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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:04 pm 
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Ann Goodman has been in touch with the following question and sharing photos of a very beautifully executed baby carrier:
Quote:
"I have an interesting red wool tabby cloth baby carrier that I would like to post. I think that it is Yi from the writing on the prayer wheel and the circle motif enclosing diamonds. Maybe it's Tibetan, although my step-son reads Tibetan and he says it is not. His fiance, who is Taiwanese and translated the Mandarin cartouche for me, states that the writing on the prayer wheel is from the same language group as known Yi manuscripts that I have shown her. The Yi language is within the Tibeto-Burmese language group. Several Yi motifs are displayed; Sika deer among the flowers, crane, phoenix, lion, tiger. I do not know what the motifs along the outer black bands represent. I suspect they are Taoist symbols, but what? The writing in the top cartouche is, of course, Mandarin and has been translated for me reading the colums from right to left as: "1) Wide, Grand, Succeed 2) Divinatory symbol, Arrange, list 3) Female, earth, Harmony, agreement 4) Thick, Carry, record, year, Combine. Is the "B" symbol embedded in the white circle upper right a Yi letter? If not, what does this symbol represent?

Can anyone in the Forum identify the shape of the carrier and let me know where I might find similar shaped baby carriers. I don't see anything like it in "Bonding via Baby Carriers". I get a Dong sense from the shape but I can't come up with a Dong baby carrier. I date this piece as pre-twentieth century.

Best to all.
Ann"


Attachments:
YiRedwoolBCw.jpg
YiRedwoolBCw.jpg [ 71.2 KiB | Viewed 11838 times ]
YiBCgw.jpg
YiBCgw.jpg [ 75.73 KiB | Viewed 11838 times ]
YiBCcw.jpg
YiBCcw.jpg [ 78.66 KiB | Viewed 11838 times ]
YiBCaw.jpg
YiBCaw.jpg [ 72.73 KiB | Viewed 11838 times ]
languageBCYi174w.jpg
languageBCYi174w.jpg [ 77.03 KiB | Viewed 11838 times ]
08.010LanguageBCYi173w.jpg
08.010LanguageBCYi173w.jpg [ 75.73 KiB | Viewed 11838 times ]

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Last edited by Pamela on Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:08 pm 
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I have enlarged details of the the prayer wheel, the symbol in the circle and the cartouche. If anyone wants any more details enlarged the images that Ann sent me are quite large and with good definition so I may be able to show them more clearly for you.


Attachments:
YiBCg-det.jpg
YiBCg-det.jpg [ 74.44 KiB | Viewed 11837 times ]
YiBCa-det.jpg
YiBCa-det.jpg [ 72.98 KiB | Viewed 11837 times ]
languageBCYi174det.jpg
languageBCYi174det.jpg [ 79.77 KiB | Viewed 11837 times ]

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 Post subject: ?possibly Han?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:37 am 
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Here for a brief visit and logging on :D
I wonder whether this piece is not actually a Han Chinese piece? The style of the horned dragons and their depiction reflects a strong Han Chinese influence along with the associated flaming pearl (寳珠)commonly found amongst the Han Chinese to this day. To answer a couple of Ann's questions directly:
1. The "B" symbol appears to be the Chinese character for 'sun'.
2. The 'circle motif enclosing diamonds' distributed through the piece may quite possibly represent old coinage and is also not a specifically Tibetan or Yi motif.
3. Regarding the motifs on the black border: these appear to be a combination of the symbols used to represent the Daoist Eight Immortals 八仙 (Baxian) on the left, namely a fan to represent 鐘離權 (Zhongli Quan) and a gourd to represent 铁拐李 (Tieguai Li). The symbol on the top right black border may possibly be a pair of castanets used to represent 曹國舅 (Cao Guojiu) but the lower right symbol has no counterpart to represent a further member of the Eight Immortals. The symbols on the right may then possibly depict two of the Eight Treasures as follows: top right a pair of rhinoceros horns used to denote happiness and, lower right, a book used to denote good fortune.

