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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:51 pm 
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Hello all,

I am an ethnographic art appraiser and am currently working on a collection of mostly Minority textiles and silver. One piece in particular is stumping me, and I cannot find any information about it, much less comparables or an opinion of estimated Fair Market Value. I'm new to this forum, having been recommended to join by Pam Najdowski, a very knowledgeable textile enthusiast I met online through my search for more information. I've been reading these forums with great interest, but still am stumped with this piece:

It appears to be a 'cape' or apron although I may have mislabeled it. It is made of a mesh netting with many feather-like attachments embossed with geometric designs. There are appliqued silver birds at the top. I've seen images of Miao girls dressed in their ceremonial costumes with aprons of similar style, and others with similar attachments sewn to the backs of their jackets; however, I've not across anything similar to the one I have to appraise.

I would welcome any comments on identification, attribution, and authenticity of this piece. I am not sure this is the right forum for discussing value, but first I would like to identify the piece. Pamela and others, if I need to move this thread to the 'buying and selling' forum, please let me know.

Thank you all, and looking forward to learning from you.

Jennifer Lieberman


Attachments:
2007.23.17[2].jpg
2007.23.17[2].jpg [ 391.56 KiB | Viewed 8699 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:53 pm 
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Jennifer

What a very interesting piece. I can't recall having seen anything like it although I tend to focus on textiles rather than silver so there might be an example hidden in my library. Quite a challenge! I am happy that we try and identify the piece on this section of the forum. Unless someone is a collector of minority silver I doubt if anyone will have much idea of value. Certainly silver seems to be valued much more highly by the minorities themselves since it has a very specific monetary value in their communities - and metal can be melted down. For the market outside these communities there is, of course, as you well know, value added by cultural background, scarcity, technical quality amongst other things.

I will be intrigued to see if we come up with anything. We might in time but not necessarily within the timescale which will be useful to you.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:29 pm 
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Jennifer

I think you are in luck! On Sunday I send off to forum member Ann B Goodman a copy of a weekly digest of the forum (as an AOL member she cannot receive auto-generated emails so cannot receive a forum digest). I am amazed how often Ann comes back to me with a mystery solved or a lovely example of something similar to one of the posts.

Ann's message to me today said:
Quote:
"I think that the "silver apron" that Jlieberman has posted is a Yi wedding cape. I am not at home so I do not have access to my books, but I remember seeing a picture of a Yi wedding cape and am longing for such an one. I make the attribution of Yi based on the book that you sent me to copy, "The Yi Nationality of Liangshan Mountain" p.200; Fig.357, where the bird motif is displayed on an enormous Yi felt hat with other silver decoration. I am attaching JPGs. Also I will send JPGs of several other pieces of Yi silver which contain sheet silver cut in knife forms which resemble some of the elements on Jlieberman's piece."


Attachments:
File comment: Fig 357, p 200 in "The Yi Nationality of Liangshan Mountain" showing hat with silver charms
YiSilverfelthat_w.jpg
YiSilverfelthat_w.jpg [ 62.19 KiB | Viewed 8638 times ]
File comment: detail of Yi bird from Fig 357, p 200 in "The Yi Nationality of Liangshan Mountain"
Yibirddet_w.jpg
Yibirddet_w.jpg [ 67.87 KiB | Viewed 8638 times ]
File comment: Yi earrings
Yiearrings_w.jpg
Yiearrings_w.jpg [ 67.25 KiB | Viewed 8638 times ]
File comment: Yi hat finial
Yihatfinial_w.jpg
Yihatfinial_w.jpg [ 66.32 KiB | Viewed 8638 times ]

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 Post subject: Thank you!
PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 1:42 am 
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To both Pams, Ann, Steven, and all the others,

What a terrific resource is this website and forum! I thank you all for reading my posting about the mysterious Yi silver apron...now a bit less of a mystery thanks to you all. I hope others continue to add their thoughts if there are any more to add. The book reference and photos from Ann/Pam are most appreciated.

I had asked several dealers I know about the piece, but they had never seen one before. Sometimes, when no one has ever seen a certain kind of example, I start to doubt authenticity....Which leads me to another question on this same thread:

In your opinions, what are indications of a reproduction (made for sale, not cultural use) or a 'fantasy' piece (e.g. something that doesn't exist or have a use in the culture of origin) for material of this genre?

I've read other discussion threads in the forum about buying/selling and of course followed the comments with great interest. I'm still trying to figure out FMV for this Yi piece, though.

Thank you all again, and I look forward to learning more from you all on the authenticity question.

Jennifer

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:41 pm 
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One example of something deliberately created for sale to tourists which is not in the culture is the wax resist coat created in Rongjiang county which has images of people in the design. See example below. These were never worn as part of the culture but developed for sale. They seemed to appear after the 2000 conference on wax resist in Kunming, Yunnan where banners for each delegate were created (based on ones used in the culture). You often see the coats for sale and, so far, no dealer has admitted to me that they are specially made for tourists.

