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 Post subject: Zhuang jacket
PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 10:41 am 
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I thought that I would share with forum members a gem of a jacket which has just come into my collection. It came as Zhuang from:
Quote:
“Guangnan area, Wenshan county, Yunnan province. Guangnan is very adjacent to Guangxi Province. Female jackets here are normally made of hand woven shiny cloth. Open on the right or in the middle. (This one is open in the middle). Ladies wear the jacket with long pleated skirt during festival or special occasions. The metal ornaments on the jackets are made of an alloy of tin and silver (less than 30% percent). This jacket is about 30 years old.”
I don’t know if the location is correct – but it does seem to be where the pickers are at the moment.

I bought this jacket in the totally undisciplined way in which my collection has been assembled – because I fell in love with it as fine example of a range of traditional techniques creating a garment from the original raw materials using handed down skills beautifully executed. Perhaps at first glance it might not attract attention – it has a minimum of showing embroidery although the metal smith’s skills might cause a second glance.

I think that the indigo cloth is hand-spun, hand-woven and dyed from natural indigo, including the lining. There is interesting calendering on the surface of the jacket which may have an added substance such as egg white. What caught my eye here were the parallel lines down the calendaring. These owe nothing to stitching or any other visible application.

The bottom edge of the jacket, next to the embroidery, has two hand-woven braids applied with, I think, a thread of silk between. There is also a thin band of couched metal. All the stitching is by hand even that regular stitching which looks as if it could be by machine. The cut of the jacket is attractive and somewhat reminiscent of the Hani woman’s jacket in thread http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... php?t=1003 The thread also has a photo of a Zhuang couple from Guangxi and some similarity is apparent. This seems to be one of the right side opening jackets which the dealer I bought from refers to above.

I know very little about the Zhuang and would be grateful for information and pointers to good references. Does anyone know of a photo of a similar jacket being worn?

I was asked recently to tell someone what I was particularly looking for to add to my collection. Well, I have certain focuses but really this is the essence of what I am looking for – something beautifully executed which catches my eye. Not, I am afraid, the way to build a solid collection but it gives me pleasure and keeps me on my toes as I try to add to my knowledge and experience. Some years ago I was asked why I did not collect fine imperial style textiles from China or Japan but was attracted to far more everyday clothing of humble origin (not that this jacket is for every day, clearly it is a festival garment and meant to show off skills and wealth within its community). This garment has been made by the family of, and possibly the person herself for whom it was made, although it might be their mother. For me this adds to its charm rather than splendid garments made by professional embroiders. The silver decorations were probably made by a metal smith in the community – I love the butterflies down the front – although they might be made not by a Zhuang but by a man from another ethnic group who made such decorative items for many different minority groups in his region.


Attachments:
File comment: front of jacket
001.jpg
001.jpg [ 56.55 KiB | Viewed 11634 times ]
File comment: back of jacket
014.jpg
014.jpg [ 53.9 KiB | Viewed 11634 times ]
File comment: decorations at the front of the jacket
003.jpg
003.jpg [ 67.42 KiB | Viewed 11634 times ]
File comment: detail of one of two metal discs and dongles applied to the back of the jacket
017.jpg
017.jpg [ 50.53 KiB | Viewed 11634 times ]
File comment: Detail of bottom edge of back of jacket showing the 2 applied hand woven braids, embroidery, calendering, couched metal thread and metal discs
022.jpg
022.jpg [ 64.31 KiB | Viewed 11634 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 4:21 pm 
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Pamela,

What an absolutely lovely jacket. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

The lines on your jacket are especially interesting. I don't think I've seen this before. It almost gives the impression of padded leather!

From what I can remember, the Zhuang are China's most populous minority group. They have also been one of the more successful groups in assimilating into Han culture, with representative populations in all of China's major cities.

Weaving seems to be the Zhuang's strong point. They were employed by the imperial courts to produce brocade, often using it to pay tributes as well. Their wedding and baby blankets are extraordinarily rich and complex (I recall Susan has a wonderful collection of them on her site), standing in stark contrast to the subtle beauty of this relatively simply decorated jacket.

I will keep my eyes and ears open for any more information regarding this style of clothing or the Zhuang in general.


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 Post subject: other zhuang jackets
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 7:01 pm 
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Location: france
Bonjour Pamela

As I said in my message, congratulations for this jacket got after a hard battle on a well known on line auction site !
So here are the jackets you don't catch !

I like particularly those jackets because of there very "modern" look, with a very fashionable taste. There is one particularly elegant in the exhibition in the Clermont Museum, the curator has chosen this jacket for the poster of the exhibition. As you can see on the catalog this jacket has different shape of sleaves in comparison with the four shown here (if you can scan the picture from the catalog, others could apreciate the difference.
On this type of jacket what I particularly appreciate is a kind of boldness. About yours I find the design a little bit too "heavy", with too much metal decoration. But however it is a good piece !


