Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Sisterhood of Guangdong


I bought this jacket in a thrift store a few years back and was doing a little research prior to putting it on etsy. Checking the label, I couldn't find anything under "Plum Blossom", so I checked the place name, Guangdong, which opened up a whole new perspective. The cheerful birds on this jacket were not hatched in a sweatshop.

Guangdong province was famous for its handspun silk thread and its embroidery style (Yue). The silk trade gave independence to female domestic laborers, who took an oath to remain single. When the Communists took over in 1949, they cut off trade to the West from this area, and many of the women returned to domestic service as nursemaids (amahs). I don't know, but would like to think, that the embroidery tradition was kept up in private.

The style of script on the label leads me to believe that this jacket was made in the late 40s and that these embroidered birds were among the last to cross the sea.

9 comments:

jude said...

i have actually been there, do you believe that?

ArtSparker said...

Okay, Jude, now I am getting MORE chills (I have been getting them on and off since I made this discovery).

Celeste Bergin said...

I love your keyword "sisterhood" ....! it is like a woman reached across time to squeeze your hand. I am somewhat awestruck. So many people have overlooked that beautiful treasure until it found you. Thanks for sharing the discovery!

ArtSparker said...

Celeste, I had something of the same feeling in the Cluny museum in Paris. It is the fact that these artists are unknown that makes their work somehow more immediate than that of the familiar names in art history books. Well, okay, maybe I'll give Rembrandt a pass on the immediacy thing.

Els said...

(When I saw the little photo on my blogroll I thought you were at the zoo or something ....)
Wonderful work of some unknown artist, you found something special!!

California Girl said...

exquisite workmanship. your story reminds me somewhat of "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan", a wonderful book about a secret language embroidered and written by Chinese women to express their feelings.

The Crow said...

Such beautiful workmanship and design.

One of my favorite teas, scented with osmanthus (tea olive) flowers, comes from this district in China.

Eva said...

I do hope that Jude will inform us whether the tradition lives on...
This piece looks so young and fresh.

Charles Gramlich said...

Very lovely work. I'd keep that one.