Tag Archive | Resources

Art Streak, Days 4 – 9

kosode_green_material

The canvas-weight shibori patterned material that I am taking apart to repurpose. Tried to make a kosode from it, but it is too thick and scratchy, and lining it would make it too warm. So it will be made into something else, probably some kind of carrying bags. I got the material cheap when Hancock’s went out of business, $11 for 9 yards.

Day 4 of 100 Days of Arts and Sciences. Soprano recorder practice, more on the kanji radicals workbook, shodo practice, pulled together some of my Japanese doll research to answer a question on SCA Japanese FB page.

Day 5 of 100 Days of Arts and Sciences. Practiced tenor recorder, wrote a couple of tanka, did some Japanese clothing research.

Day 6 of 100 Days of Arts and Sciences. Practiced soprano recorder, went to Shodo lesson, made progress on Class prep for RUSH, fell down research hole about how lower-class Japanese patched/repaired clothing. Mostly 19th and early 20th century information, but can certainly tie literary references to the practice (regrettably vague), but some Shōsō-in garments show this kind of patching or similar. Worth digging more into. Next few days will be slow, have some Real Life constraints on my time, but should be able to do something, even small!

Day 7 of 100 Days of Arts and Sciences. Nursing a migraine today, so just did some hand-sewing repair on a cloak and some zukin where threads had come loose. Took apart a trial kosode I made from some shibori-designed fabric I picked up on clearance when Hancock’s closed. Thought it might work for garb. It looks right but it is almost canvas weight and would be too hot and scratchy. Will probably repurpose the material to make bags or something like that instead. Waste not, want not.

100_days_as_7_boro_stitching_attempt

First attempt at using Japanese boro stitching technique to fix a frayed area on a quilt. Simple running stitch used in period. Not complete success. Need more even stitches, probably slap a patch over the area and then try running stitch and see how that goes. Just experimenting on an idea.

Day 8 of 100 Days of Arts and Sciences. Wrote two tanka and a haiku, more reading on Japanese work clothes, soprano recorder practice, sourcing materials for my RUSH classes (and trying to remember where I stashed those student brushes–I’ve given some away but I know I have more.) I need to fit in some time tomorrow to get that kosode sloper put together so I can see if my updated pattern works. #somedayiwillbeorganized #todayisnotthatday

Day 9 of 100 Days of Arts and Sciences. Still gathering materials for RUSH classes, continued reading book on Japanese work clothes, and taking apart failed canvas shibori kosode to reuse material.

Day 10 of 100 Days of Arts and Sciences. Updated SCA blog, finished reading book on Japanese work clothes, finished taking apart shibori kosode (fabric will be stored an be reworked into carrying bags later, after I get more clothing sewn!).

The book I’ve been reading about Japanese work clothes is Stories Clothes Tell: Voices of Working Class Japan by Horikiri Tatsuichi, translated by Reiko Wagoner. ISBN 1442265108 (ISBN13: 9781442265103). The author spent decades traveling around Japan and collecting examples of working-class clothing, mostly from the Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa era. (So he focused roughly 1868 to the early 1960’s in time period.) This book is a translation of several essays that Horikiri wrote concerning items from this collection. While he tends to go a little far in conjecture about items, the small details about these work clothes and how they were used is a fascinating read, if a bit melancholy since some of these stories really bring into focus how desperately poor these people were.

There are more “social histories” now than there used to be, that focus on the lives of the common people. Since the time period this book focused on was post-1600, many items he discussed were not exactly applicable to SCA, but his approach is certainly one we can apply. It was remarkable to see how slowly the clothing evolved in usage–Horikiri discusses the evolution of some of the items from Edo-period clothing. With a little work, some items might be placed before that. It would take looking at visual sources and perhaps literature, since no extant pieces would exist.

The book was also useful in isolating some Japanese terms regarding fabric and clothing and includes a glossary, although most of the items mentioned are Edo-period or later. Still, there is some hidden treasure here. In one essay, he speaks of the difference between the rough-woven asa 大麻(hemp) cloth used by the lower classes, and the finer-woven joufu 上布, which seemed to be linen or perhaps a mix of hemp and linen? Definitely of a much tighter weave, and according to this Japanese wikipedia article on 上布, there are some extant pre-1600 examples of joufu?

