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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:24 pm 
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I have been meaning to post a new item(s) in my collection for a few weeks but have been totally distracted by other things. A couple of days ago I did the whole long post, with all the photos and then, at the last moment, deleted the whole posting page in my browser and lost the lot! It has taken since then to wind myself up to try again!!!! Don't you just love computers - but, of course, it was operator error not machine failure!!

You may remember on an earlier thread which I started about a Yao comb http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... php?t=1129 and it turned out that this is used in connection with a wedding headdress. As part of that thread there was an interesting link to the tribalmania website where some amazing constructions were shown http://www.tribalmania.com/YAOHATS.htm . Well, as you will see from the photos below, I am sharing with you another wedding headdress structure plus a cloth which would be worn with it, together with, no doubt, a whole load of other things - cloth, tassels and jewellery. This structure is interesting in that it is covered with hand-spun and hand-woven indigo-dyed cotton so that the underlying basketry structure is not immediately visible.

It is believed to be from the hills of northern Thailand. It has an internal cap shape, plus a platform, created by basketry from, I think, split bamboo and this does not seem to have ever seen the light of day as it is very pale. It is interesting to note that the construction is very traditional. In the past a bride wore her hair heavily waxed and passing through the crown of the cap and then waxed onto the structure. In Paul and Elaine Lewis' book 'Peoples of the Golden Triangle', p153 under 'Major Wedding' they say:
Quote:
"Before the bride is led in procession to the home of the groom, an elaborate structure is placed on her head. Traditionally the girl´s hair was coated in beeswax, then pulled through a tube projecting from a board which is cut straight across the front and rounded in the back. The hair was then fanned out over the board and plastered down with beeswax."
You can see, by pulling aside the lining inside the top of the crown, that there is a hole in the underlying cane cap where originally the waxed hair would have gone. The top, flat layer of cane also seems to have a round hole in the same place - you can feel it through the fabric - but you can see that there is some criss-crossed cane as a layer between the two holes. The slats for the pointed front are cloth-covered, collapsible additions which are both tied and sewn, or pinned on (as in the photos). See a similar - but not fabric-covered - example of a wedding head structure in 'Peoples of the Golden Triangle´, p.154, upper left corner.

Size: Structure: 18.5"across front x 13.75" front to back x 6" high; with prow 25" front to back.

An embroidered cloth (21" x 24") of the same handspun, indigo cotton came with the structure - this piece would probably lie on top of the layer of textiles, and as such has more attention and work lavished on it. This embroidery is, to me, of interest because it has very little cross-stitch (a very little in the centre square). It is almost as if this stitch might be new or special but not something that came naturally. On page 138 of 'Peoples of the Golden Triangle´ they say that
Quote:
"Diagonal cross-stitch embroidery has come into use during the past 40 to 50 years"
(the book was published in 1984). I remember my excitement when reading this as I was looking at my photos from my 1988 trip and found one of an old lady wearing trousers with no cross-stitch. Of course, I didn't realise when I saw her and took the photo that this was at all special, only from my photos later and book research http://www.tribaltextiles.info/Galleries/Yao/y11.htm - the heart of what we are doing on the forum.

This might seem to suggest that the veil has some decades. Of course, it could have been sewn by an old lady for her daughter or granddaughter but, if it was originally made by a girl for her wedding (and then handed down), it could be quite old. However, I don't think that it has ever been worn as the fabric does not show any marks at all from body oil or sweat which you would think would mark it, even if worn just once especially as the headdress is worn over several days of ceremonies linked to the wedding. There isn't the slightest odour of anything - sweat from wearing or damp or musty as one might expect from storage. The Yao no longer weave. The Lewis´ mention (p138) that elderly Mien
Quote:
"have childhood memories of their mothers weaving all the cloth needed for the family. They grew their own cotton, and spun it into thread either with hand spindles or spinning wheels. Eventually they turned to the use of cloth purchased from the Tai in Laos. Today (the 1980s) most of the cloth used for Mien embroideries in Thailand comes from the Shan in Kengtung State, or Northern Thai weavers in Chiang Kham District. Many Mien women prefer to dye their own cloth, using either chemical dyes or their own home-processed indigo dye."
The colours of embroidery are not those which I would especially identify as 'traditional´ yet if the piece were 'modern' you would have thought they would be brighter. There are even traditional natural dyes - http://www.tribaltextiles.info/articles ... i_Chau.htm (OK, Vietnam not Thailand) which are mauve. It might have been made for export to one of the Mien communities overseas but if so, you would have thought that the 'veil' would have been in that modern, bright, very cross-stitch style they seem to favour.

