Sorry....no picture of a dead kimono on a table.
There was an elegant group of Swedish women at the house for the past four days. We were up in sub-zero weather at the indigo vats before they left on the 10:30 train.
Yesterday, I put several kimono and Japanese jackets on the table and we stood around and discussed them.
The genius of simple design over a thousand years.
The sublime choice of natural dyes used.
The ingenious way of recycling thread and cloth.
The degree of standardization over the centuries but the freedom of expression in the garments.
How silk threads vary endlessly.
Who would have worn them?
How can I present some images to the students besides photographs and film clips....... The workshops are already just bursting with time consuming activities...
We shook our head in disbelief of the amount of cultural information in an artifact of clothing lying on the table we surrounded. Later in the evening after a few cups of sake I pictured the table as a gurney...
There had been no warm body in the clothing. The maker/creator was more with us than the wearer. (Which is not bad thing in itself since we are all textile makers.)
It was my last working night of 2017.
Something special to mark the occasion was appropriate. In the evening two local bamboo flute players to come to the house and give a performance to the Swedes.
They have been playing the instrument for 45 years each.
Last night was the first heavy frost of the autumn.
The well-prepared area around the roaring campfire in the yard wasn't going to work so we quickly made space in the living room for the show.
The shakuhachi is an end-blown flute tuned to a pentatonic (5-note) scale. By various fingerings -- half- and quarter-holings -- and by controlling the angle of mouthpiece against the lip, all twelve tones of the western chromatic scale can be produced. The mouthpiece consists of an oblique blowing edge whose design is unique in that it enables the player to control the pitch produced by changing the angle at which the flute is being blown. This, in turn, produces a delicate change of intonation -- a swelling or bending of notes characteristic of the traditional music. Alterations in embouchure, intensity of blowing and cross fingerings allow the player to create a wide variety of subtle and incredible sounds. The timbre of the instrument is mellow in its low tones, although it is equally capable of producing loud, penetrating and breathy tones in its middle and upper registers. Little can be said of the sound of the shakuhachi without first hearing its hauntingly beautiful ring. With this in mind, noted ethnomusicologist Fumio Koizumi concluded: "Because of the religious origin of its music, the sound of the bamboo flute leads the mind directly into spiritual thought. Thus a single tone of the shakuhachi can sometimes bring one to the world of Nirvana."
Traditional Japanese music played on this instrument reflects the many voices of nature. Gentle and warm, the summer rain. Frayed and gusty, the autumn breeze through the bamboos. Shrill and honking, the cry of a wild duck, winter on its tail. Quiet and sweet, a mountain lake fed by early spring runoff.
Thank you to the indigo vats as well. Another year past. I am away to Scotland in a few days for a month. The last dyeing of the year. Kibiso silk for Diana in Vancouver.