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 Post subject: Is this a Li jacket?
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 9:58 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 05, 2005 9:45 pm
Posts: 13
I bought this jacket in a Miao shop in Shanghai last year, and the proprietor could not speak any English to tell me its origin. Last week I was in Thailand and saw (and bought) a similar textile (a flat covering cloth, not a jacket), and the proprietor told me it came from the Li people of Hainan Island. Does that seem correct?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 9:16 am 
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Location: Canterbury, UK
Jeff

I have not had a chance to consult my Li reference material but, if I had seen this jacket, I would have immediately thought that it was Li. The ikat and the woven stripes are quite typical Li and appear in different sub-groups. I don't think that I have yet seen a jacket/coat with both the ikat and the stripes. I have in skirts and I have a shorter jacket with just the warp stripes. It is possible that some close investigation of Li photos may find the combination and I look forward to having the chance to search. I know that others have similar Li reference material so they may be able to assist you earlier than I am likely to be able to do.

Interesting that it is such a long coat rather than jacket. Don't know if it might have been a shaman's coat. In my mind I have a photo of a shaman wearing a similar coat in rather a ragged condition. Your coat looks in good condition.

Thailand is quite a source of Li textiles (although not cheap) and many of my pieces have been sourced in Thailand - both Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I love to play the identification game of thinking 'yes, that's Li' and diving for the tag to see if I am correct. I usually am because the textile techniques seem to have a clearly identifyable style which say 'Li'. As to which sub-group that is a much bigger challenge because it is hard to find literature which goes that far.

A nice find!

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Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 10:12 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2003 6:34 pm
Posts: 393
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Jeff-
I've seen several jackets (shorter than yours) and blankets like this in Guizhou, China and was told that they were Li. I cannot, however, find any photos of them in my big Li book. Will keep looking and post it if I do.

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Susan Stem

http://www.tribaltrappings.com
http://tribaltrappings.blogspot.com/


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 1:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 05, 2005 9:45 pm
Posts: 13
The piece I bought in Thailand, which I don't have a picture of right now, came from Chris Kausman of Rarearth in Chiang Mai.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 2:15 am 
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Joined: Thu May 05, 2005 9:45 pm
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Here are pictures of the piece I bought in Chiang Mai.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2005 5:30 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2003 8:50 pm
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Location: Cheam, UK
Hello Jeff
I have been looking through my Li references for any sign of textiles like your Li jacket and covers. My main ref which you may or may not know is a large volume called "The Traditional Culture of the Li ethnic group" published in China ( in 2001 I think) and which I and other forum members found difficult to obtain.
Firstly there are men's jackets shown, but none appear to show the combination of ikat and woven strips as in your example. The best of these photos shows a diviner participating in a ceremony and wearing a dark blue (indigo) jacket, open down the front with similar woven bands, but the picture's not clear enough to show if there is any ikat between them. From what I can see, I suspect there isn't.
Although the book is very hard to come by, there is however a website which has this and some other photographs from the book in a section of two pages on the Li.
http://www.hnpits.com/2004english/hn_culture.asp

Secondly, from a quick glance, the book does not seem to feature covers like yours but since they are so similar to the very Li looking man's jacket, I would hazard a guess they have the same origin, although it must be kept in mind that other Southeast Asian peoples, especially the many Tai groups on the mainland produce similar work.


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 Post subject: Real Li... Really!
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 11:09 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2003 6:34 pm
Posts: 393
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Jeff and all-
I also agree with Pamela and Siriol that your coat is probably from the Li of Hainan Island, and possibly a priest's or shaman's coat. I'm no expert on this, but I do have a copy of the Li book and have found a photo of a priest leading a procession and wearing a long coat on the tenth page of section XI (it's not paginated). Judging from other photos of men performing their duties as fishermen and hunters and gatherers, long coats would not be standard wear; it's far more likely that coats like these are only worn by priests or shaman for ceremonial purposes.

I have recently acquired one also, and was told that it was a shaman's coat. The collar is the giveaway that it is definitely from the Li, either the Qi or Ha group as it has design motifs similar to their skirts. Mine is comprised of two long, approximately 12" wide indigo cotton panels sewn together lengthwise down the back, with sleeves added on (and of a different, but similar fabric); there is no ikat; the collar is also added on. Supplementary weft designs embellish the edges and hems.

I'm glad to see that others appreciate these fairly simple textiles in which the hand of the maker is so evident.


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Susan Stem

http://www.tribaltrappings.com
http://tribaltrappings.blogspot.com/
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