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tribaltextiles.info • View topic - A Puzzling Bag

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 1:45 pm 
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Me again- apologies for not citing the tribal group as in Dr. Howard's book: Jingpho in the Kachin State in north Burma. He makes a special mention about these bags which are called "n'hpye" and are carried by men and usually presented as a gift by the woman who made it (p.63). According to Dr. Howard there are also Jingpho speakers in SW Yunnan and a few in northern India (see p.59).


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 2:43 pm 
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This is definitely Kachin (and possibly Jingpho) as Susan has referenced from Howard's book. I have a bag which I purchased in Yangon several years ago which is more similar to Bill's than to that illustrated in Howard's book.

I will attempt to attach a photo for comparison.


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 Post subject: welcome - and thanks!
PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 5:26 pm 
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Digna

Welcome to the www.tribaltextiles.info/community forum!

What an excellent first post! Your photo indeed illustrates a bag very similar to Bill's.

I shall be hastening home to my reference library this evening for the Howard book and I believe that I may have other Jingpho photos, possibly from Yunnan.

Many thanks for sharing both your knowledge and collection.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:18 pm 
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Bill
In connection with your post dated Sat 7th Feb I was wondering if you could clarify who the groups living near the Chin but not mentioned in the Burma hilltribe books are, I'm intrigued!
Secondly the fact that the bag is more than likely Kachin is interesting and research into textiles made by the Mishmi and other hill tribes in Arunachal Pradesh bordering on the remote areas of highland Burma to the northwest, could be interesting. The Mishmi, a Tibeto-Burman speaking people, as are the Kachin, make some rather heavy looking textiles but these are difficult to find illus of as the textile tradition of northeast India appears to be little explored. I feel that the highland cultures of Arunachal are something of an extension of the upper Burma cultural sphere.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:29 pm 
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Pamela
I am very keen on your suggestion that we meet up and look at Tai and other textiles in your collection. ( possibly also, now Kachin if you have any). After the end of March I will have my new holiday allocation and will therefore find it easier to get the odd day off from work (weekends can be difficult but not impossible). Perhaps we can arrange a convienient date? I think you may have my email


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 Post subject: design elements
PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 10:09 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2003 4:52 am
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Location: California, USA
I'm pleased the "mystery" bag mystery has finally been solved. But let me make a few comments about the "snake" or meandering design on this textile.

I think it is important, but sometimes difficult, to distinguish between design elements and cultural symbols. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the diamond motif is thought to have come in Tai textiles through Bhutan. In fact the diamond is also a Buddhist motif in the textiles of the non-Theravada Buddhist Tai; the Tai Dam and Tai Daeng, for example, where it represents the Third Eye.

But the diamond is also a standard motif throughout the weaving world where supplementary weft is used; it's easy to weave, and is attractive. Does it mean that the diamond is now a Buddhist motif wherever it is woven? Of course not.

The same can be said of the "naak", the snake motif found throughout the Tai world. This motif is a cultural symbol of great potency, a nature myth, an origin myth, and as woven by the Tai, a complex visual symbol representing rebirth, fecundity, and union with natural forces.

Does that mean the meandering design on this bag holds the same meaning as it does to the Tai? The motif is also found throughout the world of weaving. But in this case, I'm not sure. If the bag's origin was discovered to be elsewhere, away from Indic influence (where the Tai "naak" ultimately comes from ) I'd say it was merely a weaving congruence, but perhaps in Upper Burma, it may have latent meaning as well.

Sandie


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 10:19 pm 
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Location: Frankfurt, Germany
Hello everyone,

The bag shown is a Khampti or Singpho (Jingphaw) bag as they are common in the Changlang and Lohit districts of Arunachal Pradesh / NE-India. In September I was lucky to be photographing the Northeast India collection of the Ethnological Museum, Berlin, for a proposed exhibtion, where a similar piece turned up which had been collected there in the 1870's.

As a reference you may look up Verrier Elwin's "Art of the Northeast Frontier of India".

The owner may call him/herself lucky! These pieces are beautiful!

