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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:40 am 
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I have been meaning to post details of "Miao Embroidery from South West China" by Ruth Smith with textiles from The Gina Corrigan Collection. Researchers: Margaret Baker, Gina Corrigan, Ros Downing, Marianne Ellis, Cobi Erskine, Deryn O´Connor, Thea Nield, Jeni Pinel, Phyllis Smith, Ruth Smith. ISBN 0-9528804-1-5.

The impetus for the book arose from the study of the collection of costume and textiles brought back from China by Gina Corrigan. Gina is a geographer, author, tour guide and photographer with a special interest in China and the Miao minority people of the Southwest. In 1998 she began to collect costumes mainly from Miao villages in Guizhou but also from Guangxi and Yunnan Provinces. Life in China is changing rapidly and any of the traditional textile skills are not being passed on to the present generation. This book is an attempt to record some of the embroidery stitches and techniques before they disappear. Ten researchers, some of whom have visited Miao villages, have analysed and recorded the decorative stitch techniques in the collection and these are illustrated with Gina´s photographs. The focus of the investigation has been the most highly decorated items of Miao clothing, namely the women´s festival jackets, skirts, aprons and baby carriers.

The research began at monthly meetings at which each member of the group gave a presentation on different costumes and accessories selected on the basis of their regional styles. Lively discussions developed as they compared results and responded to each other´s expertise both practical and academic. Those who had visited Miao villages and seen the women stitching were able to confirm or refute some of the findings. Not all Miao techniques have been observed and therefore the interpretation and explanations of some of the techniques are entirely the researchers´ own.

Ruth Smith who has authored the book based on the research trained as a teacher at Goldsmith´s College. She took City and Guilds embroidery courses at the Southampton College of Art in the 1970s and taught embroidery there and elsewhere for 20 years. Her interest in the history of the craft led to an MA degree at the Winchester School of Art in 1992 and work as a volunteer and consultant to the Hampshire County Council Museums Service. She is currently regional chairman of the Embroiderers´ Guild. She has been studying Gina´s collection of Miao textiles for the last three years.

Gina´s photos in the book show details of techniques, details of textiles and also the costumes being worn in the context of Miao villages and at festivals.

Although the book is in part a 'how to´ book it is very much more than this. I have found that it has enhanced my knowledge and enjoyment of my own textile collection. Returning from Guizhou and Guangxi recently and being able to read the book has given me a greater understanding of many of the textiles that I saw being worn and made as well as those collected via dealers.

The book is published by Occidor Ltd., Gina´s company and info on it can be found at www.miaoembroidery.co.uk Be advised that correspondence is by 'snail mail´, telephone or fax and payment for the book is in pounds sterling. I received this week information on the latest book list from the mail order bookshop Hanshang Tang. The list gave details of the book and noted that it could be ordered via them. I have bought books with a credit card via HST. www.hanshan.com


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