Tribal Trappings – Asian Ethnic Art, Artifacts, Textiles and Folk Art Tribal Trappings – Thoughts about Thailand, Chiang Mai, things tribal including textiles, ethnographica and folk art <data:blog.pageTitle/>

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tis the Season

It's beginning to sound a lot like . . . World War III! Everyone has been trying out their new cache of fireworks for the last couple of weeks, with the crescendo being Sunday night when the moon reached its fullest in this, the twelfth lunar month, and the peak of 'Loy Krathong'. Also known as 'Yi Peng', it is a celebration of the end of the rainy season, and a time to honor the goddess of water sources. We missed the festivities that night, but I was able to make it on Monday for the parade of large floats and the last night of merriment and mayhem. Ah, I love the smell of kordite in the evening! And there was plenty, along with a sky full of 'khom loy', or hot air lanterns that were being set aloft in any space large enough to accommodate them. Here a 'clutch' of schoolgirls ready theirs for liftoff--

The river was alight with the twinkle of candles on 'krathongs' (the little flower festooned floating offerings to the goddess of the waterways), as well as the reflections of lights and lanterns along its banks. (Here a veteran 'krathong'-maker is at work pinning folded leaves onto a base formed by the cross-section of a banana tree trunk.)

Families were out en masse and I noticed several new carnival-like venues- including one at a temple. As always, it's a magical time of year and for all ages. The parade did not disappoint either. We got to Tha Pae Road a little late, so missed some of it, but were still able to see over an hour's worth of dancing girls, magnificently glittering floats, occasional sword dancers with rolling gongs, contingents of traditionally-dressed ladies,

(Thanks to Deb Swingholm for the photo above and below)

and assorted beautifully decorated umbrellas, canopies, banners and vertical 'flags' called 'tung'.

The end was signalled by the 'Last Redshirt', an elderly fellow on his decorated, red bicycle/cart who was following a small army of red-shirted, flag-bearing followers of the former, now exiled, Prime Minister.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I just read a sad statistic: The National Museum of African Art, a part of the Smithsonian in Washington DC, has the second least number of visitors of all the museums on the Mall. I was able to visit it in 2008 and was most impressed with the quality and variety of exhibitions. There was a fabulous collection of ritual costumes in one room, and I was ecstatic to find another gallery with a show of the work of El Anatsui, one of my favorite contemporary artists. Most galleries also included free printed documentation both for adults and for children.

Their website is also very good and currently features an interesting virtual exhibition of baskets called 'Grass Roots'. From the eastern US, these baskets were made for rice cultivation and harvesting, and have designs originating in western Africa. The cross-continental links are fascinating and also make me consider all the great baskets used in Asia for this same purpose. What an interesting exhibition that would make - a comparison of baskets used by rice-growers around the world! Also on the website is the ability to explore their collections- both artifacts and photographs.

If you are in Washington DC, do put this museum on your list and give it some time. For any art lover it will be time well spent. This is a fabulous resource and deserves more attention and attendance.

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

In Situ - Private Collections Made Public

At long last we have added a page for the voyeur in all of us! Called 'In Situ', it will be an evolving showcase of the collections of friends, clients, as well as our own, and show how others live with their tribal treasures. We will include creative displays and novel uses of ethnic art, artifacts and textiles. Please feel free to share photos of your collection(s) with us - email us for image parameters and we'll do the rest. Below is from the apartment of a collecting couple in Chicago (item details on our site).

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