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tribaltextiles.info • View topic - Mystery batik with classical chinese imagery

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 9:08 pm 
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Location: NYC
Could the unrivaled expertise of this forum shed light on this textile which I recently acquired? It is a hanging, 46x54 inches large, made up of 4 panels of what I believe is handwoven cotton.

The outer "frame" appears to be stenciled batik, while the inner field is a mixture of what looks to me like hand drawn wax resist batik and actual drawing (I am no expert in the field of batik). While the scene depicted appears to be a classical Chinese one, the style of the textile seems to me closer to Indonesian, possibly Pekalongan batik. However, while I have seen a number of "Chinese" Pekalongan altar cloths, this doesn't quite resemble anything know.

Or could it be Chinese?

Your enlightened views would be most appreciated!

Florian


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 8:52 pm 
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Location: Canterbury, UK
Hi Florian

What a stunning piece! So vibrant. It has an almost cartoon-like feel about it. Lots of undercurrents. Definitely for those in the know they would understand what is happening. Regrettably I am not one of them.

Looking at it I get a sense of Japan.

I think it has an interesting mix of techniques. I see drawing with ink; resist, some of it possibly a stencil, other free hand; painted on colour....I would love to be able to examine it close to.

I don't feel able to comment authoritatively but I am certainly captivated by it. A great find!

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http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 7:00 am 
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Location: Japan
Hi Florian, I wonder if your textile could be an auspicious futon cover from Japan, along the lines of Pamela's feeling. I have never seen one with a border like yours or the Chinese looking figures but other elements seem to fit. The four panel construction and size are like futon covers and the colors look like Meiji Japan colors.

Your textile contains the Sho (pine), Chiku (bamboo), Bai (plum) motifs known as the three friends of winter which represent promise and good fortune. They are often used on futon covers. The pine stands for strenght and longevity, the bamboo for durability and flexibility and the plum for rebirth, renewal and pure spirit.

The border looks like KATAZOME or stencil resist dyeing. The main motifs look like TSUTSUGAKI or cake decorator drawing where the motifs are drawn or outlined with resist from the tsutsu (cake decorator) and the dyes applied to the resisted areas. When the resist is removed the dyed areas are left outlined in white. I wonder if the black lines could have been brushed on before the resists were applied? Do they show on the back of the cloth?

Many of the elements of Japanese art were imported from China but I don't know who the figures are or the story they represent. Perhaps Chris could help out here. You have a very beautiful textile and it will be interesting to find out what story it is telling.

Best regards, MAC


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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 2:46 pm 
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Location: Beijing
Lovely batik, and very interesting explanations of the techniques from MAC.

Japanese, yes! look at those stylized pine needles!

I will hazard a guess that the scene is from the Journey to the West, when the immortals stage a banquet in the grove of the peaches of immortality, but discover that the Monkey King (bottom right in the batik) has stolen the peaches and eaten them. This takes place before he is assigned as the guardian of the monk Xuan Zang, to go in search of the holy scriptures.

The figure in the center might be the Jade Emperor or other heavenly dignitary, being brought wine by a servant (bottom left) bearing wine in an old fashioned bronze jue wine vessel (?) on a tray.


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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 2:44 am 
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Thanks much for all your incredibly insightful responses!
MAC, in response to your question, the black lines are not visible from the back.


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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 5:54 pm 
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Location: Japan
Florian, Chris is right about the motifs on your textile. If you do a google search for Shou Lao, the god of Longevity, The Journey West, the peaches of immortality, the mother queen of the west or the monkey king you will find lots of info about the origins of the motifs.

The fact that the black lines are not seen on the back of the cloth indicates, I think, that they were painted on by hand and not dyed. Therefore, they didn't penetrate through to the back of the cloth.

Best regards, MAC


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:38 pm 
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Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Yesterday, I had a moment to look at the general forum and saw this beautiful textile. Today I noticed the same piece in The Extraordinary in the Ordinary edited by Mary Hunt Kahlenberg for the collection of Lloyd Cotsen at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Museum. It might not be difficult to get permission to include the photograph on page 103 of the book. The Cotsen piece is described as rice paste resist-dyed with over paint on plain weave cotton using stencil and freehand drawings. ...dating from 1890 to 1925. The Cotsen piece is larger with more scenes on the top and bottom. Still essentially the same iconography from Daoism. The deities are known as the three stars and represent happiness, wealth, and long life.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:44 pm 
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In addition the monkey stealing the peach is identified in the text as from the Journey to the West...a touch of Buddhism in the Daoist piece.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:34 am 
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At the grassroots level in China Daoism and Buddhism cannot be clearly separated. While Sun Wukong accompanies a monk on his journey, Monkey is an important symbol of Daoist sorcery and magic.

Steven


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 Post subject: Chinese Batik
PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 3:51 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:45 pm 
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http://www.tribaltextiles.info
on-line tribal textiles resource


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 Post subject: Chinese batik
PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:42 pm 
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