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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 9:08 pm 
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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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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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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 7:00 am 
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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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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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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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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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On consideration I think this is a batik from Pekalongan, but most probably made in the sister town of Kedungwuni. It is possibly a tok wie, alter hanging. These would have been made for the local Chinese clientele and hung down in front of the high ancestral alters.
The faces are most certainly Chinese, the cloud motif in the upper section is very reminiscent of the cloud pattern created in Cirebon - known as megamendung . The colouring and details of the batik work is very good, this is certainly a very interesting and unusual textile. For reference of how the alter cloths are used, take a look at the Peranakan Museum in Singapore.
I think the borders are made in batik tulis - hand drawn, but the centre section is probably made with a technique called colet which is painting. The outline sections are the wax lines and the patterns are
Quote:
filled in
by the colet technique.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:45 pm 
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Pam Najdowski certainly made a good match between the textile on this thread and the one in the Lloyd Cotsen collection in the Museum of International Folk Art, Sante Fe, New Mexico which is shown on page 103 of The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Textiles and Objects from the Collections of Lloyd Cotsen and the Neutrogena Corporation, edited by Mary Hunt Kahlenberg and published by Henry N. Abrams, Inc. NY in 1998 ISBN 0-8109-1396-8.

Being a total bookaholic I managed to track down a reasonably priced second-hand copy on the web which arrived today. A beautiful book with very high quality illustrations and full of information. The section on China is written by John Vollmer, a well respected authority on Chinese costume and textiles and author of several publications in the field including Decoding Dragons: Status garments in Ch'ing Dynasty China.

The textile of interest to us here is the last one illustrated in John Vollmer's section on China, Chapter 4 in the book.
Quote:
Plate 107: Coverlet Top, Han people, China, probably Jiangxu province, 1890-1925. Resist-dyed with overpainted colors; plain weave cotton 74 7/8 x 71 5/8 (190 x 182 cm.)

I have contacted the Museum to ask for permission to post a scan of the photo of the coverlet here and hope to hear back next week. Fingers crossed for a positive response!

As Pam has already informed us, the Cotsen piece is larger than Florian's - it comprises 6 lengths of handwoven cotton, Florian's is four. However, the centre of the Cotsen piece is almost identical to the one framed by four borders which Florian has. It has only two of the similar framing borders (at the sides) but a narrower border top and bottom before wide, flowing scenes and some additional interesting, more formal borders at the sides.

Vollmer says that it is a professional workshop design and there would originally have been a plain backing to make an envelope for a thick, padded quilt. He gives quite a long description of the meanings of the piece, 'derived from the rich iconography of Daoism' which Pam has summarised:
Quote:
"It is directed toward wishes for a long life, probably intended for the use of a family patriarch. The deities called the "Three Stars", symbolizing happiness, wealth, and long life are shown with attendants standing on a heavenly palace terrace. Beyond it is a garden with pine, bamboo, and plum. These three plants, called the "Three Friends", symbolize the virtues of the scholar-gentleman: long life, flexibility, and perseverance. Because the pine remains green all year it came to symbolize long life. The bamboo bends under the weight of snow, then flexes back upright, unbroken. The plum blossom is the first to appear, often blooming in the late spring snows. The deer, lingzhi fungus, and crane further emphasize wishes for a long life. At the right is a monkey stealing the peaches of immortality from the garden of the Queen of the Western Paradise. This image evokes a popular sixteenth-century novel about the exploits of a mischievous monkey who must find redemption through a pilgrimage to India. Although the latter is primarily a Buddhist story, its inclusion here reflects the highly syncretic nature of the major Chinese religions and the liberal borrowing from one another."

I also found interesting Vollmer's introductory comments about the use of the bedroom and bedding:
Quote:
"In traditional upper-class households, the bedroom was a major, if private, residential space. The bed furniture itself was often elaborate and richly embellished with silk curtains and coverlets. For the less privileged, beds remained a major focus of the house, even when they were little more than built-in benches that served dual function as daytime seating. In these households, bedding was often portable; it was rolled up or stored during the day and brought out at night. For such families, costs precluded silk furnishings."


The book has some gorgeous pieces shown and discussed. It has fine examples in chapters designated: Japan, China, South and Southeast Asia, Western Asia, Mediterranean, Europe, Africa - Sub-Sahara, Africa - Congo, Andes, Latin America, American Indian and North America.

Thank you, Pam, for spotting the 'twin' and drawing my attention to this beautiful and informative volume.

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Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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 Post subject: Chinese batik
PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:42 pm 
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Dear Pam and Pamela,

thanks so much for tracking down the textile in the Cotsen collection and for providing quotes from the book. I have since acquired a copy and the central element of the Cotsen textile looks indeed virtually identical (it is actually possible to see the page on Amazon.com without buying the book). By coincidence, I also spotted another identical version of this textile for sale on eBay, the only discernible difference being a silk backing.

All this points very much at this being a workshop design as Vollmer points out. Given that so many versions of this particular piece are in the US, I wonder if it may not also have been produced for export?

Florian


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