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Archives for February, 2009

“New Asian Textile Traditions” Exhibition at the Arts of Pacific Asia Show, San Francisco

February 25, 2009

Cavin-Morris Gallery’s Randall Morris and Mariko Tanaka co-curated a blockbuster exhibition, “New Asian Textile Traditions” at the recent Arts of Pacific Asia Show at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.  Their beautifully curated exhibition included the works of contemporary textile artists Rowland Ricketts, Shihoko Fukumoto, Hiroko Takeda, Paola Moreno, Lidia Syroka and the katazome dyers Nobuo and Toshio Matsubara.

The two, large-scale norens prominently displayed in the center of the photo above are the work of Rowland Ricketts: they are dyed of indigo which was grown by Ricketts himself; a stencil resist method was employed to fix the design to the cloth.  The square format, dark indigo piece to the right of the photo is by Shihoko Fukumoto.

Above is another view onto Ricketts’ splendid, original norens.

Another of Ricketts’ norens hangs center in this photo, while in the foreground is a wool and paper woven piece by the New York-based Hiroko Takeda.

Above are two works by the esteemed Japanese indigo dyer and artist, Shihoko Fukumoto who is known for her deep sapphire-blue indigo which is at once dark and bright.  The vertical piece in the foreground is called “The Moon Shadow.”

Another stunning work by Fukumoto hangs to the left of a resist-dyed noren by Rowland Ricketts.

Centrally placed in the above photo are four silk obis by Nobuo Matsubara.  The obis are dyed in the katazome method; flanking the obis are tanmono, or full lengths of cotton yukata fabric: Matsubara resides and works in Chiba, Japan, and his work with katazome or stencil resist dyed technique is superlative.

Sadakichi Matsubara (1893-1955), the father of  the late Toshio Matsubara, the father of Nobuo whose work is also in the exhibition,  was awarded the distinction of “Living National Treasure” in his native Japan for his exceptional artistry in indigo dyeing.

All photos courtesy of Cavin-Morris Gallery and photographed by Mariko Tanaka.

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An Assortment of Antique Komebukuro or “Rice Bags”

February 18, 2009

Here is a corner of the Sri showroom with a selection of komebukuro, or rice bags, which date from the late nineteenth century to the early part of the twentieth.  Rice bags are so called as they were fashioned from scraps of cloth to create a “fancy” look as they were used to comport rice grains-and sometimes beans, etc.–to Buddhist temple festivals as tribute.

Komebukuro is a general term for these pieced bags, but the jury is still out if each of these was meant to bring rice to temple festivals.  It is my hunch that in certain cases they were also used for home use.

I love the bottom piecing of the komebukuro pictured center, above.  As well, the large, silk piece, below is really fabulous with its botanical dyes, chief among them are the orange/safflower, purple/gromwell root, blue/indigo.  Note the purple shibori pieces at “4 o’clock” and “7 o’clock” on this bag.  Really lovely.

One of the bags below is stitched “Zensuke”, the name of the owner.  I bought a group of these komebukuro which came from the same family, and they hail from Japan’s rural north.

On the photo below, the two bags on the right are not komebukuro: the far right bag is a fabulous, hand dyed and hand painted 19th century chirimen (crepe) silk bag, while sitting next to it on its left is a funny little early 20th century bag composed of indigo dyed kasuri overlaid with commercially produced lace!

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Hali Publishes “Riches from Rags” Article on Japanese Boro Textiles

February 17, 2009

In the current issue of Hali magazine, published in London, I wrote an article, “Rags to Riches: Boro Textiles from Japan” where I attempted to place Japanese boro textiles in historical context while commenting on their status in the world market.

I was very happy for this opportunity to present a comprehensive view onto boro and I hope you can have a look at this issue of Hali (Hali 158, Winter 2008).  You may want to contact Hali to see which bookstores or newsstands near you carry their magazine.

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A Punjabi Phulkari and Two Large Mended Wooden Vessels from Gilgit, Pakistan

February 7, 2009

This is a display of exotic textiles and objects: on the wall is a  phulkari or “thirma bagh” from Western Punjab in present-day Pakistan: it is made of hand spun, hand woven cotton on to which counted thread embroidered red silk floss is applied.

The large, shallow wooden basins–I bought these for their rustic wood and their equally rustic repairs–are from Gilgit, an area of far north Pakistan, quite close to Kashmir in India.  The textile and the vessels look really harmonious together; the wonderful rug beneath the mended Gilgit troughs is a Japanese zanshi kotatsugake which is offered here on my website.

A phulkari (flower work) is a traditional shawl from the Punjab region, which is now divided between Pakistan and India.  The phulkari, which usually shows stylized, floral forms can be used for everyday wear or, in the case of heavily worked shawls, called baghs (garden), using mainly gold colored silk floss, are used at marriages.

From “Traditional Indian Textiles” by John Gillow and Nicholas Barnard (Thames and Hudson):

“The rich agricultural states of Punjab and Haryana are famous for the phulkari (flower work) shawls, that worn with a tight fitting choli and gaghra, formed the traditional costume of rural women of this region.  It was a costume both spectacular and eminently practical.  Phulkaris were made for everyday wear.  Usually the border and field of the shawl were not so densely embroidered, with much of the ground cloth exposed. For ceremonial occasions, however, a special kind of phulkari known as a bagh (garden) was made, in which the whole of the ground was covered with embroidery, so that the base cloth was not visible at all.  On the birth of a baby, the grandmother, after a ceremony of prayers and distribution of sweets to the baby’s aunts, would start to embroider a bagh.  It would take several years to complete and was embroidered with special care to be used later at the grandchild’s wedding, after which it would be kept as a family treasure.”

Phulkaris and baghs are not only beautiful, and the amount of work that goes in to each one is mind boggling.  I tend to prefer the simpler, more “every day” phulkari which is shown here, mainly because it suits my aesthetic, which tends to appreciate forms that speak to a Modernist sensibility.

For example: this phulkari is suggestive of “modern” or “minimalist” art.  This reminds me of the work of the great American artist, Agnes Martin: imagine the five-year-old Agnes Martin with a red crayon and you have this wonderful rustic phulkari!

This phulkari measures 96″ x 53″ or 234 cm x 135 cm.

Phukaris are worked from the back using the counted thread method.

These hewn wooden troughs are just fantastic: the simple, metal repairs add so much to their beauty.  Each is from Gilgit in Pakistan, a remote, mountainous area that, more than ten centuries ago,  was an important stop on the Silk Road where Buddhism flowed from South Asia to the rest of Asia.

Each trough measures around 26″ x 18″ x 7″, 66 cm x 45 cm x 17.5 cm.  If you are interested in knowing more or if you would like to ask about purchasing them, feel free to contact me.

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