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tribaltextiles.info • View topic - Mystery blanket

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 Post subject: Mystery blanket
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 2:33 pm 
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
OK everybody- put on your thinking caps! I found this recently and the only thing I was told is that it might be from China. I've never seen anything quite like it: the colors look to be from natural dyes; the weaving is not real fine, but precise and tight, and it's woven in two panels; the material is cotton; it is about 60"x30". Thanks!


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 Post subject: mysterious
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:52 pm 
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Hi Susan,

A few comments: 1. do you think that gorgeous blanket is sewn in two because of a narrow weft loom? 2. what do you think of the random coloring within the guls? 3. is the blanket backed?

The color patterning is very similar to the use of randomness in T'ai textiles. Not only does random coloring create visual interest, it also express two principles of Theravada Buddhism: impermanence and illusion.

This is a very sophisticated textile; while the swastika is found throughout SEAsia, it is less common amongst the T'ai. My guess, a T'ai group close to India,and /or Southern China but not from a cold area, unless of course, the blanket has backing. Shan? Dong? Dai?

I could be wrong of course.

Enjoy it, it's spectacular.

Sandie


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 Post subject: Interesting Piece
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:54 pm 
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Susan-
I haver never seen any textiles with this combination of iconography and design. The edge swastika design seems clearly of Chinese inflence in terms of how the swastike is woven. The Tai groups in Laos do make traditional use of the swastika. The tribal group in Burma that commonluy uses the swastike is the Kachin, But the Kachin don't use the other designs in the textile. I'm not sure I remember anyone else using it in Burma, but I don't know the variety of styles existing in the Shans.

The reason I mention the Shans is the clear Tai inflence in the birds on each end. The concept of repetative patterns is common in the Tai groups, particularly the Tai Daeng in blankets of the type shown in Richard Mooks topic below "Is it Karen." Comparing your piece to his shows the similarity of styles between the two pieces. I noticed that the design in the diamonds is a little different in each row. I don't think I have ever seen that in repetative patterns like in Tai Daeng blankets like Richard's. This is unlikely because in pieces of this type of repetition the weaver would use the work-saving pattern sticks. See the coffin cloth in GitengerLeffert's book , photo 5.35 page 222. Makes me think this was woven with a loom other than the traditional Tai loom. The Tai will certainly do something fancy, but usually won't waste any time when it isn't necessary or they are not showing-off.


The birds at the ends provide another strong clue pointing to the Tai. This design family is clearly Tai and is different from the zoomorphic designs of the other groups. The biggest similarity to this design, other than the Tais. is that of the Guatemalan indians, but that is a different topic altogether.

In summary I would bet heavy money ($3.00) that this piece is from one of the smaller Tai groups, but one on the periphery of the Tai areas- Yunnan, Vietnam, Burma or even India. A group without the influence of the Lao and Thai Tai.

But then I guess and make up stuff alot, so the above could be all nonsense.

Bill


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 4:16 am 
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Sandie- Thanks for the thoughtful answer. Re your questions: I cannot really speculate about the loom, but why else would they weave it in two pieces unless the loom was narrow, possibly a backstrap? It does not have a backing. And as to the coloration of the 'guls' (interesting use of a term I associate with Turkoman weavings), I even wonder if the pale versions of the other woven colors could be hand-applied after the fact as is seen in Sumba supplementary warp textiles (not ikats). I don't have the blanket in my possession, so cannot check right now. Maybe it would be useful to photograph the back too; actually one can learn a lot from the backs of textiles. As to the randomness... it does have its meaning in the religious and spiritual lives of many of the peoples of this region. I, however, am clueless!

Bill- Thank you also for a thoughtful answer. It does have some familiarly Tai qualities to it, but with a twist. I appreciate your reference to the Gittinger text which I am just getting into and now have even more incentive to do so. I also perused my references by Patricia Cheesman who writes a lot about Tai textiles, but have found no examples even vaguely similar, other than the bird iconography and the repetitive center field. I'll not challenge your bet, only your self-deprecation.


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 Post subject: Another similarity
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 3:18 pm 
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I just remembered where I saw that kind of border on a loatian piece. There is a group in or near Houa Phan Province, that I do not think is the Tai Daeng, who weave an unusual weave Tung (banner or funeral cloth to be hung from bamboo). Gittenger calls it a weft-faced compound weave. YYou have to see it to know how unususal it is. A picture of one is shown in the Gittenger-Lefferts book at 134 (the one on the right) It mostly has only a few colored threads (most predominate is Orange). I think that is the only ppic in the literature. Well, while the cloth shown in the book is unusual, it is not similar to your piece. However, I have another piece from the same group that has the same weave, but has several large tigers,surrounded by a border very similar to the border on your blanket. I will try to drag it out from some chest and take a pic.

Bill


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 29, 2004 4:57 am 
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 Post subject: is it Vietnamese?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:57 pm 
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 Post subject: Tay and Nung 'Tho cam'
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:48 pm 
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Last edited by Pamela on Sun Jan 02, 2005 2:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 11:36 pm 
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 Post subject: colour
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2004 10:37 am 
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Bill

My thoughts exactly re colour! I hunted through those pages in the book to find a specific text reference to figures 4 and 5 but could not find it as.

However, the comment of less colour specifically relates to clothing and yet the photos are of blankets. Do you think that this might be where the apparent contradiction lies? It could also be that traditionally the colour was less but an enthusiasm for newer chemically dyed thread has got rather out of hand.

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 Post subject: T'ai Dam costumes
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2004 1:42 am 
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 Post subject: T design or swastika
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2004 1:05 pm 
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Last edited by Pamela on Sun Jan 02, 2005 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2004 11:35 am 
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 Post subject: thanks all!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2004 3:59 am 
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2004 4:02 pm 
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