Visiting the Bengala artisan
- December 14, 2020Report
To speak frankly, we recognized a man as a god of poverty. We saw him for the first time in 15 years. What made us surprised was he looked like a hermit. The man, Tomehiko Nakajima, worked as a part-time worker15 years ago at Taishoboseki. He also managed to earn daily cash income to look after his apprentice by holding down two jobs.
In Habikino-city, emperors’ burial grounds, Mozu-Furuichi Tomb Clusters as one of the world heritages, are famous. Nakajima Industries in Habikino-city faced the transitional period from Bengala-painting to Bengala-dyeing. In short, Bengala is iron oxide. Considering the sophisticated Bengala-paintings performances such as repelling pesticides, preventing the house from decaying, and weatherproofing, durability, it had been used as painting materials for temples and Japanese-style houses since ancient times in Japan.
Nakajima families had been working on Bengala-painting as a family-own business since their previous generation like the others. However, as a result of the flow of the times, the number of Bengala-painting houses decreased as it takes time and effort. After the Hanshin-Awaji huge earthquake, the dramatic tipping point had been reached. Rather than the conventional construction method, two-by-four systems, the timber-framed wall method, had become increasingly been adopted to the construction of houses. Two-by-four systems are referred to as the systems, which assure the earthquake-resistant ant structure.
The increase of chamfered houses that adopts two-by-four systems caused the elimination of the use of Bengala paint in constructing houses.
The Bengala is not only healthy but also environmentally-friendly stuff.
Therefore, Mr. Nakajima believed that the Bengala itself is indispensable culture, so he did not give up on the Bengala because of his strong passion. While the trend of Bengala painting was waning, Mr. Nakajima struggled to find a way to utilize the Bengala for dyeing instead of painting going forward.
If he is going to make the Bengala-dyeing, he reckons there is no way to compromise regarding color variations. A solid red color is absolutely not an option for him. Since then, Mr. Nakajima’s development of the Bengala-dyeing began. Currently, the natural Bengala-dyeing, “the beauty of ancient color”, has 23 color varieties. Each of them has a warm and deep color.
There is an increasing tendency of many consumers to call for safety and security. Thus, these people are becoming interested in the Bengala, the natural dyeing certified as the OEKO-TEX. The OEKO-TEX is the safety certificate of fiber. Many specialists, artists, and other ordinary people tend to demand the Bengala-dyeing due to its’ needs that they want to enjoy dyeing.
Taishoboseki has been spinning the safe and secure Bengala-dyeing threads made from organic cotton likewise. These threads project rich color.
The man we saw the first time in 15 years looked like a hermit with a white long bear. However, he was indeed a devoted person to the Bengala as if his heart was like burning iron.
By Ms. Sakaguchi, a member of SDGs committee