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tribaltextiles.info • View topic - Miao headcloth? No, probably Dong ceremonial piece!

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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2004 2:35 pm 
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Last edited by Pamela on Sun Jan 02, 2005 5:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Wudang piece?
PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2004 9:17 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2004 12:38 am 
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 Post subject: !s it Miao?
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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2004 6:41 pm 
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 Post subject: Pamela's 'headcloth'
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2004 5:19 am 
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First- it's a very handsome piece Pamela! Lovely condition, very skillful weaving and striking design.
Second- I was immediately hit by similarities to T'ai weavings (Hi! Sandie): the overall patterning on a large central field recalls many types of T'ai textiles- headcloths, meditation cloths, shoulder cloths, blankets...; the pattern itself is a star motif which is not uncommon in many areas of the world, but can be readily found in T'ai pieces (see Susan Conway's Thai Textiles, p.133).
Third- Re it being a headcloth or not: Gittinger&Lefferts, in Textiles and the Tai Experience in Southeast Asia, show numerous similar small square textiles, starting with a phaa mon, or head cloth, of the Phu Tai people in Thailand (p.77, #2.24 and p/224-5, #5.27-5.30). These are multi-colored and of a different design, but have clear similarities. I cannot find them referenced specifically in the text, but in the context of the chapter they would be part of gift exchanges at New Year's/Songkran or weddings.
Another square textile is used for about-to-be-ordained boys, as Sandie mentioned, and is called phaa pok hua. The ones shown on p106-7 are a bit different than yours tho, with an open white square in the center, which makes an interesting design device where the center band of patterning is at right angles to that on either side of it.
Yet another square textile is that used for meditation and three examples are shown on p112-13. These differ greatly from yours with the Buddhist motif of the 'third eye', or concentric diamonds in the centers.
I mention all these not to show off, but to shed light on the possible use of such a square-shaped cloth. It could indeed be a headcloth.
Being entirely cotton makes me wonder about Dong provenance, as I cannot recall any Dong textiles I've seen in cotton; usually they are silk. The fineness of weave and geometric patterning do suggest Dong, tho the material does not. The Dong live nearby to Miao and it is often difficult to be sure of exact origin- ie a baby carrier in Bonding Via Baby Carriers (p.112, #33) which is shown as Miao, but here they are called Dong (I've enclosed a photo of an example). Personally, I would love to know more about the Dong people as I am very much drawn to their textiles.
As to origin, many T'ai people originated in SipSongPanna/Land of a Thousand Rice Fields, or the area now known as Yunnan Province in the south of China, and migrated into what is now Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. The T'ai Lu people still live in this area and are known as 'Dai' in China. Miao people are non-T'ai, but often live in close proximity. The only book I have with good Miao information is Clothings and Ornaments of China's Miao People and on p.58 there are an apron and a waistband from Zhenfeng which have overtones of T'ai weaving, and show the star pattern on your headscarf, tho not as an overall pattern, but as one of several forming a concentric diamond.
I guess the question is- Have the T'ai influenced the Miao? And where specifically? Dissertation time...


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 Post subject: Ooops!
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2004 5:22 am 
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I just remembered some Dong baby carriers I have which are woven cotton, tho nothing like Pamela's piece. Sorry.


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Last edited by Pamela on Fri Jan 02, 2009 6:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject: Dong Son?
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2004 11:23 pm 
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PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2004 8:25 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2004 7:30 am 
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James- Welcome ... to the Forum. You are quite right about the Dong attribution, and mea culpa for even suggesting that they do not work in cotton... I did amend that one since I even show some cotton pieces on my site. I was in our infamous Night Bazaar the other night and came across several of the headcloths, but with the bright colored ends that you mentioned, and they were attributed to Dong. Thanks for helping us understand how they are used- very interesting. Re the baby carrier: having not been to China yet, I can only go on what I see here in Chiang Mai, and my sources here are calling the long silk panels, as on the carrier, 'Dong'. Obviously, they must be misinformed. Or could this be a case of Miao and Dong living in close proximity and sharing styles, motifs, etc.? I will be in south China later this month and hope to visit some areas where these groups live. Any suggestions on specific locations?
Thanks,


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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2004 5:37 am 
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Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome.

With regard to the piece posted by Susan Stem, I've done a little more research and pulled some pieces out of my things here.

I have three pieces from Zhouxi. The weaving is silk warp and weft. The width of the weaving is about 20 cm and they're around 65 cm long. Two of them are black and white and one is green and black. I couldn't tell the dimensions from your photograph, but the ratio seems a little off. Could the bottom edge be cut short? The patterns, particularly those within the triangular portions running down the sides are identical.

At the same time I have a photograph from Sanjiang County, on P. 152 of the final volume of the Guangxi series I referenced above which shows a strikingly similar panel attributed to the Dong. The similarity is in the overall proportions of the piece, the central squares running the length and the strangely irregular bands of color striking through the black and white patterns. The difference is in the width (the Dong piece appears to be almost twice as wide.), the patterns (the Dong piece has simpler patterns), and the material used (given the look of the weaving, the size of the piece and the coarseness of the weaving - I'm guessing the Dong piece is cotton).

I'm not sure what to make of the similarity, but find crossover from these regions hard to believe. Zhouxi is in an area outside of Kaili, Guizhou which is almsot exclusively Miao, except for some Gejia to the north. Sanjiang is in the north of Guangxi Province and even today is separated by a few days of travel on rough roads. Sanjiang is a predominantly Dong Region with some Yao and Zhuang villages to the east. If it weren't for those red bands running through the fabric, I would say they came about independently. Can you think of a structural or aesthetic cause for those irregular red bands in the weft?

I spent about two months down in the Sanjiang region living in a Dong village and traveling around to neighboring areas carrying out a research fellowship about seven years ago. Last I heard it was getting a trickle of backpackers passing through on their way between Guilin and Kaili. Accomodations can be rough at times, but I particlarly like the villages in northern Guangxi. The bridge at Chengyang has become the model Dong bridge. There are always textiles about if you let people know you're interested (and sometimes even if you aren't). The area around Longsheng has some easily accessible Zhuang villages, but again gets its share of backpackers. The best Dong weaving (multi-color and really the only silk weaving I'm aware of from the Dong) is found in the area between Sanjiang and Kaili in the Rong Jiang and Cong Jiang areas. Unfortuantely travel through there is a little more challenging and rough. Pieces are also getting expensive. There are lots of areas around Kaili that have been opened to tourists for a long time and there's a little more infrastructure at that end, but almost exclusively Miao villages with a few Gejia villages to the north. I think the best source for info on Miao villages can be found in the travel diaries of this site.

Hope that helps.

James


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