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Saga Nishiki History


The origin of Saga Nishiki brocade can be traced back to the latter years of the Edo Period, around the 1820’s.  It is said that the wife of Lord Nabeshima, known as ‘Princess Kashioka’, developed the idea one day when she was lying ill in bed.  She was deeply impressed with the beautiful ‘Ajiro’ pattern on the ceiling of her room, so she ordered one of her attendants to create some practical using the design.


Following its initial creation, only noble ladies of the court wove this style of brocade, and  this tradition continued until the fourteenth generation of the Nabeshima lineage (Lord Naotada).  However, the Saga Nishiki tradition began to die out towards the beginning of the Meiji Period (1868-1912).  Regretting the loss of the precious art form, a contemporary politician from Saga, Shigenobu Okuma, reintroduced and helped to revive Saga Nishiki is amongst the noble class at the time.


Originally, Saga Nishiki was known as ‘Kashima Nishiki’.  It was renamed ‘Saga Nishiki’ when it was exhibited at the Japan-England Exhibition in London in 1910.  There it won widespread admiration, and came to be regarded as an exceptional Japanese handicraft.  It was from this period on that ‘Saga Nishiki’ became the common name for the art form.

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