you feel the vividness and gorgeousness of Okinawa.
Okinawa Lacquer Craft Co., Ltd. has inherited the traditional craft technique of lacquer that has been handed down in Okinawa Prefecture, and its technology and artistry are highly valued in the world
Hibiscus is an important flower for the people of Okinawa, as it gives them a sense of tropical atmosphere.
In Okinawa, the Hibiscus flower can be enjoyed all year round although its life span is actually for one day. This makes people relate to Hibiscus as a flower with delicate beauty.