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Re: Bibliography, clothing, and persona

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  • Kass McGann
    Dear Kou-dono, I will endevour to answer the part of your enquiry that falls within my area of knowledge. ... sewn ... nicer ... was a ... white, ... get
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 7, 2000
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      Dear Kou-dono,

      I will endevour to answer the part of your enquiry that falls within
      my area of knowledge.

      > Brocades? Oh yes, I've been bitten by that bug already. I've not
      sewn
      > anything yet, but I've purchased a couple of partial bolts of the
      nicer
      > ones I can occasionally find at JoAnn's or Hancock Fabrics. There
      was a
      > wonderful dragon brocade that I wanted - it was available in red or
      white,
      > but I didn't have the money for it at the time. I was hoping to
      get enough
      > to make a squire's obi and Master's sash or knight's obi, should my
      efforts
      > in those directions ever become fruitful.

      If you are thinking of making modern style brocade obi to signify
      your Master or Knight by colour or your squirehood by the same, I
      would discourage you from doing so. The Japanese system of ranks as
      signified by belt colour is a modern thing and I would not like to
      see it encouraged among Japanese personae in our Society. Matter of
      fact, recently someone asked Hiraizumi-dono to justify the wearing of
      white brocade sashes a la Shogun and he said that he could not.
      There are better alternatives...

      I am apprenticed and proteged to my Master and I wear a kumihimo
      braid of yellow, green, blue and white. Yellow for my protegehood,
      green for my apprenticeship, and blue and white for my Master's
      colours. This would be a much better decision than a brocade obi.

      Another idea is to wear a western belt like other squires. After
      all, Corporate does insist that we are in a Western European land...
      Of course, you wouldn't catch *me* wearing leather... ;)

      > What are nishiki brocades and aya
      > gauze?

      Okay, I may get a little technical on you. If I go too far, just
      ignore me. Aya is a warp-patterned silk gauze (that refers to the
      technique by which it's woven) that has been popular in court garb
      since at least the Nara period. Many of the textiles in the 7th and
      8th century depositories of Shoso-in and Horuji are made from aya.
      Somtimes the aya is plain and sometimes it has little designs woven
      in.

      Nishiki brocade is a type of brocade woven in the nishiki district of
      Heian-kyo (modern-day Kyoto). While aya tends to be monchromatic,
      the threads of nishiki can be mutlicoloured. You can see some
      examples of nishiki brocade here: http://www.yusoku.com/koaoi.html

      The quick and dirty is that in the Japanese world of heirarchy,
      everything was regulated. Aya and kara aya ("Chinese aya") were
      weaves allowed to nobles of certain rank on certain ocassions.
      Lesser nobles would have to wear plain silk. Nishiki brocade is even
      more difficult to make, so therefore, only higher ranking nobles were
      allowed to wear it. Generally, if you were allowed to wear nishiki
      at all, the colour would still be restricted by your rank, and you
      would probably only wear it as your outer layer (so all the world
      would see!).

      Personally, I wear either plain silk or an approximation of aya for
      my underdresses and a brocade over robe. Recently, I was given
      permission by the Crown to wear the forbidden colour, kurenai (red)
      so I am having a red nishiki overrobe made. My old overrobe may have
      been of the same dragon brocade of which you speak. Mine was green.

      > What are styles to look for or avoid in brocades? How can the
      unscholarly
      > decide if the brocade is close enough to period?

      Look at period illustrations (NOT Shogun and not 19th century works)
      and see if the brocade looks like the pictures...

      > Avoiding metallic threads
      > would be a start, I assume.

      Not so. Many period outerrobes had gold thread woven into them. But
      use your own judgement. If it looks cheesey, avoid it.

      > I have some idea of designs from books on mon
      > and Japanese or Chinese design motifs.

      Remember that the five-crest or three-crest mon design on kimono is
      relatively recent. But wearing fabric with a mon printed all over it
      dates to the Kamakura period (12th century).

      I try to avoid Chinese designs because they are so different from
      Japanese ones. But sometimes we have no choice. Recently, I found
      beautiful silk brocade with gold Chinese luck roundels all over it.
      It is not a Japanese design, but the Japanese used a similar design
      with gold mon. Unfortunately, they didn't have enough yardage for my
      needs...

      > I assume that avoiding
      > modern-looking patterns is a good idea, but that seems to be an
      issue with
      > the printed cotton fabrics more than with the brocades.

      Well, a good rule is to check period illustrations first and see if
      anything similar was worn by someone of your time period, class, and
      station.

      > Are there
      > particular designs that would be avoided by a male?

      Well, I can't think of anything off the top of my head. Again, look
      in books of period scrolls and portraits and see what they are
      wearing. And avoid red hakama. They're "girly pants"! ;)

      > I would like to do monastic garb, but have not found much
      information on
      > that, particularly on garb appropriate for sohei. The
      illustrations in
      > Turnbull's books seem to be at odds with other descriptions - the
      density
      > of weave, weight of fabric, and whether or not there should be this
      strange
      > ruffle on the bottom of the outer garment. There was some
      discussion of
      > monastic garb on the other list, but no sources cited for me to
      take a look
      > at the material for myself.