Anyway, it looks like it would be worthwhile to track down more of these specific terms, not often referenced in English language sources!

飾り結び Ornamental Knots

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Examples of kazari musubi (ornamental knots) from the cover of the book 暮らしを彩る飾り結び.

A question came up on the SCA Japanese Facebook page regarding kazari musubi 飾り結び (ornamental knots). These were widely used in Japanese clothing and also for decorating and fastening scrolls. The knots were often made of kumihimo cords, so it ends up being a multi-phase process.

While I haven’t found much in English about kazari musubi, there are two excellent books in print available in Japanese:

やさしい飾り結び (Yasashii kazari musubi) “Simple Ornamental Knots” by Hashida Shoen (1983) ISBN 978-4-14-031025-0 .

暮らしを彩る飾り結び (Kurashi o irodoru kazarimusubi) “Decorating with Ornamental Knots” by Tanaka Toshiko (2012) ISBN # 978-4-14-031187-5.

Another way to approach the subject is by looking at Chinese ornamental knots. They are similar but not exactly alike, as they tend to be more complex than the common Japanese designs. Still, the techniques used are the same, and because macrame was such a popular pasttime here in America during the 1970’s, there was a market for books on this subject and so there are several books available in English.

I have found Lydia Chen’s work to be very accessible. She explains the process thoroughly, with a lot of pictures, and has several books out on the subject. Here is a list of her books on Goodreads. I would recommend starting with Chinese Knotting: Creative Designs that are Easy and Fun! and her The Complete Book of Chinese Knotting: A Compendium of Techniques and Variations . The Fashion accessory book is fun but not practical for what we do in the SCA.

There’s a wonderful site called Knotty Notions by Carol Leon-Yun Wang which has some very useful links. Her webpage on Chinese knotting has some instructions for basic knots, too, as well as an excellent bibliography, although maybe not completely up to date at this point.

Of course, this subject ties into kumihimo/kate-uchi, that creates the cords from which these knots are made. I’m just getting my toes wet on this subject, so will report back more as I dig deeper. Still, this is plenty to get a person started and keep them busy for a long time!

Some Useful Links to Get Started with Medieval Japanese Women’s Clothing

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Sewing a Kosode in the car, photo credit Maria Szabo Gilson.

Someone contacted me on Facebook with a question about getting started with Medieval Japanese Women’s Clothing, as he has only researched men’s clothing. Fortunately, women’s clothing was actually simpler than men’s, and there are some excellent websites that can get a person started on the process.

First, I tend to send folks to Saionji no Hana (Lisa Joseph)’s page: The Kosode: a Japanese Garment for SCA Period. I was around when she was first building this page and it was her instructions I used for my first attempts at Japanese garb. She does keep the page updated as she finds more information and is usually happy to answer questions. Note: there are some adjustments that people of size (like myself) have to make with Japanese garb, as the standard ratios do not apply, and she does try to address the issue.

Oribe Tsukime’s Education Page has a lot of well-researched information and copies of her class handouts. She especially enjoys working with dyes. She’s managed to make some amazing garments with some workarounds for those of us who can’t afford real brocade (that would probably be most of us, right?) She’s also very responsive to questions if she run into a problem.

Here is also my humble handout which focuses on the kind of stitches one uses in kosode construction, and links to helpful pages and videos on tricky things like attaching the collar or getting the lining worked out if you chose to line your garment. Kosode Construction: Stitches, Tips, and Tricks.

There are more tutorials to be found on the web, and I encourage people to seek them out. Sometimes the way one person explains things will not work for someone else, so looking through a variety of approaches might be helpful.