We're working on a book on Arunachal where the piece mentioned should be published. If the community wishes I could post the bag I've photographed for comparison purposes.

Let me know

Peter


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2004 9:00 pm 
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I have just looked at my copy of "Art of the Northeast frontier of India"(Verrier Elwin) in response to Peter's post above and found some information which may be of interest. Firstly on the colour plate opp page 40 is a colour drawing of designs on a Singpho textile which features two snakes forming bold zigzag patterns wraped around a central panel. The snakes heads converge at the top. It is described as a border design. Two other seperate borders at the top of the plate feature patterns that are, to me, reminicent of Tai textile motifs. It may be significant that the khamptis, a Tai people live in the same general area.
As to the question about possible mythological significance of snake and diamond motifs in textiles of Arunachal, (and by extension, Burmerse hill peoples), there are folktales suggesting their connection with fertility, and how they came to be important symbols in the textiles of tribal peoples of this region.
Verrier Elwin documents two in the above book:
The first tells of how a fisherman of the Mishmi tribe caught two fish one of which he kept in a gourd as it was too beautiful to eat. When he returned each day to his house he found great quantities of cloth patterned with fish scales and the markings of a snake. He soon discovered that the fish turned into a girl with long hair during his absence and that she had a loom at which she produced textiles in abundance. The young man took her as his wife and she taught all the women of the tribe to weave. She told him that when she was a fish she looked at the snake in the river and copied the marks on its body and followed its colours reflected in the clouds. After this first weaver died, the gods took the sword from her loom and made it into a diamond pattern. that is why there are so many diamonds on Mishmi cloth.
The second story is a tale from the Sherdukpens of western Arunachal Pradesh and concerns a girl who falls in love with a snake who at times takes the form of a handsome youth. The snake coils in her lap as she weaves and she copies the patterns on her lover's body and soon makes the most beautiful textiles ever seen.
Whether such snake designs among the Singpho in Arunachal and those in Burma have similar tales associated with them is, at this stage a matter of conjecture, but, I think worthy of further research.

Peter,
Have you got a publisher and dates of publication yet for your Arunachal Pradesh book? I eagerly await it!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 9:22 pm 
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Attachments:
File comment: Figure 120. page 163 of 'Textiles of the Hill tribes of Burma' by Michael C Howard "N'hpye (shoulder bag), 26cmx32cm (BM:GK1)
mh01.jpg
mh01.jpg [ 57.67 KiB | Viewed 17535 times ]

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Last edited by Pamela on Fri Aug 12, 2005 8:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2004 5:03 pm 
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2004 7:36 pm 
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 Post subject: Textiles from Burma
PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 7:46 pm 
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File comment: 2 Kachin bags which appears on the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery website. The bag on the right has been in Gwi Kai Nan's family for more than four generations. She used it as an inspiration for the new bag on the left, which was commissioned by the Muse
kachin_bagse.jpg
kachin_bagse.jpg [ 52.16 KiB | Viewed 17557 times ]

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Last edited by Pamela on Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 8:31 pm 
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 Post subject: Textiles from Burma
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2004 7:28 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2004 8:48 pm 
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Further to my earlier post I have now received permission from the editor of the Oxford Asian Textile Group newsletter and the author to publish in full the review of 'Textiles from Burma: Featuring the James Henry Green Collection' Edited by Elizabeth Dell and Sandra Dudley. The author of the review is Gloria Dudley-Owen.

Ms Dudley-Owen now lives in Guernsey, but previously lived for fifteen years in Singapore where she worked as a guide in the Singapore Museum and was also co-founder of the Friends of Textiles. Her interest in Burmese textiles arose from an extended visit she made to Burma in 1999, after which she studied Burmese textiles at FOM Singapore. She has been a member of O.A.T.G. for a few years.

My thanks to both OATG and Gloria Dudley-Owen.


Attachments:
File comment: Review by Gloria Dudley-Owen of 'Textiles from Burma: Featuring the James hengry Green Collection' edited by Elizabeth Dell and Sandra Dudley.
burmese_textiles.doc [62.5 KiB]
Downloaded 1243 times

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Last edited by Pamela on Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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