I cannot see the "tiger" on this particular piece (usually either very obviously depicted with stripes or in other less direct representations by the character 王 (wang).
The mythical creature on the left is actually a qilin, whilst I think the two animals represented at the top are actually a pair of fu lions.
'Sika' deer are widely distributed across East Asia and are commonly associated with longevity.
I am uncertain as to the distinction between the two birds as crane and phoenix and likewise the attribution "Yi flowers".

It is interesting that all animals are represented in pairs except for the qilin where, in Han Chinese art, it is typically depicted as solitary. Furthermore in this piece the qilin is depicted, unlike all the other animals above/on some flowers and leaves: In Han Chinese folklore, the qilin is the believed to be able to walk on plants and yet not to crush them.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 12:14 pm 
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Hello
I do share the opinion of Iain. I can't find anything ethnic or tribal in this piece. On the opposit, I see many references to the popular folklore of the Chinese. All the symbols used here are traditional han symbols for prosperity, wealth, health, longevity... The style is more 'rural", but it is han chinese.
I couldn't say more on Iain's explanation. The B shaped caracter (ri) means the sun, and the symbols on the borders are definitely representing the Immortals, but like Iain, I can't link the last one to any immortals. Only I 'd say it looks like a book. In fact, as Iain noticed, there is not a tiger on this piece of textile but a unicorn (qilin), a very pacific animal despite its ferocious look. The qilin or unicorn is an auspicious mythic animal that brings children (this is a baby carrier) This animal is a symbol of good fortune and kindness. It has the body covered with shells, the tail of a cow, the head of a dragon and a unic horn.
I would only add that the first caracter in the prayer wheel looks like the the caracter wu on the old chinese coins. It is usually accompanied of 3 other caracters that mean together : the ones satisfied are always cheerful.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:21 pm 
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...and Ann Goodman's response:

Quote:
I read Iain's and Yuanzhumin's comments on the mystery baby carrier as fast as I could read. The main reason that I thought that this piece was Yi was from the writing on the prayer wheel. Also, some of the 19th century high status Yi embroideries may have been done by Han slaves, thus muddying the "ethnic" identification. This being said, Yuanzhumin's interpretation of the first character of writing on the prayer wheel as Han, rather than Yi (the other characters being not specific enough to be readily identified) seems to put the cap on the Han identification. The single unknown entity now is the symbol on the lower right black border, which neither Iain nor Yuanzhumin can identify. If I am able to get an expert on Yi language to look at this baby carrier I will post again with comments. Meanwhile, I am so appreciative of the efforts of Pamela and Iain and Yuanzhumin who took the time to carefully look at this piece and help me out with their generosity and deep knowledge.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 1:13 am 
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I don’t know if it’s the right direction, but just to add more on the wu caracter and the Chinese coins, check this Internet page and you will see the caracter wu on many old coins beginning with the Three Kingdoms (221 - 265 a.d.) till the Tang dynasty (618 - 907 a.d.):
http://www.sportstune.com/chinese/coins/idpage3.html


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:22 am 
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Sorry, it's me again. I’ve a lot of free time since I moved to Shanghai and I’m keeping on thinking about this “baby carrier”. There is something that arises my curiosity about it.

If I look at the pictures, I see some sort of metal buttons on its side and top to fix the side strips to hold the carrier and the baby in it on the back. But, frankly, are they solid enough to hold the weight of a baby ? I know I would never trust such a fragile way of holding a child on my back. Could this be really a baby carrier ? What if this way of holding was only for holding the fabric itself and nothing else ? Could this be a kind of banner or even apron ?

What made me doubt about the use of this textile, is the translation of the top cartouche - thanks to my wife. This text has to be read in a special way. In fact, these are two different texts side by side.

The first one is beginning on the top right, with a column of 3 caracters that you read by going downward, then you go to the second column, immediately on the left of the first one, with two other caracters that have to be read vertically, from top to bottom.

The second text is on the left side of the cartouche, and you have to read it beginning by the top left caracter of the first left column. Similarly to the first text, you go after to the second column on the right, to read the 2 last vertically placed caracters beginning from the top and going downward.

I didn’t tell my wife we were talking about a baby carrier, and after reading the text, she asked : ‘Is this another Taoist priest dress ?’