I would be grateful for any comments you may have. On the surface this is a traditional structure and veil and yet there are some questions in my mind as to the approximate age of both items although perhaps I am exaggerating the lack of soil and odour, the very excellent condition and the fabric covering of the structure. Are they old or are they continuing an old tradition? In either case the head structure is a fascinating architectural piece with a fine embroidered veil and the associated customs are quite well documented. See also pages 55-59 of 'The Yao: The Mien and Mun Yao in China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand´ by Jess G. Pourret.


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Frame_Front.jpg
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Frame_Oblique.jpg
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Last edited by Pamela on Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:53 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
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In my second attempt at posting the forgoing I forgot to credit the super photos to Susan and Robert Stem. Those of you familiar with the tribaltrappings website will have recognised the 'signature' background colour to the photos.

Just to add to my comments above on this very interesting 'sculpture' I thought I would share with you some further feedback which Susan managed to obtain from her source for the structure and cloth:
Quote:
"I do know that it is definitely from northern Thailand and from a Yao group that came here from Laos 70 or 80+ years ago. I just called my source and they said that they got it from a 65 year old woman whose mother made it. We don't know if she wore it or when she made it. I have to wonder, too, if perhaps the embroidery stitches may reflect different communities' style...? Maybe the Yao in the hills of remote Laos used these stitches and handed the technique down and it came here later."
I think that the timing pretty much fits with the comments in the 'Peoples of the Golden Triangle' given that the timing of first using cross-stitch would be 70-80 years ago when you add on the 20 years since first publication of their book to their 50-60 years since introduction.

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PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 4:30 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:35 pm
Posts: 54
Pamela,

I've been meaning to post a big thank you for sharing your wonderful Yao wedding headdress and veil with the forum.

Your description of the construction is fascinating. Looking at the photos I would never have guessed that it was a woven bamboo structure!

I was also quite interested in your ideas about the use of cross-stitch on the veil. I am attaching a few photos of another Yao wedding veil as well as a Yao wedding apron. I was told the veil is from about 1950, and the apron from around 1970.

Both make extensive use of cross-stitch, with the veil being done almost exclusively in cross-stitch (with the exception of a few areas, most notably on the border elements on the left and right edges). It is interesting to note that on the apron, the main motifs are not done in cross-stitch. The implication here could be that "traditional" motifs have not been translated into cross-stitch.


Attachments:
Yao Wedding Veil.jpg
Yao Wedding Veil.jpg [ 63.88 KiB | Viewed 6857 times ]
Yao Wedding Veil detail.jpg
Yao Wedding Veil detail.jpg [ 61.42 KiB | Viewed 6857 times ]
Yao Wedding Apron.jpg
Yao Wedding Apron.jpg [ 69.34 KiB | Viewed 6857 times ]
Yao Wedding Apron detail.jpg
Yao Wedding Apron detail.jpg [ 68.35 KiB | Viewed 6856 times ]
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:39 pm 
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Location: Cheam, UK
Here is an example of a Guoshan Yao Wedding veil purchased recently in London, similar to the above examples.



Image

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:38 pm 
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Here is an older example of a Guoshan Yao wedding veil. I think it compares favorably to the one illustrated in Silver and Silk, the Mingei Museum book about southwest Chinese textiles and jewelry.


It measures 20" x 30" and has 8" streamers hanging from the four corners.


Steven


Attachments:
yao1.jpg
yao1.jpg [ 407.09 KiB | Viewed 6359 times ]

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