Article: Chinese Village Keeps Alive a Tradition of Indigo Dyeing

“For a Dong family, having a loom is just as important as having a cow,” said Lai Lei, the founder of a weaving and dyeing co-op in a nearby village. “As children, we grow up listening to the sound of the loom.”

 

 

 

 

This article looks at the attempts to keep the tradition of indigo dyeing and polishing alive in Guizhou province, southern China. The cloth is dyed evry day for two weeks and then has an application of either cowhide extract or egg whites. The shine is achieved by hitting the cloth repeatedly with a wooden mallet. Deep indigo-stained hands are a badge of honour.

To read the full article please visit the website of  The New York Times

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Article: The Fabled Flatbreads of Uzbekistan

While not strictly related to textiles, this article will surely bring back great memories for the many OATG members who have visited Uzbekistan.

 

It chronicles a love affair with flatbread with the author, Eric Hansen, visiting nonvoy (bread bakers) in Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Urgench.  There are so many examples of the importance of the bread – placing it under a baby’s head in the hope of a long life, under the legs of a toddler to wish them a blessed journey through life etc. Hansen also meets a chekich ustasi (bread stamp master), responsible for making the wooden and metal stamps which form a decorative pattern on the non.

 

To read the full article visit the website of AramcoWorld

Article: Making Sense of Textile Family Trees

In this fascinating article, Chris Buckley looks at the ways patterns in weaving skills and motifs in warp ikats from Southeast Asia can be used to work out family tree relationships between different textiles.

Hook motifs are shared by most Southeast Asian weaving traditions and were present in the last common ancestor of all warp ikat in the region

Hook motifs are shared by most Southeast Asian weaving traditions and were present in the last common ancestor of all warp ikat in the region

One aspect of being human is the enjoyment of patterns. We like to spot familiar forms, and we respond to rhythm and repetition, whether in music, art or decorative designs. Some think these skills are innate: they helped our ancestors to understand their environment, find food and survive. Before writing this piece I spent some time reviewing postings on Pamela Cross’s textile forum and it is remarkable how many of the postings by textile enthusiasts (my own included) relate to the discussion of connections between textiles and traditions in neighboring areas.
Puzzling out the connections between textile forms, motifs and cultures seems to be an irresistible challenge, and part of the enjoyment of the field. Professional scholars are far from immune from the delights of this pursuit: many scholarly books on Asian textiles include observations of the similarities in techniques and textile motifs between different parts of Asia.
Up to now these observations have remained largely speculative, but new techniques hold out the promise of uncovering connections in a more systematic way. In this article I hope to share some of these techniques and some of the excitement surrounding them.

To read the full article in our magazine, Asian Textiles, join the OATG.

Article: Unsung Heroes of Javanese Batik

One of the largest batik workshops in Indonesia is Batik Danar Hadi in Solo, owned and operated by Santosa Doellah and his wife, Danarsih Hadipriyono

One of the largest batik workshops in Indonesia is Batik Danar Hadi in Solo, owned and operated by Santosa Doellah and his wife, Danarsih Hadipriyono

Ian Reed and Greg Roberts are passionate enthusiasts and collectors of old and new batik from the north coast of Java, known as batik Pasisir. In this article, Greg Roberts echoes the rallying call of the late batik maestro Pak Iwan Tirta, for greater recognition to be given to the crucial role of the pengobeng (batikkers or waxers) in the making of batik and to the significance of the filler motifs, isen-isen and tanahan. The rewards of visiting batik workshops and experiencing the batik making process first hand are also highlighted. The article is not intended to be an historical survey of batik Pasisir and doesn’t attempt to define and trace the its origins or its anthropological aspects.

To read the full article in our magazine, Asian Textiles, join the OATG.