Here is her translation of the cartouche. She translated it to me in French, and I wrote it down into my bad english :
First text Kuan hong cheng gua lie
Thanks to a wide spirit (could also be translated by ‘generous vision’), one will put the bagua in the right order (the bagua being the 8 diagrams used in Taoist cosmology to represent the world and arrange concepts/elements between them)
Second text Hou zai bin kun tong
One should have a heart full of compassion to become like Earth and Sea

Knowing the meaning of the text, I began to look at this ‘baby carrier’ differently. All the symbols on this piece of textile are so Taoist and esoteric.

I would be curious to have the advice of others on this, but my wife told me that this piece of textile could well be something else than a simple baby carrier.

Lieutenant Columbo


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:02 am 
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The characters on the unfurling scroll on the top left definitely are not Han Chinese. It looks like it might be a representation of an Yi bimo book.
I am not an expert on bimo books or the Yi. I am simply venturing a possibility.

If it is a baby carrier why the eyelet on the top? If it was for a headcover wouldn't there be two eyelets?

What a nice mystery. I look forward to seeing who can solve it.

Steven

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 9:35 am 
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Thanks to Google, I found a website written in yi/bimo - I presume :-). Here it is :
http://www.yizuren.com/yi/index.html

Yes, the similarities are troubling with the signs written on the unfurling scroll. So are these archaic chinese characters or yi/bimo characters? We have already seen that at least one of these characters also exist in archaic Chinese, and it is visible on old Han coins.

I found also another website insisting on the similarities between the Yi characters and the Chinese archaic characters.
Here it is :
http://www.yfao.gov.cn/Enshow.aspx?id=159
With an excerpt from this website
Quote:
‘One amazing fact about the Yi language is that it can be adopted to decipher some mysterious symbols on the pottery unearthed at the Banpo archaeological site near Xi'an which are recognized as the beginning of Chinese characters some 6,000 years old.The ancient Yi language also shares more than 100 characters with oracle bone inscriptions, the earliest known Chinese writing. ‘

Is there any specialist of archaic Chinese/Yi writing around to help us ?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 7:17 pm 
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What an interesting thread about a beautiful textile! It's amazing to me that a textile has lead to a discussion about religion, archaeology and language!

I don't have much to add, but my first impression when viewing the writing on the "scroll" is that it is somehow related to the trigrams of the I Ching, which based on what yuanzhumin had researched, appears to have it's roots in the Yi language.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 2:03 am 
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I have noticed that the address for the website written in Yi language is slightly different from the one I pasted before. Here it is, hoping that everybody will be able to access it now.
http://www.yizuren.com/YI/index.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:50 am 
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from Ann Goodman:

Quote:
In response to the several erudite comments on the "Yi baby carrier", I will make four comments:

1) I do believe that the design with the "Yi" writing is a prayer wheel, and not a scroll. The Yi manuscripts that I have seen are rolled over a wooden stick that extends on both ends, not just on one end as in the example we are discussing.

2) Maybe this is a baby carrier cover which could have been buttoned onto the heavy carrier and removed when the carrier, itself, needed cleaning. However, there are remnants of stitching around the perimeter on the back, indicating that this piece had been sewn to another textile (photo attached).

3) The unidentified Daoist? symbol on the bottom of the right black band is decorated with a swastika in each of the four squares. I don't think it is a book. I have seen the pale blue and white color palette used in Yao patchwork applique blankets. (see enlargment of detail below)

Finally, when I bought this piece from a U.S. dealer who had purchased it in China, it was labelled "Yao from Yunnan", but based on the writing in the prayer wheel I thought, and still hope, that it could be high status Yi. I appreciate very much the comments of Yuanzhumin with regard to archaic Chinese writing in relation to Yi language and his wife's poetic translation of the Mandarin cartouche.

