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West Africa

Lisa Aronson

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

West African markets are well known for their tightly packed displays of textiles in rich arrays of colors and patterns, and tailors on their sewing machines can be heard everywhere sewing visually striking garments that seldom go unnoticed when worn in public. So vital and richly varied are textiles in West Africa that even prominent contemporary artists such as El Anatsui from Ghana and Nigeria and Yinka Shonibare from Nigeria are inspired by them as powerful mediums for discourse on historical

Introduction to Southeast Asia

Ruth Barnes

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. South Asia and Southeast Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Southeast Asia comprises two distinct areas, the mainland and an archipelago of islands extending from Sumatra to the Philippines and the Moluccas. Both the mainland and the archipelago have exceptionally rich traditions of adorning the human body. Dress acts as a social indicator, and dress requirements are associated with religious and social ceremonies. The earliest detailed representations of Southeast Asian dress come from religious edifices dating from the ninth century. Ordinary people’s d

Myanmar

Sylvia Fraser-Lu

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. South Asia and Southeast Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Myanmar, or Burma, has a complex ethnic mix, resulting in Burmese, Chinese, and Tibetan dress influences. Myanmar’s earliest, most lasting contacts were apparently with India. Indian concepts of monarchy, with the cult of godlike kings, were adopted in Myanmar. Myanmar kings on formal occasions were known to wear gold-embroidered robes, emulating the gods. The Indian Laws of Manu stipulated that women were responsible for weaving household clothing. Sixteenth-century travelers to Burma recorded t

The Textile Tradition of Malaysia and Its Impact on Dress

Adline Abdul Ghani

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. South Asia and Southeast Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Maritime trade linked the Malay Peninsula to the world from as early as the first to the eleventh centuries. With the Indian Ocean to the west and the South China Sea to the east, the peninsula held a focal position along two major sailing routes. As an entrepôt connecting the East and West, the peninsula was also constantly exposed to new cultures, influences, ideas, technologies, and materials, and throughout history, trade activity in general has been inextricably linked to developments in loc

Yi National Minority

Stevan Harrell and Bamo Qubumo

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Numbering nearly eight million, the Yi national minority is the seventh largest minority in China. Also known as the Nuosu, they live mainly in the hillside and basin areas of Yunnan province, with significant populations in Sichuan and Guizhou provinces, and the Guangxi Autonomous Region. Among the Nuosu Yi people of the Liangshan region, in the mountains of southwestern Sichuan, clothing and decoration reflect social organization and cultural concepts, expressing aesthetic ideals of womanly bea

Indonesia

Itie van Hout

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. South Asia and Southeast Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Diverse cultural elements have shaped the Indonesian archipelago, changing dress traditions. Before weaving was known, leaves, plant fibers, and barkcloth were used for clothing. Cotton, not native to Indonesia, may have arrived from India. Early clothing probably consisted of loincloths and hip wrappers. Later dress, particularly ceremonial, comprised layers of clothing. Textiles, imbued with magical qualities, were crucial to relationships between the supernatural and human worlds. By the seven

Colonial Influence on the Sarong and Kain in Java

Marianne Hulsbosch

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. South Asia and Southeast Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The sarong, a tubular stitched cloth, and the kain, a rectangular cloth, are iconic items in the Indonesian dress lexicon. Both the single rectangular cloth and the tubular cloth are lengths of material that are woven in Indonesia and decorated with ethnic-specific motifs. Men and women drape and pleat a sarong or kain around the body; men drape the kain counterclockwise, and women drape it clockwise. The centrality of all aspects of textiles and the abundance of designs have made cloth a highly

Perfumed Dress and Textiles

Katia Johansen

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Global Perspectives 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Perfumed dress and textiles are standard in every culture, yet virtually none have been preserved. Fragrances were once considered to be the souls of objects and therefore sacred. Incense, used worldwide in religious ceremonies, is often noticeable on vestments. Perfuming was used to mask bad odors, for ceremonies, or simply for appeal. Perfuming methods included using incense, sweet bags, oils, and fuming pans. Perfume is generally made of the volatile oils of plants, grasses, spices, herbs, woo

Textiles of Central Asia

Abby Lillethun

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Central and Southwest Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Textiles play important roles expressing and sustaining ethnic identity in Central Asia, in part by signifying continuity of family and spiritual beliefs. In addition, textiles have been crucial in transcultural exchange processes as trade commodities in economic systems and as prestige symbols in sociopolitical contexts. Further, Central Asian textiles reflect historical influences of internal groups on each other, as well as influences resulting from contact brought by invasions and trading coh

Uzbek Textiles

Carter Malik

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Central and Southwest Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

After the creation of the independent republic of Uzbekistan in 1991, Uzbek textiles, with their brilliant color combinations and decorative exuberance, drew much interest from the international community and fashion experts. Silk wall hangings, ceremonial robes, and ikat dresses from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries began to appear more often in private collections, galleries, museums, and boutiques around the world. Khan atlas (silk satin-weave ikat), suzani embroidery (needlework)

Indigo

Tineke Rooijakkers

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Central and Southwest Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Indigo is a chemical substance made from indigotin, which produces a blue color. It can be used to dye textiles, but also paper and even skin. It is the only natural dye that can produce a colorfast blue that does not fade through sunlight. It is impossible to distinguish between indigotin obtained from woad and from Indigofera plants, as the result is chemically identical. This fact, combined with the relative scarcity of early archaeological textiles, makes reconstructing the early history of t

Living National Treasures: Textile and Garment Artists

Yoshiko I. Wada

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The designation “Living National Treasure” is a Japanese expression of reverence for the highest level of a skill or technique in traditional arts and crafts, including traditional textiles and dress types. The system was initiated to preserve and continue important cultural properties and assets significant to Japan’s rich cultural heritage. The law designates a selected skill of an individual or group as an object for protection.

Batik Dress of Java

Maria Wronska-Friend

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. South Asia and Southeast Asia 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Batik—a wax-resist dyeing technique used to produce a range of traditional garments, is a prominent feature of Javanese culture. Each of the major ethnic groups living on the island—Javanese, Sundanese, Chinese, Eurasian, and Arab, used batik textiles as markers of their identity and social status, which resulted in the development of several regional and ethnic styles. At the same time complex iconography, rich symbolic language, and the high accomplishment required to produce many of these text

Continuation and Change in Tenganan Pegeringsingan, Bali

L. Kaye Crippen and Patricia M. Mulready

Source: Undressing Religion. Commitment and Conversion from a Cross-Cultural Perspective 2000

Book chapter

Crippen conducted this investigation from 1985 to 1999; she attended the key days of the fifth month ceremony almost every year. She used triangulated methods for data collection, including a review of the written literature, oral history, in-depth interviews, participant and pictorial observation of religious and cultural ceremonies, review of pictorial documentation and case studies.

Cloth and Dress as a Mirror of Culture in Africa

Judith Perani and Norma H. Wolff

Source: Cloth, Dress and Art Patronage in Africa 1999

Book chapter

Things that have to be protected must be contained, and things that must be controlled should be contained. Cloth, once it is made into a garment, does both. There are certain kinds of clothes, such as warriors’ and hunters’ shirts, that are particularly known for their abilities to contain and protect. (Hardin 1993: 140

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