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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 10:33 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2004 12:27 am
Posts: 124
Location: Los Angeles, CA
You may be interested in this Tai textile. It is one of my favorites. I have always thought this was a Tai Daeng Piece. I got this in Houa Phan Province. However, Nothing quite makes sense about it. Lefferts shows several of these pieces in his article" Textiles in the Service of Tai Buddhism" in TEXTILES AND THE TAI EXPERIENCE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA.
He states these pieces are "Tai Daeng?" Page 112, 113. If as Mary Conners states the Tai Daeng are primarily animists, why are they having Buddhist bowing cloths? I don't think these are the textiles of the minority Buddhist Tai Daeng, as these cloths are found too frequently to be woven only by the 10% minority. I have three or four myself. So maybe not Tai Daeng. There are certainly other Tai Buddhist groups in Houa Phan. A puzzle. After Sandy pointed out Buddhist imagery in what I thought was a Tai Daeng piece, I am forced to reevaluate whether all of my Tai Daeng pieces are actually from the Tai Daeng or merely from Houa Phan Province. Next time I am there, hopefully soon, I will have to pull out pictures and try to get a consensus.

Lefferts states the random alignment of color blocks link these textiles with ritual cloths from South Sumatra. Which cloths is he talking about?

Lastly, he discribes the color as random. This is very common in many Tai Daeng pieces and other Tai groups as well. I have always been curious as to whether it is random. Or if random, whether it was descended from intentional patterns, the meaning of which has been forgotten. As with the indigo Tai Daeng Phaa Biangs, the Tai have been known to hide symbolism. Any thoughts or links to "random" colors in other groups.


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 Post subject: mahayana vs. theravada?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2004 5:35 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2003 4:52 am
Posts: 162
Location: California, USA
Hi Bill,

What a lovely and intriguing piece. This textile probably is a "bowing" cloth, which may also be placed on the head of a"naak" prior to ordination, and may also be used as a meditation aid. While the colors are not common to the T'ai Daeng, they are certainly within their sphere, although the diamond motif is used by other groups as well.

The random color blocking, which represents the Buddhist principles of impermanence and illusion, is in fact, used by the T'ai Daeng, regardless of their religious leanings.

The diamond (as in "diamond sutra") is yet another Buddhist symbol, which represents the "third eye" of Buddhism. Whence do they come? And how come these symbols reach such technical purity among animists?

Forget the fact that the diamond is a basic shape found among weaving people throughout the world. The diamond amongest the T'ai Daeng is supposedly borrowed from the Mahayanist areas of northern India and southern Nepal. So now we have Mahayana Buddhist symbols found amongst animists, who live in the greatest concentration of Theravada Buddhist outside of Sri Lanka.

The cloths referred to by Lefferts are called "tampam" (I have one posted on my web site - http://www.tribaltextiles.info/S_Shamis/S_Shamis_12.htm ) and originate in Southern Sumatra, where they are are used as offering cloths in ritual exchange. They share the same color blocking weaving techniques found in mainland SEAsia, although their purpose is clearly different. It is this shared technique which points to a structural kinship, and a possible Dong Son layer of symbols.

Some members have posted some wonderful tampam recently. These textiles command some of the highest prices in all of SEasia.

Anyway, the T'ai people have a deep relationship between textiles and their overt expressions of faith. These may be hidden on the surface, but usually are clear to monks and lay people. Why the T'ai Daeng use a Mahayanist symbol is beyond me.

Sandie


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2004 2:45 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2004 12:27 am
Posts: 124
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Sandy-

Interesting about the Tai Daeng using Buddhist imagery, But why Mahayana, rather than Theravedan? If they are using such symbols, this may put light on our previous discussion about my Tai Daeng (?) Phaa Biang and the boat shape that is buddhist image. The question is whether the Tai Daeng have different meanings than Buddhists for the same images.

Could you show an example of a tampan with random color blocks? I have 7 or 8, but they are all in just two or three colors and no apparent random blocks. Maybe I am lost in semantics. Also, interesting if Tampans are the most expensive textiles to buy in SE Asia. Prices must have radically escalated since the '80s.

Bill

Bill


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