The Fabric of Life
The word boro means ‘patched together’ and here refers to the indigo-dyed patched-together garments of the Japanese rural population. Expensive cotton fabrics were reserved to the upper classes. As worn-out rags, they found their way cheaply into the hands of the peasants, who patched them together to create impressive garments of great aesthetic charm.
In their minimalist beauty, these recycled textiles stand not only for artistic creativity and the positive affirmation of the transitory nature of all existence, but also for respect for the natural material and the work of the hands.
The precursors of the boro textiles were the kesa, the garments worn by Buddhist monks, which were also patched together as the outward expression of the Buddhist ideal of poverty. Outstanding monks’ garments from the museum’s own collection have been incorporated into the boro exhibition.
By chance, I got to own a piece of boro, a futonji which became a wall hanging at home. Would have love to go to see this exhibition. If you are near Cologne please go to see the exhibition!
28 March to 2 August 2015
Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln
The composition of the embroidery is based on a scene in the Beijing Opera – Return to Jing Zhou.
The story was set in the 3 Kingdoms Period,
WEI – led by East Han chancellor Cao Cao, adviser Sima Yi
WU – led by Sun Quan, adviser Zhou Yu
SHU – led by Liu Bei, general Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun, adviser Zhu Ge Liang
Sun Quan and Zhou Yu (WU) set up a plan to get Liu Bei (SHU) to hand over his strong hold Jing Zhou. Sun Quan has a beautiful sister, to lure Liu into the trap, he proposed to Liu Bei for a marriage to his sister, a union of the 2 kingdoms. Liu Bei in return would have to go to WU for the wedding. This is a proposal Liu Bei cannot lightly turn down for the sake of his kingdom. Sun Quan however has no real intention of marrying his sister to his enemy, he would wanted to capture Liu Bei and and force him to hand over his kingdom. Luckily before Liu Bei’s departure, his wizard adviser Zhu Ge Liang see through the trick and handed 3 notes to Zhao Yun and asked him to escort Liu Bei to Wu. When Liu Bei crossed to Wu he opened the first note, it asked Liu Bei to visit the father in law of Sun Quan. Impressed by Liu Bei and thinking that a union of the 2 kingdoms is a good idea from Sun Quan, the in law asked for Sun Quan’s mother for her approval for the marriage. The empress dowager agreed and the marriage went ahead. Sun Quan found out he has lost his sister, set out to detained Liu Bei in Wu. Liu Bei opened the second note, it asked for a faked report that Jing Zhou was being attacked by now their common enemy Cao Cao (WEI). Having a great excuse, Liu Bei together with his newly married wife and his men left Wu for Jing Zhou. Sun Quan found out and had his general went after them. Liu Bei then opened his third note, in the note it asked him to leave the defense to his wife. Now in love with Liu Bei, the princess gave the general a hard time and refused to return to Wu. When Liu Bei returned to Jing Zhou, Sun Quan’s army was confronted by Liu Bei’s general Zhang Fei and badly defeated.
A common Chinese phrase came from the story, 賠了夫人又摺兵 (not only losing the girl but the battle as well) – something similar to the phrase “throw the helve after the hatchet”.
Click here to see our wood block prints which also depicted the same opera.
L400mm, Hong Kong
It’s a smiley,
have a good week!
Something Old Something New
Collectible Jewellery Collection
The embroidery for this child’s du dou (traditional under garment) departed from the popular theme of blessing; that of fertility, protection, etc.
It is unusual for the embroidery to depart from the generic themes of blessing, I have a feeling that the embroidery is the portrait if of the child the du dou is for, a chubby naughty boy who is the darling in her mother’s eyes.
Click to see our other du dou.
In the center of the du dou (traditional Chinese under garment) is an embroidery of the Goddess of Child Delivery, the Taoist goddess who is in charge of fertility and child bearing. The young wives would worship the goddess by offering sweet and fruits in the temple, a “cim” stick would be drawn, a lucky cim would meant the goddess has granted the woman’s wish of having a child, a small jacket would then be put on the child figurine which the goddess is holding. After the child is born, the mother would return to thank the goddess with a feast of offering.
This shoulder bag is from the Bai tribe of China.
Composed of embroidery, patchwork, though colourful has a beige handwoven cloth as the base for the bag.
White is the colour for the Bai tribe (Bai meaning white), they based their costume on this colour, the noblest of colour.
This costume belonged to the Sanjiang Dong Tribe of the Guangxi area.
The garment is made with handwoven fabric with brocade trimming around the collar and placket, a decorative embroidery trimming is added to the bottom of the jacket. It would be worn as an opened jacket revealing the embroidered du dou that is worn underneath.
Still looking for a hat for the Halloween?
The creature on top of the hat is not an alien or a monster but a tiger. This powerful animal has been a subject for worship, its strength and fearless image offers a kind of protection and aspiration for the Chinese. Along with other costume of the tiger theme, the tiger hat would be given to the child by the parents on Chinese New Year so the child can be protected for the rest of the year.
Click here to see the other tiger costumes.
A piece of hand embroidery from the minority tribes of the Yunnan province. A simple geometrical composed with x-stitch embroidery, this piece consist of 3 trimmings for sleeves or pockets, adding some fine details to the costume.