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 Post subject: Li Loom from Hainan
PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:03 am 
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Location: Beijing
Here is a backstrap loom that I bought recently from a trader who specializes in Li textiles. He told me that this is a Li minority loom. I'm posting it here for interest, and also in the hope that forum members can confirm or correct my identfication of the parts.

I find this kind of loom interesting because it is (presumably) the earliest form of loom. I have seen similar looms in use in southern Laos, and they are widely used in Tibet still (though usually braced with a stake in the ground rather than with the feet). Other parts of Asia I am less familiar with.

From right to left:
A) backstrap, weaver sits in between this and B), loops attach to the notches in B) I think.
B) the bar closest to the weaver, warp wraps around it and is tensioned at the other end by H).
C) Sword, for patting down the weft, positioned at the leading edge of the weaving
D) Heddle, for lifting half the warp threads to create a shed to continue the weaving
E) and F), free floating bamboo rods, presumably used in reversing the shed as the weaving progresses, though I am unsure of the details of how this is done
G) fixed bamboo rod with warp threads tightly wrapped around it, not sure what the technical name for this is or how to describe its function
H) foot tension bar: in use this would be turned through 90 degrees versus how I have photographed it: the weaver positions her feet against two flat faces (underside of the bar in the picture)
J), K), L), M) these various bars and rods were included though I am not sure if they are "spares" or essential components (can anyone enlighten me?)

The larger parts are made of a fine grained tropical hardwood, the small rods are all bamboo. The hardwood bars have patterning on them similar to some Li textiles: I've included a photo of one part to show this. The loom has a partly woven silk textile on it, with a fairly simple design, though I am told that Li weavers used similar looms even for their more complex weavings.

The same trader had a bundle of wonderful Li jackets and small skirts, but all horribly expensive so I had to leave those behind, sadly.

The National Gallery of Australia has a wonderful small bronze sculpture from Flores of a woman with a backstrap loom, dating from the 6th century:
http://nga.gov.au/BronzeWeaver/


Attachments:
File comment: Li Minority backstrap loom, laid out to show the component parts
LiLoom1.jpg
LiLoom1.jpg [ 85.78 KiB | Viewed 7936 times ]
File comment: Detail of decoration on foot tensioning bar
LiLoom2.jpg
LiLoom2.jpg [ 77.23 KiB | Viewed 7936 times ]
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:09 pm 
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Chris

Very many thanks for this super photo of a Li loom. I love these back-strap looms. If you go to this thread http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... .php?t=937 and go part of the way down the thread you will find a Li loom - we think it is Meifu Li - which I posted on John's thread on weaving implements. I am going to repost the actual photo here so that I can see both yours and mine together as they seem pretty similar to me - go back to old thread for detail shots. Susan and Robert Stem did a pretty good job, I thought, of laying it out and photographing it.

I would think that there could be several 'M' pattern sticks (which I think are the same as E, F, G). Don't know if J could be used as a shuttle to put threads through or even L or if it is a spare B (breast/cloth beam). Don't know if L could be used as a secondary heddle stick.


Attachments:
File comment: Li loom, probably Meifu Li. See middle of thread http://www.tribaltextiles.info/community/viewtopic.php?t=937 for detail photos
meifu-li-loom.jpg
meifu-li-loom.jpg [ 55.53 KiB | Viewed 7927 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:41 am 
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Location: Beijing
thanks Pamela!

Your loom looks very close to mine ... I suspect they were made within shouting distance of each other, the carved designs are so similar. It's good to see the Hainan/ Li attribution checks out. From looking at your excellent photo I can see that my set is lacking a shuttle. I think "J" is a spare "B". Your photo also shows that the heddle is made from one piece of bamboo bent double ... mine is similar (a naturally forked piece of bamboo), though it is difficult to see this in my photo.

If you prefer to move this post to the implements thread its fine with me...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:29 am 
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Let's leave this thread 'standing on its own two feet'. It took me ages to find my original post (back in early 2007) even with the forum search feature and this one is much easier to find if anyone is looking. I have edited one of my posts in the other thread and put a cross reference in for this thread so hopefully none of us will get lost and miss any goodies!

I hope we can attract some more weaving implement posts as I think they help our understanding of the textiles. Forum member Mark Johnson sometimes has some weaving implements on his site http://www.markajohnson.com/ - I think I have seen mainly Iban from Borneo - which I always enjoy.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:04 pm 
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Pamela and all,

I can make a few comments on the looms that are shown here.

In the Buckley photo, the piece labeled K was most likely used as a shed stick to open the primary shed. It would be placed in the warp between the heddle bar with its string heddles (D) and the stick marked E.

E and F are lease sticks, used when setting up the loom to separate alternate warps, but then frequently left in place during the weaving as an aid to keeping the warp in order and also to maintaining even warp tension.

The bar marked G was the end point at which the warp yarns reversed when the warp was set up.

C, the weaving “sword” is a multi-purpose tool. With its carefully fashioned point, it could be used flat to pick a pattern, then turned on its edge to open the just formed pattern shed wide for the shuttle. It could be used to hold open either the shed formed by the heddle rod or shed stick or both. Its weight and usually one fairly sharp lengthwise edge was used to beat the weft yarns into place.

Part L is probably a bobbin (shuttle). Part J was either for another loom, or was used occasionally in conjunction with B to clamp the finished cloth and allowing it to be rolled, assuming that the warp was longer and needed to be staked to the ground.

In the second photo, we can again see a warp end bar, where the warp reversal occurred. The heddle bar, with its string heddles is in its proper place, but the other sticks stuck randomly in the warp behind that are serving no purpose. A shed stick (usually wide and flat on a small loom) for forming the primary shed is missing. A couple of the assorted sticks may have been used for lease sticks, or they may have been part of a larger set of brocade pattern rods. In this case, they would have to be placed much farther back—though of course nothing can go behind the point where the warp ends reverse.