      I would suggest that you email the other list and address Matsuyamagi
      no Mokurai-dono. He is also a sohei persona and he has lovely garb.
      His Lady makes most of it for him by copying period illustrations I
      believe. I will also make sure to suggest to Hiraizumi-dono that he
      include monastic garb in the upcoming CA...

      > Unfortunately, I will not be attending Pennsic this year after all
      due to
      > mundane concerns. *sigh* Perhaps next year.

      That is unfortunate, but we look forward to meeting you next year
      then.

      Your servant,
      Aoi
    • Barbara Nostrand
      Noble Cousins! ... Ultimately, the only way to have a decent chance for success is to find a reliable reference that has dated pictures. If you have looked at
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 7, 2000
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        Noble Cousins!

        > What are styles to look for or avoid in brocades? How can the unscholarly
        >decide if the brocade is close enough to period? Avoiding metallic threads
        >would be a start, I assume. I have some idea of designs from books on mon
        >and Japanese or Chinese design motifs. I assume that avoiding
        >modern-looking patterns is a good idea, but that seems to be an issue with
        >the printed cotton fabrics more than with the brocades. Are there
        >particular designs that would be avoided by a male?

        Ultimately, the only way to have a decent chance for success is to find
        a reliable reference that has dated pictures. If you have looked at this
        stuff enough, you have a decent chance of spotting it at fabric stores.
        I once bought some upholstry fabric at a Boston fabric store with the
        belief that the pattern looked familiar. I took it home with me and
        thumbed through my massive tea dictionary and found the pattern. It
        was there, and was pre 1600. Some of these patterns MAY look fairly
        modern to Americans.

        >I have yet to make the trip to Nordskogen (Minneapolis) to the warehouse
        >store where Felix Needleworthy and other professionals pruchase their
        >material. I also have yet to do the research to find where good stores are
        >in Chicago, which is just a few hours away. I have had it suggested to me
        >to visit the fabric stores in the theatre district. I also remember some
        >stores in Chicago being mentioned in the few books on Japanese calligraphy
        >and interior decorating that I have. Any suggestions?

        Incidentally, how is Nordskogen? St. Paul is one of the cities where I
        currently have a job offer.

        >I find myself in another quandry regarding garb and persona. My original
        >idea was to take a sohei persona, but I could not find enough material for
        >me to be comfortable in selecting a monastic name, so I selected a
        >bushi-style name instead with the idea of being a younger son who is
        >attracted to monastic life, but who has too much interest in things martial
        >and too much of an unsettled spirit to become a monk, but who found kindred
        >spirits among the sohei, even if they were a rough-and-tumble lot. My
        >difficulty is in the limited availability of information on militant
        >monastics, so I seem to keep getting called by my family to take care of
        >responsibilities away from the temples.

        Err. As I recall, the militant monastics generally dressed as monastics
        and descended on Heiankyou on a regular basis waving their naginata unto
        Nobonaga or some such burned their mountain and basically slaughtered
        them. You are probably much better off being a young bushi who is interested
        in studying zen and other subjects found without actually entering orders.
        Baron Edward probably has a lot to say about these subjects.

        >I would like to do monastic garb, but have not found much information on
        >that, particularly on garb appropriate for sohei. The illustrations in
        >Turnbull's books seem to be at odds with other descriptions - the density
        >of weave, weight of fabric, and whether or not there should be this strange
        >ruffle on the bottom of the outer garment. There was some discussion of
        >monastic garb on the other list, but no sources cited for me to take a look
        >at the material for myself.

        Actually, there are quite a few period illustrations of these costumes.
        Also, I would guess that their construction is covered in the great
        Japanese book of patterns of which Baron Edward has a copy.

        Your Humble Servant
        Solveig Throndardottir
        Amateur Scholar

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      • Barbara Nostrand
        Noble Cousins! I m afraid that I can not resist as this discussion appears to be just too much fun. ... I agree. There does not appear to be any period
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 7, 2000
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          Noble Cousins!

          I'm afraid that I can not resist as this discussion appears to be just
          too much fun.

          >If you are thinking of making modern style brocade obi to signify
          >your Master or Knight by colour or your squirehood by the same, I
          >would discourage you from doing so. The Japanese system of ranks as
          >signified by belt colour is a modern thing and I would not like to
          >see it encouraged among Japanese personae in our Society.

          I agree. There does not appear to be any period precident for belt
          ranks. There is lots of period precident for rank specific colour
          usage especially in the imperial court and in various Buddhist
          monasteries. For example, high ranking buddhist monks wear very
          large kessa in colours such as purple and green which indicate
          their lofty rank.

          The ancient imperial court established a system of coloured robes
          and distinctive caps. If you look in a variety of references, you
          will discover that a particular shade of brown might be the province
          of the kampaku and another colour might be the province of the
          prime minister. These colours might be best displayed as over robes.
          Low ranking ministers would generally wear black over robes.

