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 Post subject: Dai/Tai cloth via China
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:01 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:33 am
Posts: 155
Location: Beijing
This was described as "Dai, from Xishuangbanna" by the Guizhou dealer who sold it to me. We don't see many pieces like this on the China side of the border and Dai/Tai groups in China don't do this kind of work today, so I am wondering if forum members can shed any light. The first photo is the whole piece, which is in two mirror-symmetrical halves joined together. The off-white ground is an undyed cellulosic fiber, not cotton but I am not sure what. The supplementary weft is silk.

The second photo is a detail from the piece. The green color is very pale so I have enhanced it to show the designs more clearly.

Any thoughts on who, where or what?

Chris


Attachments:
File comment: the whole piece
CET327-1f.jpg
CET327-1f.jpg [ 148.79 KiB | Viewed 4536 times ]
File comment: detail of supplementary weft designs
CET327-3modf.jpg
CET327-3modf.jpg [ 121.47 KiB | Viewed 4536 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:45 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2003 6:34 pm
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Hi Chris-
How interesting! It looks like a Lao-Tai sleeping cloth. But, the green color is curious, as is the non-cotton 'cellulosic' fiber. How can you tell it is not cotton? If the supplementary weft motifs are silk, are the bands that appear to be dark indigo also silk? In Laos indigo is rarely used on silk- only on cotton.

For those who are not familiar with this area, the Tai people are the predominant ethnic group in Thailand, Laos and Sipsong Pan Na/Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan province, China. In China they spell it 'Dai', not 'Tai'. And actually when the word is pronounced in Thai it is 'Dtai'.

I'll see if I can find anything else like it in my books. Nice piece!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:40 am 
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Location: Beijing
Hi Susan

thanks for your comments!

you are right about the dark blue design, I took another look and it is a thicker thread than the rest of the work, probably cotton. About the rest of the supplementary weft I am not sure, I couldn't find any loose bits to pull out and test with a match. The background is a plant fiber, you get that caramel smell if you singe it with a match. I am not very good at distinguishing different types.

I am curious about whether the various Dai people in China used to make supplementary weft items in the past. I traveled to Damenglong in Xishuangbanna in 1999 and saw lots of traditional costumes, but all of them were applique and embroidery. One lady in a market had a long roll of cotton supplementary weft textile with simple geometric designs, looked rather like Dong blanket work, but I didn't find out where it came from. Over the years I have looked out for and bought pieces with supplementary weft when they showed up (rarely), but most have turned out to be pieces that were traded from Dai/Tai peoples over the border in Vietnam, sometimes from quite a long way away. So far the only supplementary weft work on the China side that I have seen that I could be reasonably sure about are those distinctive cotton blankets from the Jing Hong area (that have been discussed on this forum in the past, i will put in the link if i can find it). Then there are those Shan skirt panels that you posted on the forum recently, though as I recall the verdict on those was "probably embroidered" (?). So I am still looking for Tai-style supplementary weft from Dai people. I suppose that when all imported sources are eliminated what is left must have been made locally.

Gittinger and Leffert's book "Textiles and the Tai Experience" has a small memorial banner with tassels and supplementary weft decoration, said to be from Xishuangbanna (fig 2.19), though the designs are different (more figurative). I saw lots of these banner in the temples at Damenglong, though none of them had supplementary weft decoration at that time, most were just plain cloth. The piece I posted here is much larger, sleeping blanket size as you say. It's the best candidate I have so far for Yunnan-Dai supplementary weft work, but I am not sure.

Curiously, most of the other pieces of Tai-style supplementary weft work that I have bought from Chinese traders look like items that Michael Howard identifies as "Tai Dam" from Thanh Hoa and Nghe An provinces in Vietnam, which are a long way from the Chinese border. I don't know why items from that area in particular should end up in China.


Attachments:
File comment: close up of bird design
CET327-3bird.jpg
CET327-3bird.jpg [ 107.46 KiB | Viewed 4373 times ]

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Last edited by Chris Buckley on Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:35 pm 
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Hi Chris-
The textile in the photo you attached does not show up on my browser. I'll try again and see if it will come up. So, without that to go on I looked up the piece you cited in Gittinger/Lefferts and found it to be a fragment of a 'tung', or Buddhist banner, which is a vertical textile of a single panel width that is used in temples and sometimes along the street for commemorative and celebratory purposes. They are used all over Thailand as well. The Tai Lue are especially well known for their 'tung' and we feature one in silk and cotton on our website.

I am not all that surprised to see a textile from Laos or Vietnam showing up in China- the pickers are having to go further to find good pieces, and China is a good market for textiles. I have also found that it is not easy to differentiate textiles from NE Laos from those of NW Vietnam- the people are often of the same ethnicity and due to the sad state of affairs of the 60's and 70's there was a lot of cross-border migration.

I am still very curious about the non-cotton aspect of your textile. If you find out more, do share.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:48 am 
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Posts: 1989
Location: Canterbury, UK
Hi Chris

Can you try re-attaching your last image as I cannot see it either. I don't think it is a browser problem - I have tried in Chrome, Firefox and IE8. I have had a look at your actual post and the file and cannot spot what is causing the problem with the file attached. It seems to be a valid file format. The only way I can think of is if you try again. Sorry!

Best,

PS I have just updated a backup download of all the images on the forum to my computer and the CET327-3bird.jpg image is not there at all. Don't know what happened. Some silly gremlin...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:18 am 
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Location: Beijing
re-uploaded ... now the image is there i think
c.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:11 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2003 6:34 pm
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chris-
I've not had any new insights about your search for supplementary weft weavings in China's Dai areas, but thought you might enjoy a current, physical manifestation of the elephant/bird motif on your textile (the top line of motifs). Among Buddhists this represents a mythical creature from one realm of the Himmapan Forest, or Heaven, in Buddhist belief. Called a 'Nok (bird) Hadsadiling (also called 'Nok Hussadee' according to this fascinating website http://www.himmapan.com/himmapan_bird_nokhussadee.html ), it has the head and trunk of an elephant, but the wings, tail and feet of a bird. Lately, we have seen gigantic representations of it made for funerals of important abbots at local temples. The one below is from Wat Phra Singh, here in Chiang Mai. After the ceremony it all went up in flames.

In Laos they are also called 'Saang Hong' and represent a mythical bird. I cannot help be curious about this motif's pre-Buddhist origins, as it seems to be used by both Buddhist and shamanic groups.


Attachments:
Mail-Nok Hadsadiling.jpg
Mail-Nok Hadsadiling.jpg [ 121.07 KiB | Viewed 4270 times ]

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