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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 8:34 pm 
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I thought that I would share a non-textile but related item with the forum - a Dong thread or sewing booklet from Rongjiang county in Guizhou. It seems that both the Miao and the Dong in this area use a similar style of booklet to hold their embroidery threads, scraps of fabric, paper patterns and other items. I first became aware of them in 2005 when on a trip to south east Guizhou with Gina Corrigan and then subsequently via a project book by and discussions with Ruth Smith, the author of 'Miao Embroidery from South West China' and editor of 'Minority Textile Techniques: Costumes from South West China' (information on both these volumes may be found on the 'Books' section of this forum. Ruth has been very taken by these thread booklets and has analysed their construction, produced the project book to illustrate and instruct and also offers a workshop in their construction.

I spotted one recently on eBay and couldn't resist it. The dealer, who listed it as Miao, subsequently said that the booklet was Dong, from the 'Rongjiang area and at least 30-40 years and highly possible was made during the period of Chinese Cultural Revolution (from 1966-1976)' - interesting but perhaps not correct. I think that it could be Dong as the hand painted decoration on the surfaces of the 8 opening pockets inside are very similar to a Dong booklet in Gina Corrigan's collection which is shown in Ruth's project book. The larger images of sun and dragon on the inner covers remind me somewhat of the decoration on Dong drum towers. In amongst the squiggles and stylised flowers around the opening pockets there are some images which could be political and perhaps why it has been suggested that it could have been made at the time of the Cultural Revolution although I think that this is perhaps placing too great an emphasis on them.

The booklet has quite a complex construction. I think there are 20 different pockets - at least, I managed to come up with that number twice! It is an ingenious way of creating a concentrated filing system for organising threads or other essentials for embroidery which is very compact yet has an amazing amount of space. The outside indigo fabric is in my favourite pineapple weave. The inside is all hand-made paper. Unfortunately it has been subjected to quite a bit of insect munching and I feel that it needs a spell in the freezer to try and make sure that all the inhabitants are dead. I should keep it segregated from my textiles and books. There was not very much inside the various pockets, some threads, a few scraps of red and orange silky fabric and a paper pattern for the sole of a shoe. This has been cut out of a magazine and I attach below photos of the back and front of this pattern. I would be very grateful indeed for any translation of either the captions or the added writing in Chinese script in case it can give any hints to period or place.

I was keen that Ruth Smith should have a look at the booklet, especially as it seem a little different and more complex than those shown in her project book and we are planning to meet up early next month for her to examine it. The details of her project book are: 'Folded Secrets Project Book' and Ruth can be contacted at eruthsmith@btinternet.com

[I met up with Ruth on 5 Nov and we examined my thread booklet together. She felt that there are 17 pockets (not the 20 I thought). She brought with her a collection of the completed information sheets on perhaps about 20 thread booklets on which she has now gathered and been given information. Fascinating!]

As well as photos of my booklet I will also post a couple of photos of one of the thread booklets in use in the Miao village of Wu Jia Zhai, Gu Zhou township, Rongjiang county, Guizhou province. At the time our local guide called this group 'Black Miao' but they are often referred to as 'Short skirt Miao'.


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Last edited by Pamela on Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 8:52 pm 
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one of the thread booklets in use in the Miao village of Wu Jia Zhai, Gu Zhou township, Rongjiang county, Guizhou province in May 2005. At the time our local guide called this group 'Black Miao' but they are often referred to as 'Short skirt Miao'.


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File comment: thread booklet on the knee of sitting Miao woman
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Last edited by Pamela on Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 8:54 pm 
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the back and front of the paper pattern for the sole of shoe found in the booklet


Attachments:
sole-1w.jpg
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 10:03 pm 
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Steven Frost has very kindly had a look at some of the details on my thread booklet where there is Chinese script. There are several images of a red book (see images below)
Quote:
"Book titles like Chairman Mao's quotations (Little Red Book) and Marxism. Definitely from the Cultural Revolution, my guess between 1967-69."


There is some quite large and loose red text down the inner spines of the booklet of which Steven says:
Quote:
"This isn't clear but two of the characters are the "center of the heart" so my guess is its a Cultural Revolution slogan like "Chairman Mao is the red sun in our hearts"".
That could also be echoed by the red sun painted on one of the inner covers.

The printed text on the pattern for the sole of a shoe
Quote:
"The photos are of politicians and the text is about so and so meeting with so and so. The big characters say that "Mom is a good woman", looks like something a kid wrote."
This latter has been written onto the pattern. 

When I first saw the booklet it was the dragons, floral motifs and the sun that I noticed. I did not realise the additional historical significance of the little red books hidden in the images and of the sun itself. It certainly gives it an added interest for me and my thanks to Steven for his help.


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File comment: book image (contrast increased to try and show up text more clearly)
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File comment: "This isn't clear but two of the characters are the "center of the heart" so my guess is its a Cultural Revolution slogan like "Chairman Mao is the red sun in our hearts"
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:26 am 
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This thread has flushed out another thread booklet which is with Steven Frost. He sent me images and information on it which he has said I can share with the forum. What I think is particularly interesting with these thread booklets is that they can contain either within, as part of their decoration or both, clues as to their origin and the era in which they were made. I am a collector for many reasons, not least of which is the fun of the detective work which an item may involve or - if you are very lucky and acquire direct from source - an insight into the culture in which the textile was made. Interesting with these thread booklets, that although they would be very much a personal item of the needlewomen, they are at the same time making political statements. No doubt a matter of discussion as to whether this was done from conviction or to be seen to be doing it!