I suspect that both of these looms were warped up for tourist sales, as the warp end reversal is set much too far forward to make good sense!

Actually, it is generally acknowledged that warp-weighted looms and simple frame looms were the earliest types, warp-weighted looms evolving out of the needs of simple twining. After the invention of heddles and true weaving, loom developments took several different directions. The Li backstrap looms actually exemplify quite sophisticated weaving technology.

Marla Mallett.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:23 pm 
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In thinking a little more about the two looms shown above, it seems that maybe a couple more comments are in order.

The second loom setup—Pamela’s I guess--as shown here, could not have been used with the weaver’s feet providing the tensioning—at least for most of the weaving. When a warp is rolled at only one end, and in a case like this with the completed cloth rolled up as it was woven, the whole thing obviously was stretched out much longer at the beginning. As the warp was gradually woven and that cloth rolled up, everything got progressively shorter—but presumably NOT the weaver’s legs! With this warp set-up, the back beam was either staked to the ground or tied to a tree or posts, and the weaver just scooted forward as the weaving progressed.

I can’t see whether or not the fabric at the front end is clamped to prevent it from un-rolling when under tension. The two sticks there would seem to make a flimsy cloth beam arrangement.

I should perhaps elaborate on my comment about the warp-end reversal points being too far forward. Just about EVERY weaver using laboriously produced hand-spun yarns is careful in setting up her loom so as NOT to waste those materials. In both of these loom set-ups, we see unnecessary lengths of warp that could not be woven. On the first loom, in fact, the weaving was started a LONG way from the warp reversal point on the circular warp (the weaving started on the underneath portion), and the fell of the cloth is now just a few inches from the end (the distance needed to open a shed in front of the warp-reversal point)--suggesting that the thing was almost certainly set up just for show or sale. No self-respecting weaver would set up and begin weaving on a circular warp so that only about one-third of its length was accessible! The second loom was set up quite differently, and the warp is not circular, but what appears to be its warp reversal point is located unnecessarily far from the back beam, making perhaps 10 to 15 inches of the warp unusable.

Marla


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:49 pm 
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My thanks to Marla for her very helpful comments. Yes, the more I look at 'my' loom I realise that it could not have been warped up and used as displayed.

These Li foot-braced looms are very interesting. By serendipity I received last week the latest book by Michael C. Howard 'A World between the Warps: Southeast Asia's Supplementary Warp Textiles' (I will put full info on the books section of the forum). I was quite excited to find in the photograph section a reproduction on page 97 (Plate 111) a photo from Hans Stübel's 'Die Li-Stämme der insel Hainan: Ein Beitrag zur Volkskunde Südchinas', 'Li women, identified by Stübel as being Nam-Lo Li from Nam Lo hsia tsuin (Hainan Island, China), weaving on a foot braced loom. [Stübel 1937: fig. 154]. I have been in touch with Dr Howard and he has kindly got back to be with the 'OK' to post the photo here.


Attachments:
File comment: from Hans Stübel's 'Die Li-Stämme der insel Hainan: Ein Beitrag zur Volkskunde Südchinas', 'Li women, identified by Stübel as being Nam-Lo Li from Nam Lo hsia tsuin (Hainan Island, China), weaving on a foot braced loom. [Stübel 1937:
Stubel-MCH-warp-p97-pl111.jpg
Stubel-MCH-warp-p97-pl111.jpg [ 76.08 KiB | Viewed 7759 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 1:01 am 
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Pamela,

What a lovely photo. Actually, the loom shown here is not yet set up for weaving. The seated woman is just holding the warp taut, so that the second person could pick the warps for the secondary shed and make string heddles for the heddle bar. This warp is circular, and you can see that she is working on just the top layer. After the heddle bar is completed, the warp will be rotated so that the warp-end position is underneath.

Marla


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 Post subject: Mea culpa!
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 3:40 pm 
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Hi All-
How nice to see a post on my favorite weaving tools and to learn something about how they are used. Thank you Chris for initiating the post and sharing photos of your loom, and many thanks to Marla for sharing her technical expertise.

As is obvious, I don't know much about backstrap looms; I set Pamela's up for the photo pretty much as I received it. Same with the one I'm showing here. Both looms came with continuous warp textiles, as shown. This one is clearly a skirt band from the Meifu-speaking group, as the photo below shows (The Li have five groups, each speaking a different dialect and this is how they are identified in Traditional Culture of Li Ethnic Group, edited by Wang Xueping.). Also shown is a rather poor photo taken from this volume which shows Meifu women weaving on foot-tensioned looms with similar foot braces, which also makes me believe that these particular looms are Meifu (love the baby basket). I've also included an old Meifu skirt from my collection that shows how these special bands are used on the skirts. (Note that the skirt is not upside down- the decorative band is not worn at the hip, but rather lower down, or at least this type is shown worn this way in the book.) I thought Chris might like to know a bit more about the source of his loom.


Attachments:
Mail-Meifu-Loom-Overall.jpg
Mail-Meifu-Loom-Overall.jpg [ 78.07 KiB | Viewed 7559 times ]
Mail-ATW233Textile-detail.jpg
Mail-ATW233Textile-detail.jpg [ 84.3 KiB | Viewed 7559 times ]
Mail-Meifu-Women-Weaving.jpg
Mail-Meifu-Women-Weaving.jpg [ 63.86 KiB | Viewed 7559 times ]
Mail-TACH176_Front.jpg
Mail-TACH176_Front.jpg [ 66.6 KiB | Viewed 7559 times ]

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