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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:33 pm 
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I thought that I would share with the forum a very interesting textile which Susan Stem found for me, knowing of my interest in traditional man's clothing. It has just arrived and I am very, very pleased with it.

The textile in question is a N'men man's pum hrui (or sitting cloth). Size: 113 cm x 36 cm. An almost identical textile can be found on page 156 of Mantles of Merit: Chin Textiles from Myanmar, India and Bangladesh by David W. & Barbara G. Fraser published in Bangkok by River Books in 2005 ISBN 974 9863 01 1. Figs 298a, 298b and 298c. Fig 299 shows two N'men men wearing pum hrui, Bong village. 1960-61. On page 157 there is a description of the pum hrui Figs 298 a, b and c and Fig 299:
Quote:
"In addition to a loincloth, N'men men wear a sitting cloth (pum hrui) that hangs down the back to just above the knees. The sitting cloth in Figure 298a was woven as a single warp, then cut and assembled to create a two loom-width fabric. Typical of N'men textiles, it is decorated with warp stripes. The area between these narrow warp stripes is made more lively by alternating three red with two blue warps (Figure 298b). An 80cm cotton braid is attached from one corner to the other of each short end creating two long loops (Figure 298c). When worn, one braided loop is placed over each shoulder crossing each other over the chest with the cloth lying doubled on the buttocks (Figure 299)."

The N'men are part of the Southern Chin. According to the Frasers (page 141) the N'men live primarily in and around the town of Mindat but also in Matupi and Kanpetlet townships. The pum hrui in Fig 298 (which is so very similar to mine) was made in Lalong Htwe Village in northern Mindat Township in 1942.

I must say that finding such very informative detail and excellent photos in the Frasers' book is very satisfying - and almost justifies my piles of books and significant investment therein! Definitely very detailed specialist reference books are both essential support and a joy for the collector!


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pum_hrui_detail.jpg
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pum_hrui_detail2.jpg
pum_hrui_detail2.jpg [ 94.15 KiB | Viewed 3166 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:06 pm 
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Further to my post above I have been in touch with David Fraser and asked if he and Barbara would allow me to post Fig. 299 as shown on page 156 of Mantles of Merit (full details of their book in my first post). The image is of two N'men men wearing pum hrui, Bong village, 1960-61 taken by Professor F.K. Lehman.

With his positive response David has kindly pointed out to me another of Prof Lehman's photos - Fig 26, page 29 of Mantles of Merit - of a N'men funeral in Bong village, 1960-61. In the left foreground is a man sitting with his knees drawn up and his pum hrui tucked between his thigh and lower leg. I would not have distinguished the pum hrui from the ceremonial blanket which is around the man's shoulders although when it is pointed out the difference in warp stripes of the two textiles can be seen.


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File comment: N'men men wearing pum hrui, Bong village, 1960-61. Photo taken by Professor F.K. Lehman. Fig 299, p156, Mantles of Merit: Chin Textiles from Myanmar, India and Bangladesh by David W. & Barbara G. Fraser
MoMp156f299.jpg
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:59 am 
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Thanks for posting this, Pamela. It is the first time I have seen one of these (despite having the Fraser's book). It is a very handsome cloth, I particularly like the shade of "purple" that is an equal mix of red and blue on close inspection.

I am reminded of the sitting cloths that some groups in Borneo use, though the ones I have seen in the past were made of matting I think. It would be interesting to compare those with your example (does anyone have one?).

The only other thing I can think of that bears comparison is a loin cloth from Hainan (photo below), made from bast fiber cloth. There aren't many examples of men's clothing items around, presumably because they often tend to be plainer than the women's varieties and hence get overlooked.

Also striped. Like a Western business suit, or an Indonesian man's sarong. What is it about male preferences and stripes/checks I wonder?

Chris


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:25 pm 
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Hi Chris

I have just had an email arrive in my in-box from Thomas Murray about a new on-line exhibition 'Stripes' on his website http://www.tmurrayarts.com and I immediately thought of your post.

I quote below some intro to the exhibit - in seems that Thomas is also attracted to the question of 'why stripes' although not necessarily as a specifically masculine preserve.

Quote:
"Bands of color are primordial. The natural world is filled with stripes from rainbows to zebras. As consciousness evolved, so too came the perception of beauty and with it, some geometric patterns, like stripes, being found especially pleasing. This may be gleaned by observing a consistent preference by the earliest humans in the kind of stones they selected to fashion their first tools some quarter million years ago; we note aesthetically pleasing striations whose beauty as the first “striped art” survives as their testament unto today. Physiologists have proposed this preference may be related to the physics of how neural networks process information being relayed from the rods and cones of the eye to the brain. Take for example how we wonder today at panorama vistas at sunset, which often include banded variegation of shade and hue. There can be little doubt that early man also came to appreciate such a view and thus can I speculate that it was the distant horizon itself that could have served as the first inspiration for a color banded weaving.

The technical side of interlacing yarns on looms lends itself to decorating with vertical or horizontal bands. Whether we speak of warp or weft faced cloth, the process of inlaying alternating stripes creates a vigorous dynamic textile pattern. It is easy to imagine the first blanket being covered with black and white stripes taken from the color of natural sheep’s wool. Eventually the discovery and mastery of natural dyes permitted a brilliant range of colors only enhancing the potential for the beauty of stripes as an artistic expression."


Some super images of stripy textiles from very diverse origins with interesting information. I hope other members (especially dealers) will forgive me drawing the attention of the forum to this exhibit but it is great eye candy beautifully displayed as an on-line exhibit. I hope that Thomas will keep it available on his site as it is a great reference incorporating considerable research on each piece.

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