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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 4:08 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
This panel from a coat came into my possession. It has some of the finest embroidery I have seen. I am sorry the dark blue- purple makes it hard to get a good photo. It's much darker in real life. The color is something I can't quite get balanced on Photoshop. It is gorgeous.

Anyone have any more info? Thanks.

Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 7:13 pm 
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Bill,

This is indeed amazing! So unlike the usual bright red that we are so used to seeing for the Shidong Miao in Taijing county.

My only thought is that it was created by/for and old woman since dark colours are thought to be so much more suitable for the elderly and not those trying to attract a marriage partner.

Either that or it came into contact with some amazingly bright light which bleached out the colours.....

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 7:52 pm 
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Pamela.

The only reason the pictures are visible at all is that I really jacked up the brightness and the contrast. In person to see the work, you have to hold the piece up to the light at a particular angle. Otherwise, you would simply see 8 1/2 by 11 inches of blue/purple black with no definition past a couple of inches..

It's interesting that someone would make a piece, especially such an elaborate one where that kind of mastery couldn't be seen. The quality of one's weaving is such a status symbol in a villiage, as both an attraction for a potential marriage or a statement of class.Plus, I have found that the finest weavers and embroiderers are great showoffs.

It may be the gift of a younger woman for a shaman or grandmother. In most of these tribal cultures the really fine work is done by younger women.My first thought is that the piece was for a shaman and was symbolic and didn't fit in in the showoff category and was purely for ritual. I am dissuaded from this theory by the fact that the iconography of the piece is goats, butterflies flowers. On the other hand, there is one dragon(?) These figures don't seem very shamanesque.

Bill


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:04 am 
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Bill- this piece is interesting for several reasons: aesthetically, the fineness of the embroidery evidences great skill; the imagery is quite rich- I detected bats, flowers, stylized birds, butterflies; and the dark color is unusual. I found a brighter example in Clothings and Ornaments of China's Miao People on p.47; in English it states that "In the using of colour, one kind of the festive dress is in the main red. ... The colour of another kind of festive dress is blue. The dress is called 'oushe' in the Miao language, which means "dark dress". Also, "There is a great variety of ornamental designs with meaningful contents. Some depict stories and legends or sing the praises of the valiant and industrious people of the Miao nationality." One thought I had was that perhaps it was overdyed to achieve the dark color, or with washing a dark dye was fugitive and made it darker than originally. Of course, if there are any white or light colored threads in evidence, this would not be the case. I can't tell much from the photos about this, but you might be able to with closer examination. Thanks for sharing this with us!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 7:29 pm 
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Your dying theory is interesting. However in this piece the embroidery is done on cotton indigo material. The threads, which are certainly unraveled as it says in the book, are blue and purple. As I look at the piece I am sure you are right about the overdying. Not dipping the piece, but spreading darkening dye on the face of the piece with a brush or their fingers. The embroidery is so fine, they were certainly careful. On the face you can distinguish beween the blue and the puple, but only at a distance of a couple of inches.

This brings the question of why they would create such a spectacular piece of embroidery, which took a concerable amount of time and care, and they do it in such a way as to make it invisable to others? That's why I thought it had religious purpose, rather than was for ordinary or holiday use. I am reminded of the black Tai Daeng shaman pha biangs, which have such dense designs that they become undecipherable except at a close distance. The desins allegedly are so dense as a method to fool evil spirits.

Thanks for the comments.

Bill


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 Post subject: indigo over-dyeing
PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2004 2:09 am 
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Bill

I am currently in Guangzhou - unfortunately working and nothing to do with textiles. However, in an antique shop in the hotel I managed to find some minority textiles and had a pleasant (if expensive!) time going through them all. I had a chance to have a close look at a jacket which had fine work created from braid. I cannot remember the name of the village and don't have access to my library to refresh my memory. What was very interesting was that the whole jacket was indigo including the inserted panels of braid-work scrolls which were quite fine. It was quite clear that the panels had been over-dyed after they had been created and not made from indigo braid applied to indigo cotton. It was possible to see this by tweaking the braid and finding, in some places, where the dye had not covered quite as well because the braid had formed a resist against the background.

I believe that this over-dyeing is quite common for clothing that is going to be worn by older women. This will be done in many different groups of Miao. I have seen it in other pieces that I have come across.

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