Attachments:
JACKET02.jpg
JACKET02.jpg [ 18.43 KiB | Viewed 11589 times ]
JACKET02_BACK.jpg
JACKET02_BACK.jpg [ 18.19 KiB | Viewed 11589 times ]
JACKET03.jpg
JACKET03.jpg [ 115.46 KiB | Viewed 11589 times ]
JACKET03_BACK.jpg
JACKET03_BACK.jpg [ 94.56 KiB | Viewed 11589 times ]
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 Post subject: Zhuang following
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 7:04 pm 
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Here are two pictures of an other one. As you can see the seller is the same !


Attachments:
JACKET01.jpg
JACKET01.jpg [ 175.06 KiB | Viewed 11583 times ]
JACKET01_BACK.jpg
JACKET01_BACK.jpg [ 163.3 KiB | Viewed 11583 times ]
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 8:35 pm 
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Louis

Very many thanks for sharing your fine Zhuang jackets with us. I am sorry that I prevented your trio becoming a quartet! However, perhaps it is best to share such fine jackets so that more of us can appreciate them! I think that your No.1 is the jacket that you won and I lost! Interesting that, on this one, the round metal discs are sewn between the bottom triangles whereas on mine the round metal discs are around the collar and at the front edges at the breast line. There are variations in the application of metal work on your other jackets also.

Great to be able to see several jackets so that it is possible to understand general style and more individual preferences. It is interesting to see that all of them have the same 'stripe' in the application of the calendered (shiny) surface.

What we need now is to see photos of the jackets being worn...perhaps, eventually, we will be lucky!

Thanks again for sharing your collection with us.

Very best wishes,

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http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 1:10 pm 
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Long may collecting be undertaken with wild, passionate and undisciplined abandonment!
(mmmmm..... on second thoughts can we keep locality tags? :P )


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 Post subject: Online Zhuang resources
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 1:19 pm 
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For excellent online information pertaining to the Zhuang the work of Jeff Barlow: The Zhuang: A Longitudinal Study of Their History and Their Culture is indispensable.
This collection may be accessed using the following URL:
http://mcel.pacificu.edu/as/resources/zhuang/index.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 1:19 pm 
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yes, we want the locality tags but the problem is that often a textile does not come with one and, if it does, it may well be incorrect and so starts the magic mystery tour for a location or, at least, confirmation of a likely location!

I think the best items in my collection have often started as mysteries bought on impulse because they are super examples. Sometimes this starts a focus in the collection. At others it is just an interesting detour.

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 Post subject: Other jackets
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 7:45 am 
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Bonjour Pamela

Here are two other jackets that could be from the same origin. The differences between the first we have shown are on the shape of the sleeves. Here the sleaves are broader and have a special ending. May be it is because of a different origine or because of a change in the fashion and in this case may be the jackets are older. The one with the white sleave endings is from the collection that is exhibited on the Clermont Museum and is labelled Zhuang, begining of the XX c. The one with the red sleave endings is mine. The museum ex as the same metal details than the 03 jacket. The round metal devices of the red one are near of yours. It seems that the Zhuang cloth makers have the possibility of playing with a limited numbers of models of metal device for addorning the jackets.

I hope those pictures can complete the documentation on those fine clothes.

Cordialement

Louis


Attachments:
jacket05-zw1.jpg
jacket05-zw1.jpg [ 49.63 KiB | Viewed 11447 times ]
jacket04_zw.jpg
jacket04_zw.jpg [ 47.07 KiB | Viewed 11447 times ]
jacket04_back_zw.jpg
jacket04_back_zw.jpg [ 43.69 KiB | Viewed 11447 times ]
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:23 am 
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Louis

How very excellent! So good to be able to draw together in this forum thread images of this group of jackets.

The sleeves of both your jacket 4 and 5 from the Clermont Museum are a very interesting shape - and so similar. If you could not see the sleeves of the earlier jackets on the thread and these two recently posted you would think them the same. I feel that the two posted today seem to be almost copying fashions from more formal court costumes. I feel that the earlier ones are possibly older in style and the later ones might be from families showing off their wealth and exposure to a wider world.

I feel a little bit guilty to have stopped you adding my jacket to your collection! However, I find it exciting to have 'opened a window' onto these fascinating group of textiles. Thank you so very much for sharing!

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http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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 Post subject: Query Zhuang?
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 11:33 am 
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Hi Louis
Examples such as that in the Clermont Museum and your own red sleeved jacket have, over the past year, also appeared in Taiwan. However, they were not designated as Zhuang but instead as Bouyei. I remember thinking that these represented a complete departure from anything I had seen and previously recognised as Bouyei although the restrained use of embroidery was carried through.
On page 110 of Jacqui Carey's fantastic book, Chinese Braid Embroidery ISBN 0952322560, there is an example of an identically cut jacket from the collection of Martin Conlan. Although it does have what appear to be silver fastners down the central jacket opening, there are no other silver embellishments. Here, again, the jacket is attributed to the Bouyei.


