SAVANNAKHET, Laos: The fashion world loves indigo, but its popularity stretches back for centuries.
In Japan, this deep blue colour was worn by aristocrats and samurais. In India, its paste was dried into cakes and traded along the Silk Route, by which it entered Europe. Indigo was known in ancient Greece as indikon, which literally means ‘Indian’.
Today, indigo is the most popular colour for denim worn by millions of people worldwide. Every year, tens of thousands of tonnes of indigo dye is produced but most of it is synthetic. Its natural version is harder to find as the extraction of colour is done by hand in a complicated and time-consuming process.
In 2008, the Lao government launched a programme called One District One Product (ODOP) with help from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Focusing on Savannakhet and Saravanh provinces, ODOP is aimed at improving local livelihoods through the promotion of marketable products for export.
“It has helped reducing poverty, improving the lives of the people in the village and creating jobs,”
To read the full article go to the website of CHANNEL NEWSASIA
Up until fifty years ago, weaving was not an year-round activity. Bhujodi’s inhabitants dedicated half of the year to farming, and the other half to weaving. But due to climatic shifts that caused inconsistency of the monsoon and its consequential lack of water, farming became less reliable. In order to sustain a living, the shift to weaving became the community’s main livelihood.
The village of Bhujodi is now full of weavers. But how does one distinguish the quality of a weaver’s work from that of another, beyond that relative degree of “taste” that one may own, or years of expertise most people do not possess? Dinesh’s response is humorous and poignant: “It’s just like handwriting. Some have good handwriting, some have bad handwriting.”
Good weavers work with their mind. The mind needs to “see” the pieces. Some people do not see it. But those who have been the benefactors of generational continuity see it. According to Dinesh, it is not just about weaving–the mind needs to be trained. They have lived with the art and have been weaving for generations so they recognise what quality needs to be.
Read more about these master weavers, along with some stunning photography and video on the Moo Won website
“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
Exhibition dates: 5 October – 5 November 2017, Wednesday to Sunday, 3–7pm
In Paris this month is an exhibition on the Japanese textile tradition of boro (some of you may have seen this exhibition at Somerset House in 2014). Translated as ‘rags’ in English, boro is the collective name for textiles – usually clothing and bed covers – made by the poor, rural population of Japan who could not afford to buy new when necessity required, and had to make ends meet by piecing and patching discarded cotton onto existing sets, forming something slightly different each time they did so. Generations of Japanese families, from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century, repaired and recycled all kinds of textiles, from fishermen’s jackets to futon covers, handing them down, and weaving their own sagas and stories through the threads.
This cultural practice is now long vanished. Unused boro textiles tend to be put aside, thrown away or sometimes even destroyed by a society embarrassed by its past. As a result, they are now a rare find. This is a stunning collection of unique Japanese patched indigo textiles, which appear to transcend their origins to become exquisite objects of abstract art.
For more information, visit the website of La Frontiera Gallery, Paris.
Event date: Friday 1 September 2017, 2–3:30 pm
This event, to take place at Leeds Discovery Centre, is associated with the current exhibition Katagami – The craft of the Japanese Stencil exhibition at ULITA, which runs until 7 December 2017.
A chance to see and handle a broad range of Japanese textiles at the main store of Leeds Museums and Galleries, which has lent several pieces to the Katagami exhibition at ULITA. World Cultures Curator, Antonia Lovelace, will show examples of luxury and folk fabrics including fabulous embroidered wedding Uchikake, indigo tie-dyes, delicate appliqués and zori and geta footwear.
This event is free; however, there are limited places available. Please book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephoning 0113 3782100.
Leeds Discovery Centre is on Carlisle Rd, south of the Royal Armouries. Visit leeds.gov.uk/discoverycentre for information on how to get there.
For more information, visit the website of ULITA (University of Leeds International Textile Archive).
Exhibition dates: 12 July 2017 – 21 January 2018
Diligence and Elegance: The Nature of Japanese Textiles presents over 50 textiles and garments from the Textile Museum of Canada’s collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century artifacts made in Japan for both everyday and occasional use. Luxurious silk and gold fabrics produced in Kyoto’s professional weaving workshops are juxtaposed with domestic indigo-dyed cotton, plant-fibre cloth, and silk kimonos crafted in an astonishing spectrum of time-honoured techniques – weaving, dyeing, hand painting, gold foil application and embroidery – that exemplify venerable social and cultural values. The exhibition focuses on the highly refined skills and materials by which textiles have been constructed and decorated over centuries, and on how diligence and ingenuity have shaped their timeless beauty. The persistence of traditions seen in such rigorously executed textiles has come to embody the heart of Japanese aesthetics. Every material, colour and technique has a story to tell.
Diligence and Elegance features the contemporary work of Hiroko Karuno and Keiko Shintani, two Japanese-Canadians whose consummate craftsmanship and philosophies are profoundly connected to the evolution of Japanese textile traditions of spinning, dyeing and weaving. Their internationally renowned artistic achievements are testimony to the ethics of labour associated with a lifelong investment of time, practice and precision; they position living traditions as opportunities for personal reflection and the acknowledgement of the significance of collective human accomplishments.
For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Canada.
Event date: Wednesday 15 March 2017, 9.30 am — 11.30 am
Indigo, ‘King of Dyes’, has been in continuous use for over six millennia, traded worldwide for use as blue dye, paint pigment and medicine. Its unique chemistry makes it suited to all types of textiles, whether prestige silks or popular blue jeans, as well as paint for frescoes, manuscripts, etc.
In this richly illustrated talk, to be held at the Bodleian Library, Jenny Balfour Paul, author of three books on indigo, international lecturer and traveller, will cover all aspects of this beautiful and fascinating blue, as well as indigo’s increasing popularity as a sustainable dye.
Booking: This event is free but places are limited so please complete the online booking form to reserve tickets in advance.
For more information, visit the website of the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Event date: Wednesday 16 November, 6 pm
Jenny Balfour Paul (of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University) will give an illustrated account of her adventures in the heartlands of India’s Raj, Polynesia, the South China Seas and Arabia, in search of Thomas Machell, indigo planter and explorer, whose remarkable journals she found in the British Library.
This event promises to be quite popular. The maximum capacity of the Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Room is 70 and, rather than have to turn people away on the evening, the Friends of the Pitt Rivers have decided to set up a booking system. Tickets are free of charge, but you do need to reserve your place.
Location: Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Room, Oxford
To book your free place at this event, visit the Eventbrite booking page.
Exhibition dates: 9 April – 9 October 2016
‘Mood Indigo: Textiles From Around the World’ honours the unique ability of the colour blue to create many moods in cloth.
Drawn primarily from the Seattle Art Museum’s global textile collection, ‘Mood Indigo’ illuminates the historic scope of this vibrant pigment.
The exhibition features a set of tapestries from Belgium, a silk court robe from China, a vast array of kimonos from Japan, batiks and ikats from Indonesia and Africa, and ancient fragments from Peru and Egypt.
An immersive contemporary installation devoted to indigo by Rowland Ricketts will be accompanied by a soundtrack by sound artist Nobert Herber that unveils the musical nuances indigo can suggest. From the sultry darkness of midnight to the vitality of a bright sky, come let the myriad blues in their multiple forms surround you.
For more information, visit the website of the Seattle Art Museum, USA.