The seigaiha, or wave, is a pattern of layered concentric circles creating arches, symbolic of waves or water and representing surges of good luck. It can also signify power and resilience. The wave symbol or motif was originally used in China on ancient maps to depict the sea. In Japan its earliest appearance was on the clothing of a 6th century haniwa (funerary terracotta clay figure).
It continued to be used as a symbol on clothing, particularly kimonos, for over a thousand years. The name originates from the gagaku ancient court dance called Seigaiha, in which the dancers wear costumes with this pattern. There is even a scene in The Tale of Genji where Genji dances the Seigaiha.
This fabric uses a weave technique known as Nishijin Ori. Originating in Heian-kyōto over 1200 years ago, Nishijin weaving is known for its highly-decorative and finely-woven designs, created through the use of tedious and specialised production processes. It is well-regarded for the high quality and craftsmanship of the resulting fabrics, commonly used for high-quality obi and kimono. In 794, Heian-kyō became the new capital city of Japan, with the Imperial Court and the aristocracy moving to the city as a result; due to this, the production of nishijin-ori increased in order to supply the Court and the aristocracy.
After experiencing a surge in demand after the wars, and later on a decline due to crop shortages, and the moving of Japan's capital the production of nishijin-ori was halted until a resurgence in 1872. The production of nishijin-ori began to flourish once again, following a trip by some weavers to Europe in order to learn from the European weaving trade. During this trip, the weavers learned new techniques from the people of Europe, and adapted to the use of European weaving methods and machinery, such as the production of the Jacquard loom and the flying shuttle. By 1898, the Nishijin textile trade was well developed and encompassed the technology shared by the Europeans.