Ann


Attachments:
File comment: reverse of textile
YiBCBackDetailw.jpg
YiBCBackDetailw.jpg [ 48.76 KiB | Viewed 11675 times ]
File comment: detail of symbol in bottom right black band
YiBCa-det.jpg
YiBCa-det.jpg [ 70.83 KiB | Viewed 11675 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 9:15 pm 
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Following her return from seeing the 'Writing with Thread' exhibit in Santa Fe and enjoying delving into the catalogue, Ann Goodman has been in touch asking me to make a post on this thread on her behalf:

Quote:
"Returning once again to the thread "Is it a Yi Baby Carrier" there are three Yao baby carriers on pages 317-321 of the "Writing with Thread"(WWT) catalog. The carrier on p. 317 s the exact shape of my carrier. The carrier on p. 319 has buttons, as does my carrier. As noted in WWT on p. 378 these buttons were probably used to attached the heavily embroidered and worked carrier to a foundation carrier of stronger construction. When the carrier needed to be washed, the embroidered part could be unbuttoned and the foundation washed I note that the Yi baby carrier on p. 378 (WWT) also has buttons for ease of washing. In partaicular, the fine Han-style embroidery of the carrier on p. 321 is similar to the embroidery of my carrier. In sum there may be a conflation between Yao and Yi. My red wool carrier has the "bimo-style" writing and many symbols used by both Yi and Yao. The red wool backing of my carrier is described by Michael Franses as "tabby cloth", which was imported from England into Russia and China in the 18th and 19th centuries. Franses identified the tabby cloth in a piece in my collection from Khevetsuria, Georgia. Somewhere in the "Writing with Threads" catalog is the suggestion that the red wool cloth could be residue from English military uniforms. This suggestion makes eminent sense for the minorities would have little opportunity to barter for newly imported English tabby cloth. Several of the pieces in my collection, including a Buyi jacket illustrated on The Forum, a Bailing jacket, a Danzhai jacket and two Bailing baby carriers and as well as the YI/Yao baby carrier use the red tabby cloth. This tabby cloth differs totally from the red wool cloth used in several Yi skirts in my collection. The Yi wool skirts are of much coarser weave.


I would just add to this post the definition of 'tabby cloth' as given by Marla Mallet in her 'Woven Structures', page 26, where she says, under the heading 'Balanced plain weaves':
Quote:
"In balanced plain weaves the warps and wefts are similar in size, character, and spacing. Both elements can be seen clearly (figure 1.13). This is the weave that Westerners call "tabby"........ Soft and flexible balanced plain weaves are suitable for clothing, curtains, and covers, as well as for bags that do not get heavy use..."

The Bailing Miao red wool cloth on textiles in my collection would, indeed, qualify as 'tabby' as it is a balanced, plain weave.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 11:11 pm 
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Thank you, Ann, for sharing pictures of your beautiful baby carrier. My own Yao? baby carrier appears to have some similarity to the Yao baby carrier pictured on pages 320-321 of the Writing with Thread catalog. Huang Ying Feng's collection is proving a benchmark for helping collectors and scholars identify Chinese Minority textiles. Words cannot express how grateful I am for Huang Ying Feng's vision.

My own carrier shows some oddness around the central panel. Perhaps another larger panel was sewn there originally? All comments appreciated.


Attachments:
IMG_1603w.jpg
IMG_1603w.jpg [ 85.55 KiB | Viewed 10085 times ]
IMG_1604w.jpg
IMG_1604w.jpg [ 84.5 KiB | Viewed 10085 times ]
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:29 am 
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Nina

Very many thanks for sharing your charming baby carrier with us. It seems very much in the style of those on WWT, pages 317-321 which all seem to be from Guangxi. As a former patchworker and quilter it is interesting to see the use of patch/pieced work background in all of the carriers with the application of the embroidered square in the centre with its whimsical depiction of the auspicious symbols. Perhaps your carrier is closest to the one depicted on pages 320-21 in WWF which is shown to come from Jinxiu Yao County, Guangxi and thought to be 'early 20th century'. The next most similar on page 317 is also from Jinxiu Yao County and thought to be 'early-mid 20th century. The one on page 319 has quite a different style of centre embroidery which looks, at a distance, to be woven brocade. This one is given as from Lipu County and 'early-mid 20th century'.

Ann's carrier does not quite seem to be in the same mold but perhaps that is because it might be a decade or so earlier or from a village further away.

I can see that we will have to try and get permission to post images - with full attribution of course - from WWF on this forum! I will see what I can achieve!!!!

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