On Karuta

uta-karuta-example_from_ebay_listing

There was a question on the SCA FB page regarding kyoji karuta (competitive matching-type card play). Since this was an area that I’d looked into a while back, here was my answer. Short form: karuta as an item appeared in Japan in the 16th century, but matching-type karuta games are an Edo-period development and do not fall within the pre-1600 guidelines set by the SCA

I did some research into this area a while back. The kai-awase (matching shells) is very much within the timeframe that the SCA covers. While karuta (which is a word based upon Portuguese for carta “card”) definitely came in during the 16th century, they were mostly used for European-style card playing and gambling–in fact, there seems to have been a book published in 1597 with rules for various gambling-type games. Karuta did start to be domestically made by the end of the 16th century but followed the design of European decks. The various matching games and uta-karuta developed in the Edo period, while kyogi karuta came about in the 19th century. So please keep in mind that, while amusing, kyoji karuta is not period. Here’s a good page (in Japanese) that explains the history of karuta very well.

Edo Karuta page: very good outline of the history of karuta. This is where I found the reference to the book written in 1597 called 博奕かるた諸勝負令停止, which from the kanji seems to be rules about gambling with karuta. Page is in Japanese.

Miike Karuta Museum’s page about karuta history. The museum is in Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture, an area where a lot of the domestic Japanese karuta cards were made. It houses the most complete historical collection of Japanese karuta.

Wikipedia can be an iffy source, but in this case, the entry about karuta is thorough and has a lot of cites to follow.

(Image saved from an Ebay listing of uta-karuta cards. Yes, I have a set.)

A link about Kuzushiji

Just putting this link here until I have more time to check into the subject. An Introduction to Kuzushiji.

Kuzushiji 崩し字 is that sosho-looking print script that was very popular in Edo-period texts. Very similar to sosho in several aspects, but lacks sosho’s elegance. Somewhere around here I have a book about the history of Japanese printing, and will look in that to see more.

I can make out some characters, due to my shodo studies, but can’t really say that I can “read” it.

Pre-Modern Japanese Text Bibliography

Stumbled on an awesome find today. It’s a list of Pre-modern Japanese texts and what translations (if any) have been done. Dated 2013, but it looks like they are trying to keep it updated. So if you are trying to track down a particular early Japanese primary source, this can tell you if it has been translated and where you can find said translation.

You can find it here: Pre-modern Japanese Texts and Translations.

Note: It is a bibliography, so the translations are not hosted. They try to link to articles and such, but how this helps is finding out if some of these primary sources have been translated into English (or other western languages) and finding out where those translations can be found.

小鳥の歌 54

spring_apple_blossoms_john_everett_millais_1859

Blossoming orchard
Humble apple trees preening
For once in beauty
Welcoming soft spring rain like
An innocent girl in love

Link: orchard in blossom to blossoming orchard

I chose apple trees because they are commonly seen in the Midwest and when we lived in Iowa, we lived near an orchard. Kigo 季語 in Japanese poetry are words and phrases associated with seasons. They are often gathered in collections called saijiki 歳時記. However, because the climate where I live in Kansas is far different from that of Japan, I sometimes choose kigo that apply to what I see in my everyday life. The most common flowering trees that were used in medieval tanka were the plum (early spring) and the sakura (middle spring).

Apples actually were not widely cultivated in Japan until the Meiji period (1868-1912), although they are quite popular there now. Here is an interesting list about some Japanese fruits and when they were first cultivated there.

Due to the popularity of the haiku form of poetry, there are some saijiki lists online for English speakers. There is a good one heretranslated by William J. Higginson that focuses on Japanese kigo. There is also an interesting one here called the World Kigo Dictionary that has links to lists for kigo in other parts of the world. However, while they have some for North America, there doesn’t seem to be one specifically for the Midwest. (One for Oklahoma, though, and one for the Northern prairie–but from the descriptions I was reading, that sounds like Minnesota or the Dakotas? Not quite the same thing as here.) There are a number of other lists online as well.

However, while kigo developed out of tanka poetry, some of the traditions were established in the Edo period and are particular to haiku, so if you are writing tanka for SCA (medieval reenactment) purposes, double-check.

Painting by John Everett Millais 1859. (c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation