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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:02 pm 
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Location: Bristol, England
This summer, I was taken to a Gejia village near Chongan to meet an ancient Gejia woman who is still in possession of some of her traditional clothes. Her name is Li Dayao and she was born in 1918, making her 95 years old. Since there are very few women of her age who still have their old traditional clothes, it is useful to record the batik and embroidery styles that relate to them.

She was the youngest child in a family of 5. Her eldest sister was considerably older than her (possibly born before 1905). By the time Dayao was in her early teens and starting to prepare her own wedding clothes, her eldest sister was already married and settled in Wangba village, which was not too far away from the family home. She was therefore happy to help her little sister make her wedding clothes, a job usually undertaken by a mother or other close relative. Dayao got married in 1936 at the young age of 18 and had her first child at 23.

We didn’t have a lot of time to talk to Dayao or to look at her clothes as her grandson, now the head of the family, did not approve of his grandmother showing or even talking about her old clothes to outsiders. Clothes like hers are now few and far between in the countryside and are worth a considerable amount of money, so the grandson was worried that the house could become the target of unscrupulous ‘Miao’ dealers/thieves who would either cheat the old lady of her clothes or break in and steal them. The grandson could be one of the few members of the younger generation who is happy for his grandmother to follow old traditions and wear her clothes at her funeral, however, it is more likely that he (and his wife) intend to keep the clothes in the house until she dies, not bury them with her but secretly sell them for their own benefit (if they were sold before she died, the proceeds would have to be shared with other family members).

Most of Dayao’s wedding clothes were made by her eldest sister in the early 1930s, although the embroidered leg bindings, apron and hat were made by Dayao herself, being the first items on which young girls practiced their traditional embroidery skills. Of the 3 items that she showed us, the jacket and skirt were both made by her sister, whilst the apron was embroidered by herself.

The jacket is very fine and, because it was made by Dayao’s eldest sister, is of a style that looks older than one would expect someone of Dayao’s age to have made. It has been produced using market bought cotton cloth rather than heavy homemade cloth, which allows for finer quality batik and indicates family wealth. The embroidery on the sleeves includes a band of the older traditional colours red, green and purple, along with other colours including pink that became popular around the mid to late 1920s. (the cuffs also have a band of bright pink cloth and the more traditional light blue cloth, both bought in the market and again being used to indicate a certain level of family wealth).

The skirt, also made by Dayao’s eldest sister, has very fine and even batik and an old style embroidered pattern called ‘mo jiao hua’ (grinding stone feet pattern).

The apron, embroidered by Dayao, includes a piece of batik in the centre that is very fine and probably made by her sister or mother (as compared to the outer batik strip, which looks as if it could have been made by a young Dayao).


Attachments:
File comment: 95 year old Gejia woman, Li Dayao
2013-08-04-(02)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(02)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 75.87 KiB | Viewed 6640 times ]
File comment: Gejia jacket made in early 1930s
2013-08-04-(21b)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(21b)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 76.54 KiB | Viewed 6640 times ]
File comment: Gejia jacket
2013-08-04-(21c)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(21c)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 84.12 KiB | Viewed 6640 times ]
File comment: Detail of Gejia jacket
2013-08-04-(21e)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(21e)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 71.28 KiB | Viewed 6640 times ]
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:05 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 7:12 am
Posts: 143
Location: Bristol, England
More photos


Attachments:
File comment: sleeve
2013-08-04-(26b)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(26b)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 71.75 KiB | Viewed 6639 times ]
File comment: Detail of sleeve
2013-08-04-(28b)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(28b)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 72.52 KiB | Viewed 6639 times ]
File comment: Back panel on Gejia jacket
2013-08-04-(32c)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(32c)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 76.49 KiB | Viewed 6639 times ]
File comment: Gejia skirt
2013-08-04-(34b)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(34b)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 65.95 KiB | Viewed 6639 times ]


Last edited by Andrew Dudley on Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 7:12 am
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Location: Bristol, England
Last few photos


Attachments:
File comment: Detail of Gejia skirt
2013-08-04-(37b)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(37b)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 72.43 KiB | Viewed 6639 times ]
File comment: Gejia apron
2013-08-04-(45b)-China,-Fen.jpg
2013-08-04-(45b)-China,-Fen.jpg [ 69.71 KiB | Viewed 6639 times ]
File comment: Apron
2013-08-04-(46)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(46)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 80.33 KiB | Viewed 6639 times ]
File comment: Detail of Gejia apron
2013-08-04-(46c)-Li Dayao.jpg
2013-08-04-(46c)-Li Dayao.jpg [ 75.84 KiB | Viewed 6639 times ]
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:01 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:03 pm
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Wonderful photos and great documentation with in person testimony of the timeline of production and use. Kudos. So little first hand provenence is ever available for tribal textiles.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:46 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
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Location: Canterbury, UK
I must endorse David Paly's comments! Thank you so very much, Andrew, for taking the time, trouble and your usual care to share this information and photos with us. As you will be aware, this is close to my heart and just what the forum is all about. Also great to have you back on the forum!

Of course I have been mentally running through textiles in my own collection thinking of them against the photos you have posted. I have added a link to this thread to the lead-in pages to the photo galleries on the main tti website for Gejia jackets and baby carriers based on textiles in your collection and that of Bill Hornaday and myself. See http://www.tribaltextiles.info/Gallerie ... ackets.htm and http://www.tribaltextiles.info/Gallerie ... rriers.htm

Aside from the textile provenance info I love the photo of the surely indomitable 95-year old Li Dayao. Such determination shining out!

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Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
on-line tribal textiles resource


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:33 am 
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Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 7:12 am
Posts: 143
Location: Bristol, England
Hi David and Pamela.

Yes, it is certainly helpful for anyone who is interested in tribal textiles to have some background information relating to styles and ages for their textiles, especially as the old folk who have the knowledge (and sometimes the textiles) are becoming harder to find. This old lady was particularly interesting because she was not only 95 years old and still in possession of some of her clothes, but she was also able to talk lucidly about them and her past. Li Dayao was enormously happy to see my Gejia friend because many years ago, before she had married and moved away from her family home, she had known my friend’s father’s family who lived in the same village as her. She had also got to know my friend’s mother, who had married into the village in 1931, and despite being 8 years older than Dayao, had spent time with the younger girls when they gathered together to produce their batik and embroidered textiles for their wedding costumes. Li Dayao therefore saw my friend as a distant member of the family and spoke very highly of her mother’s batik and embroidery skills.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:28 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2004 7:45 am
Posts: 142
Andrew,

What an interesting post and terrific old lady. It makes me want to dig out a couple of old Gejia aprons I bought some years ago and have a look at them.

Thanks!

Steven

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steven frost-arts of southwest china
www.stevenqfrost.net/gallery


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:19 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 13, 2004 4:55 pm
Posts: 64
Location: Netherlands
Hi Andrew,

What a treasure such stories and it is so important to record these textiles. I was in April this year for the first time in Guizhou and for me it was each day as if I was getting presents. So wonderful!
We should try to put all this info into a book so people can share the knowledge.


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