Saturday, December 27, 2014

Another Look at Kiminos

Another Look at Kimonos

"Enjoying the Cool at the Ryogoku Bridge", Utamaro Kitagawa,

In my blog,  Modern Kimonos ( November, 9, 2014), I reported on an exhibition at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) which featured over 30 modern kimonos from their collection.

Another famous institution, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is showing an exhibition (through January 19, 2015) of their collection of Japanese kimonos beginning with the Edo Period , 1615-1898.  Not only featured are glorious, beautifully embroidered garments but also garments such as firefighters’ coats, which might be considered rural textiles.

So-called “country textiles” differ from those created in the urban weaving centers.  While many have similarities with those silk, embroidered garments, there are significant differences in style, fiber content and patterning techniques.

Japanese Country Textiles, Anna Jackson, Victoria and Albert Museum, Far Eastern Series, Weatherhill,1997

Japanese Country Textiles by Anna Jackson, draws from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. 
Four chapters: 1. Definition and Acquisition
                        2. The Context of Cloth
                        3. Textile Techniques
                        4. Continuity and Change
explore the variety of textiles commonly referred to as “country” or even “folk”.

This volume offers another insight into Japanese textiles.  The photographs are instructive and there is also a selected bibliography for further sources of information.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Christmas Tradition

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would  be there”.
A visit from St Nicholas, Clement Clarke Moore, 1823

 The People's Home Journal, December 1907
  F.M. Lupton, Publisher, New York

Legend has it that St. Nicholas was traveling through a small village and heard of 3 impoverished girls whose father could not afford dowries for them.  St Nicholas entered their cottage by sliding down the chimney and found freshly laundered stockings drying by the fire.  He filled their stockings with gold coins.

St Nicholas was born in Greece (now the southern coast of Turkey) in the 3rd century.  He is the protector of those in need, fishermen and children.

Christmas stockings made from a 19thC quilt and trimmed with vintage laces and ribbons.


Hopefully your stockings, if not filled with gold, will not be filled with lumps of coal.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Armor-dillo Part 2

Armor-dillo Part 2

Last week, in armor-dillo part 1, protective clothing made of vegetable materials was explored.  Most likely, though, when we think of armor it is plates of metal made into protective suits that comes to mind.

During the 3rd millennium BCE a new material was manufactured for the making of tools and weapons, Bronze.  Bronze is made by alloying copper with tin which was more strong and durable than copper, itself.  The alloy could be beaten into shapes or pored into molds of stone or clay.  While copper and tin were not common, the demand for these ores lead to new networks for trade.

Greek Bronze Armor c1200 BCE

Greek Archaic vase painting

Souvenir postal card of a Chinese Terracotta Warrior wearing bronze armor.  The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, built a massive mausoleum which was guarded by more than 6,000 life size terracotta soldiers.

During the period 1200 – 550 BCE metallurgy produced iron and the so-called iron age was the third of the prehistoric ages: stone age, bronze age and iron age.
 Adding carbon to iron ores produced steel, which was used to make the best weapons and tools.  If insufficient amounts of carbon were added the steel was not as strong.  If too much carbon was added the resultant steel was hard but too brittle.  Iron was not cast but hammered into shape.

Medieval knights wore suits of protective clothing , which included mail or linked iron rings.  Makers of mail could produce “tailored” garments by increasing or decreasing the number of links. A padding called aketon or gambeson made of quilted linen or wool and stuffed with horsehair was worn under mail, but could also be worn separately.

Scenes from the Bayeaux Tapestry: (see blog  8/24/14)  soldiers wearing suits of mail and protective helmets

It is a common misconception that plate armor was heavy and clumsy, impeding the motion of the warriors.  In fact, a full suit weighed approximately 50 pounds.  The advantage of plate armor, was just that: plates that were hinged to each other so that they moved with the actions of the wearer.  Separately moving plates also provided protection for the war horses. 

Body suits of full plated armor, including helmets with visors, gloves and boots.

Modern protective clothing for military, police and fire applications is a topic for a future discussion.