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 Post subject: Zhuang/Bouyei
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 12:20 pm 
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Bonjour Iain

I am not so familiar to the chinese geography. Could there be a geographical connexion between Zhuang and Bouyei peoples ? The difference of style between the two types (narrow/broad sleeves) seems to be too tiny to be an ethnic difference, maybe just a question of age or as sugested Pamela a question of social class among a same people.

Cordialement

Louis


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 4:26 pm 
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The Zhuang and Buyi are the same ethnic group. The Buyi are the "northern Zhuang" and inhabit south- southwestern Guizhou. (Qiannan & Qianxinan Prefectures) The different ethnic appellation is a result of the vagaries of ethnic classification after the founding of the People's Republic. The Zhuang in northern Guangxi also refer to themselves as "buyi" in their local language.

Steven

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 9:16 pm 
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Iain - Good eyes, good memory!!!

I have been in touch with Martin Conlan and have his permission to share with the forum the photo of his jacket shown in Chinese Braid Embroidery which you refer to above.

Martin says of the jacket:
Quote:
"As to it's provenance. It was bought from a dealer. I have subsequently seen others and have also been told they are Bouyei/Buyi. But as we all know unless we have sourced them directly we cannot be sure. The shape and style bear strong similarities to the newer ones we see called Zhuang, apart from the distinctive cuff shape. I have had mine a few years now. I also purchased it with another one with metal decorations attached, similar to Louis' pictures and very similar to yours (though with the distinctive cuff shape).

Mine is undoubtedly very old and is made of a gorgeous burnished indigo fine cloth. Age may even be the defining characteristic of the style, with the more recent pieces having adopted a simpler wider cuff, though keeping the strong flared shape.

Another point to bear in mind is the 'lending' of dress styles between different ethnic groups that live in the same proximity, something we see all the time.

Sorry I can't be more 'definite' on this one but I always find the grey areas more interesting anyway because they challenge us to look more closely at what we have."

I hope to see Martin at the Antique Textiles, Vintage Costumes & Tribal Art Fair in London on 8 Jun and he has promised to bring the jacket along. I look forward to having the opportunity to look at it closely.

The fine braiding on my jacket - albeit 2 rows placed in parallel lines and not twisted as on Martin's - was something that caught my eye on my own jacket when I saw it for the first time 'in the fabric'. Chinese Braid Embroidery has certainly made me much more sensitive to braids (and in admiration of them).

Martin's point about the proximity of different ethnic groups influencing dress styles is something that we have discussed on other threads and is certainly something we should bear in mind here. And yes, I certainly agree with him vive the 'grey areas'!


Attachments:
File comment: Fig 128 from Chinese Braid Embroidery by Jacqui Carey, photo courtesy Martin Conlan. "This Bouyei girl's jacket has a figure-of-eight' design running along the base edge. The braids are the same structure as JC1, and are less than 2mm wide."
Bouyei_jacket_MC.jpg
Bouyei_jacket_MC.jpg [ 70.9 KiB | Viewed 11299 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:36 pm 
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My apologies for being so dilatory in getting back to this thread with details of Martin's lovely 'Bouyei' jacket which he very kindly let me photograph at the tribal fair in London on 8 June. The workmanship on the jacket is very fine indeed and I ended up taken several close-ups to share with you. I have had to work out quite a jigsaw puzzle of the images against the whole photo in the Chinese Braid Embroidery book to decide where in the jacket each photo belongs!

I am very grateful to Martin for bringing the jacket to the fair and letting me photograph it - as well as enabling us both to enjoy sharing the joy of a very fine textile.


Attachments:
File comment: Detail of embroidery on satin sleeve of jacket
IMGP6357w.jpg
IMGP6357w.jpg [ 60.4 KiB | Viewed 10814 times ]
File comment: Detail of cuff where it joins satin top to sleeve showing embroidered trim
IMGP6355w.jpg
IMGP6355w.jpg [ 65.35 KiB | Viewed 10814 times ]
File comment: Detail of collar showing needle weaving trim and button fastening
IMGP6360w.jpg
IMGP6360w.jpg [ 70.77 KiB | Viewed 10814 times ]
File comment: Detail of front loop and metal button fastening
IMGP6354w.jpg
IMGP6354w.jpg [ 65.57 KiB | Viewed 10814 times ]
File comment: Bottom edging to jacket at right front side 'wing'
IMGP6358w.jpg
IMGP6358w.jpg [ 60.44 KiB | Viewed 10814 times ]
File comment: Detail of the edging around the bottom of the jacket - right front edge - including handmade braids
IMGP6353w.jpg
IMGP6353w.jpg [ 65.6 KiB | Viewed 10814 times ]

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