Material Choices: Refashioning Bast and Leaf Fibers in Asia and the Pacific
by Hamilton, Roy W. and B. Lynne Milgram (Editors)
Los Angeles: Fowler Museum at UCLA, 2007. Softcover. Good+ (clean, bright, tight but for a very few check marks next to names in the index; bump to lower right corner). Color-illus. card wraps with deep French flaps. 187 pp. with color images and bw maps throughout, numbered by chapter. Asia is renowned for the production of fine handwoven cottons and luxurious silks -important items of trade for centuries. In addition to these celebrated fabrics, however, weavers throughout the region produced cloth from ramie, hemp, pina, and banana fibers (including Philippine abaca and Okinawan ito basho), as well as a number of lesser-known plant fibers. Over the course of the twentieth century, many of these Asian plant fiber weaving traditions became marginalized or hovered on the brink of extinction, given the advent of synthetic fabrics, growing industrialization, and increased international textile trade. As the essays in this book testify, however, they have not vanished altogether. Rather, in recent times weavers have purposefully chosen to pursue various efforts directed at their preservation, revival, or reinvention. In many cases, the production of bast and leaf fiber textiles is now thriving in newly globalized situations. This volume presents eight essays documenting the current state of bast and leaf fiber weaving traditions in Vietnam, Borneo, Korea, Burma, Okinawa, the Philippines, Japan, and Micronesia. The processes that have nurtured or buffeted attempts to preserve or revive the production of these textiles are examined and abundantly illustrated with color photographs.
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