Steven says of his thread booklet:
Quote:
"This thread/pattern book is from Wenshan County, Yunnan. I found a 1971 ration coupon inside. There are little anti-American Vietnam War era propaganda cartoons (Yunnan borders Vietnam and was an important supply route) pasted throughout as well as precious bits of metallic paper. The thread pockets are made from old cigarette boxes. There is the big square pocket at the bottom and four smaller fold out pockets on top."


Attachments:
File comment: Steven Frost's booklet showing the top of the twisting, folding pockets
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:37 pm 
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Thanks for posting those images Pamela. Here is the cover image you requested. The cover of my book looks nearly identical to yours except mine uses plain, thin black cotton and has a strap which wraps around, rather than a carrying handle like yours.
The top and bottom flaps fold in and the strap (green army uniform cloth) wraps around.
The characters in the star are "ba yi", they represent the most important army of the Communists which fought against the Japanese and eventually unified China.
Chairman Mao and the politics of the Cultural Revolution were omnipresent in every aspect of Chinese life at that time, even remote villages, as is evidenced by these two thread books.


Steven


Attachments:
book1.jpg
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:51 pm 
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Steven

Thanks very much for this overall shot which shows the material cover of your booklet. It is difficult seeing parts of the booklet to fit it into a full 3-D image in one's mind.

My fastening is also a tie which winds around and can be knotted. The photo(s) just gives the impression of a handle.

Much of the time we tend to think of the different minorities as separate and living a life apart. Yes, before the increasing infrastructure building they were 'distant', but yet, especially within the relevant period, very much part of the whole.

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 Post subject: More Thread Books
PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 10:20 pm 
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I've been trying to post photos of three more booklets which I purchased in Kaili, Guizhou in the past two years. I will try posting them one at a time. I am not sure if they are Dong or Miao since I did not buy them in the villages.


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 Post subject: Seacond Thread Book
PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 10:24 pm 
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This is my favorite one because of the charming drawings.


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 Post subject: Third Thread Book
PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 10:28 pm 
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This book has a great calendared cover with a woven closing ribbon with attached coin.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 12:13 pm 
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Whilst giving information on the Books section of this forum on a newly published book 'One Needle, One Thread: Miao (Hmong) embroidery and fabric piecework from Guizhou, China' by Tomoko Torimaru http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... =3990#3990 I quoted some information given with a beautiful photo on page 2 of a thread/embroidery booklet which I thought that I should add to this thread:
Quote:
"This handmade Miao embroidery case, a ubiquitous accessory in Pingzhai, Qiandongnan resembles the Han period (206 B.C. - A.D. 220) artifact zhenyi (found in Mawangdui - No.1 grave in Changsha, Hunan)."

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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 5:35 pm 
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I am very grateful to the network of enthusiasts who have brought to my attention some further information about my Dong thread booklet. Gina Corrigan is just back from Guizhou and whilst there, to help Ruth Smith with her research on thread booklets, showed a print out of this forum thread to Wang Jun (who is also a forum member). Wang Jun is an experienced tour leader in Guizhou and has organised and led several textile tours for Gina (including 3 in which I participated). Gina was sharing thread booklet feedback yesterday with Ruth Smith and Ruth kindly contacted me today!

Wang Jun thinks that my booklet - based on the image which I have reposted here - is earlier than we originally thought. He thinks that the book illustrated is the precursor to Mao's Little Red Book and was written in the 1950's and titled 'Articles Written by Chairman Mao'.

Fascinating that these utilitarian thread booklets, support for sewing, are such interesting mirrors of social history. Perhaps also interesting in our throw away society that something based on paper is so enduring. Such fun that textile sleuthing turns up further nuggets of information - my thanks to all concerned!


Attachments:
File comment: detail of Dong thread booklet shown above
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:57 pm 
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Wow! I am very interested, as many of us would be, to have access to dated thread booklets. We all see the changes in yarn pallets over the decades throughout the southwest of China and into adjoining regions. Wouldn't it be great to have samples of various yarns collected from dated booklets? This would really help establish minimum dates for antiquity - such as - it cannot be any older than a certain date because the yarns used were not available until a certain date.

While on the subject of dating textiles, it would be of great value if someone would study the origins of the commercial printed cotton textiles that are incorporated into many of the southwestern Chinese and Southeast Asian textiles we collect. They were largely produced in Chinese factories and should not be very difficult to date - given that someone wants to do a textile factory survey on the ground in China. Every textile factory I have ever visited keeps swatch books.

Is anyone out there interested in sponsoring a Chinese grad student to carry out this research? There will be no better time to get results in that realm...

Anyway, just a recurring thought while enjoying textile collections.

Rob

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 Post subject: Dong thread booklet
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:01 am 
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Dong lauqered thread booklet
This one has also been covered in black cotton - which hides the many intricate dragons and butterflies painted on the outside. There are actually 23 different compartments fashioned from the folding with built in expansion folds! I particularly enjoy the incorporation of eight folded boxes which can be seen in the second image.


Attachments:
File comment: Inside of booklet
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File comment: Folded box compartment (opened)
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 Post subject: Translation
PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:06 am 
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Possible translation of 子路问净 appearing on Pam's image WD-13.7.jpg.
I think this picture may represent one of Confucius's disciples, Zǐ​ L√π (the official-looking scholar in blue with top knot on the right).
The characters written on the side zǐ​ l√π wèn jìng may be loosely translated as "Zi Lu asks the way".


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