The image of such a coat shown below is from 'The Traditional Miao Wax Printing' by Yang Wenbing and Yang Ce - page 51, fig 125
Quote:
"The new wax printing products with newly created patterns of human being on the basis of traditional patterns made by the Miao people in Tashi and Pingyong, Rongjiang County to meet the needs of tourism development, once misunderstood as Guzhang clothes."

Something to watch out for is the machine printed 'wax resist' fabric used by some Gejia to make their head cloths (and, I think, aprons). This is not to deceive tourists but to make life quick and easy for the Gejia.

Often clothes are found where older pieces have been inserted. Usually this is fine embroidery which has been reused when much of the previous garment has become worn. This reuse has been part of the tradition since the fine embroidery is precious and represents many hours of work. However, as a variation on a theme, clothes assembled from various 'good' pieces may be made specifically for sale to tourists and/or collectors rather than use in the culture. Difficult to spot and it is a fine line as to whether a basically good garment has been repaired or whether the idea is to mislead.

Such a minefield...............


Attachments:
File comment: The Traditional Miao Wax Printing' by Yang Wenbing and Yang Ce - page 51, fig 125
Trad-Miao-wx-prtning-126w.jpg
Trad-Miao-wx-prtning-126w.jpg [ 76.14 KiB | Viewed 8584 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:40 pm 
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I have always been curious about these wax resist coats. Are only the ones with the human processions the tourist ones?

I do have a batik coat/gown, in a "chang fu" style with the opening down the center. Unfortunately I am away from my collection at the moment so am unable to supply photos. To my eye, mine is an authentic piece. It is on heavy, hand loomed, indigo dyed cotton. The batik work is fine and appears to be hand done. It does not have the processional figures, but does have images of bull fighting and some mythological figures. It also seems to have seen some use. There is wear along the hem and the cuffs. The indigo also appears to have faded, and the cotton softened from repeated washings.

In regards to the Gejia batik, I have noticed several dealers have recently been trying to pass off apparently new Gejia batik jackets as old ones. At first glance they look pretty good. However, upon further inspection, the designs are in fact printed. These pieces are also made of a heavier, machine made cloth, apparently trying to imitate hand made cloth.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:15 pm 
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Jon

I only know (with a fair degree of certainty) that the wax resist coats similar to the one shown in the book are fakes - if they are passed off as part of the culture. i.e. they are true wax resist and use many designs which are traditional but it was not traditional to have images of people. I feel that these are probably based around garments which may be similar and originally part of the culture. Coats with a centre fastening are worn by the Miao in the Rongjiang area although I have not seen photos of coats in the wax resist being worn. These coats seem to be solid at the top but made of 'tails' below. I have seen one example of a wax resist coat (solid on top and tails below) but don't know for sure that it is original but think it may well be - fading, wear etc.

So difficult to be certain one way or the other............

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 1:48 am 
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It seems I do have pictures of the robe in question . . . .


Attachments:
Miao Batik Robe front.jpg
Miao Batik Robe front.jpg [ 59.59 KiB | Viewed 8530 times ]
Miao Batik Robe back.jpg
Miao Batik Robe back.jpg [ 56.14 KiB | Viewed 8530 times ]
Miao Batik Robe detail.jpg
Miao Batik Robe detail.jpg [ 77.36 KiB | Viewed 8530 times ]
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:57 am 
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Jon

...well, it's a super textile regardless and rings all the bells for me!!!! I just don't know if traditional or not but I do know that I think it is great. Thanks for the photos. I love the flow and whimsy in it. Perhaps the 'fakes' really are based on something that existed before. Certainly a technically excellent piece, design beautifully flowing and showing great control of the wax knife.

best

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 3:12 am 
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Location: Bali Indonesia
I haven't checked the forum for a few weeks. Just saw the post on the presumed-apron with silver "danglies".

I have a remarkably similar piece collected in the Pasemah highlands of Sumatra, a district which is rich in Bronze Age and prehistoric sites, and where a relatively archaic culture still prevails.

The piece I have, however was used as a ceremonial veil. The band at the top was meant to be tied around the forehead, with the "danglies" cascading down in front of the face of the wearer.

I don't have a photograph of the piece on hand today, but I will post one as soon as I find it in my office computer.

Cheers,

Susi Johnston
Macan Tidur Textiles
www.macantidurtextiles.com

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:33 am 
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Location: Bali Indonesia
Here's a photo (small, sorry), of the cascading silver headdress from Pasemah.

The part that cascades down from the red-cloth-covered headband is about 70cm long.

The "feather-like" parts that rise up from the headband form a kind of tiara/crown.

There are so many connections to Dong Son period iconography in this piece, and the "apron" that began this post . . . intriguing. The more archaic, inland cultures of the greater Southeast Asia/Southeast China region have many common threads. A topic I find absolutely fascinating to explore.

Of course the "apron" is more finely worked, and more evidently "beautiful" than the rather primitive Pasemah headdress!

Cheers,
Susi
www.susijohnston.com


Attachments:
IMG_2586.jpg
IMG_2586.jpg [ 30.34 KiB | Viewed 8287 times ]

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