          >Matter of
          >fact, recently someone asked Hiraizumi-dono to justify the wearing of
          >white brocade sashes a la Shogun and he said that he could not.
          >There are better alternatives...

          White sashes?? I have mercifully forgotten much of Clavel's stuff.

          >I am apprenticed and proteged to my Master and I wear a kumihimo
          >braid of yellow, green, blue and white. Yellow for my protegehood,
          >green for my apprenticeship, and blue and white for my Master's
          >colours. This would be a much better decision than a brocade obi.

          Properly used kumihimo are a great idea especially when applied
          as ties to formal robes or hats. Remember though that hats themselves
          have specific import. Now for some real (at least late period) Japanese
          feudal clothing use. The master should present at the time of vassalage
          and annually at new year clothing or at least the cloth for that clothing.
          This cloth should ideally express both the rank of the vassal and the
          identity of the lord. A great honour would be to allow your vassal to
          wear cloth with a brocade pattern of the master's kamon. In fact, one
          of the final certificates granted by Sen Hounsai to Urasenke students
          is permission to bear the family kamon. (Granted that Urasenke is
          post period, but it does express the idea and this business about
          clothing vassals does go back.)

          >Remember that the five-crest or three-crest mon design on kimono is
          >relatively recent. But wearing fabric with a mon printed all over it
          >dates to the Kamakura period (12th century).

          Older patterns tended to quite large and covered the entire expanse
          of cloth. Modern kamon are actually applied after the cloth is woven
          and has been delivered to the kimono maker.

          >I try to avoid Chinese designs because they are so different from
          >Japanese ones. But sometimes we have no choice. Recently, I found
          >beautiful silk brocade with gold Chinese luck roundels all over it.
          >It is not a Japanese design, but the Japanese used a similar design
          >with gold mon. Unfortunately, they didn't have enough yardage for my
          >needs...

          Japanese were not necessarily adverse to wearing Chinese cloth.
          you might easily wear Chinese cloth for under garments of various
          sort or use them for linings or as the base for some overgarment.
          The problem with the Chinese luck roundels is that they simply
          do not express corporate identity the way that a proper Japanese
          kamon does. Further, there were various anti-Chinese periods
          during Japanese history when Chinese panterns would simply not
          be very popular.

          Your Humble Servant
          Solveig Throndardottir
          Amateur Scholar

          +---------------------------------------------------------------------+
          | Barbara Nostrand, Ph.D. | Solveig Throndardottir, CoM |
          | de Moivre Institute | Carolingia Statis Mentis Est |
          | mailto:nostrand@... | mailto:bnostran@... |
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        • markejag@aol.com
          In a message dated 6/7/00 3:22:07 PM Eastern Daylight Time, nostrand@bradley.edu writes: Short
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 8, 2000
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            In a message dated 6/7/00 3:22:07 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
            nostrand@... writes:

            << Avoiding metallic threads would be a start, I assume. >>
            Short interjection and additions to previous conversation.....

            Look carefully at the illuminations, some of them are plain silk, of various
            thickness and weaves and have the gold couched on the fabric with the
            'brocade' patterns embroidered all over.
            I am sure Aoi and Hiraizumi have reliable sources of pictures to look at. I
            have noticed that the brocade patterns Aoi spoke of (
            www.yusoku.com/koaoi.html - the kikko or tortoise shell pattern) can also be
            traced to the Heian period as an example of complete covering, overall
            embroidered.

            Fumio
          • Kass McGann
            ... of various ... the ... look at. I ... can also be ... overall ... Well, it s not embroidered but rather the metalic threads were brocaded into the
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 8, 2000
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              > Look carefully at the illuminations, some of them are plain silk,
              of various
              > thickness and weaves and have the gold couched on the fabric with
              the
              > 'brocade' patterns embroidered all over.
              > I am sure Aoi and Hiraizumi have reliable sources of pictures to
              look at. I
              > have noticed that the brocade patterns Aoi spoke of (
              > www.yusoku.com/koaoi.html - the kikko or tortoise shell pattern)
              can also be
              > traced to the Heian period as an example of complete covering,
              overall
              > embroidered.
              >
              > Fumio

              Well, it's not "embroidered" but rather the metalic threads were
              brocaded into the fabric when it was woven, but you have the right
              idea. Metallic threads ARE NOT taboo...
              Aoi
            • Marc Choronzey
              Konichiwa All, I Agree, my persona comes and goes between late Heian and Muromachi periods... Is there a concensus on what period is the easier to respect or
              Message 6 of 7 , Jun 10, 2000
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                Konichiwa All,

                I Agree, my persona comes and goes between late Heian and Muromachi
                periods...

                Is there a concensus on what period is the easier to respect or is the most
                popular?

                Domo,

                Sayonara.
                ---------------------------------------------------------
                "A man who judges others but not himself judges badly..."

                Hebikage Shimaha
                (Marc Choronzey)
                514-388-1790


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