Monday, 23 September 2013

Choli tops in Medieval Indian art

Some reference images I'm gathering for my class on choli tops for Rowany Festival.

Detail from a folio from a Kalpasutra Manuscript. Gujarat, 1350. Ink and opaque watercolor on palm leaf. Page 86 in Indian Painting, 1000-1700, by Pratapaditya Pal. ISBN: 0810834655
The image above shows two nuns separated from two ladies. The lady in the front is identified as Hiradevi, the chief hearer. Both ladies wear mid length choli tops over which they wear arm bangles.

One of a Pair of Jain Manuscripts (Patli), early 12th century India (Gujarat) Opaque watercolor on wood  Central figure wears a mid length choli top in contrasting colours.

Detail from a folio, Manjusri and Scenes from the Buddha's life. Bihar, Nalanda, 1075. Image of the goddess Prajnaparamita. Page 57 in Indian Painting, 1000-1700, by Pratapaditya Pal. ISBN: 0810834655  The goddess either wears a short choli top and arm jewellery, or a mid length choli top which has been embroidered or had jewels sewn on. The goddesses feet and hands seem to be coloured red, suggesting the use of henna perhaps. (not the delicate and intricate patterns we see at ren faires today though).

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Ceramic experiment 15 - Tile 3

Star and cross tiles in a manuscript. From Bābur Seeks His Grandmother's Advice Leaf from the Read Mughal Album, but formerly fol. 86 in the British Library's Bāburnāma. Mughal, ca. 1590–92, probably by Sānvalah, with early-nineteenth-century borders. 440 x 294 mm  MS M.458.18. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Star tile, Iran, Kashan, 1260-1270. The Met Museum. Accession Number: 41.165.22

I have completed my third islamic tile. It has also been designed to link to tiles 1 and 2. I'm rather happy with how it came out. While I can't claim this is an experiment, this is part of my ongoing A&S 50 challenge. Given that I'm now at number 15, and I have another 35 to complete in a little over a year and a half, I need to get cracking.

Tile from Iran, Kashan, 1000-1250. LACMA Kashan tile, 13th Century. Met Museum of Art.

Tiles 2, 1, and 3 in order.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Blue persian fabrics and ideas for block printing

Due to my, mostly, successful block printing experiment I've started looking into different patterns and styles of drape on Persian garb. Mostly in the Safavid period. I currently have a roll of light yellow linen and bright blue cotton / linen blend sitting around my house. I've never thought the bright blue would be suitable for more western European SCA garb, it's just too bright. However, the blues I've been finding in Persian manuscripts are beautifully bright. Before you comment to point it out, colour pallet available to painters is entirely different from that available to the dyers (and ceramic painters too). From this small collection of images, it appears that blue garb was usually accompanied by orange, red or other 'warm tones'.
I am going to have to think carefully about this garb choice. Artistically, the preferred depiction of women seems to be more willowy than modern paintings of this culture. I suspect I'm a little too buxom to wear under-dresses that gape between the breasts unless they're uncomfortably tight.

Detail from Wine drinking in a Spring Garden. Iran, 1430. Met Museum.

Detail from an illustrated and illuminated leaf from a manuscript of Firdausi’s Shahnameh: Bahram at the court of the Indian king Shangol, Persia, Safavid, Shiraz, 16th Century. From Sotheby's.

Woman with a spray of flowers ca. 1575, Safavid period, Iran
I got the idea for my first printing stamp from this image.

Mohammadi, Herat, circa 1565, Seated Princess. I don't know where it's located, but the link for the full images is here. I love the blue coat (entari?), the yellow dress, and the black under dress. And the image below is from the same site.

Detail of - Seated Princess has a cloud collar, an orange coat, a light blue dress and a dark blue underdress. Plate 57. Persia, Circa 1500, Collection of L. Cartier, Paris, France La Miniature En Orient by Ernst Kuhnel 1925  Attributed to Miraz Ali, 1540.

Lot 297 Sotheby's London UK. 04/30/1992
Detail of - Fariburz comes before Kay Khusrau enthroned within a draped chamber, three chained prisoners in foreground, hilly landscape under gold sky, an illustrated leaf from a manuscript of Firdausi's Shahnama copied by Salik ibn Sa'id for Sultan Ali Mirza of Gazan (reigned 1478 - 1504) Turkmen Court Style, dated 1494

See also:
  • Persian embroidery a study in miniatures (some great images here)
  • this guy has some great images and translations, even though the layout is jumbled and confusing at times, also, his main page clumsily sells carpets (he appears to be an expert) and has no link to the Persian miniatures. (he also has a bunch of Mumluk items)
  • My growing Pinterest Persian board.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Block printing experiments

I made my first attempt at block printing today. I spent a bit of time over the last week browsing online how-to's and gathering images of period paintings and extant fabric samples. Here is a great video of block printing in Jaipur. The video starts with a multi-colour print using four speerate blocks and then demonstrates a great method for turning corners - using newspaper to make angles. It's also comforting to see that professions (who do this every day) sometimes misalign the blocks. This morning, I felt confident enough to make my own attempt on a scrap of pale yellow linen I had lying around.

From what I can gather, a lot of block printing is done using wooden or copper blocks like the one in the image above (grabbed from a random ebay auction). The blocks are crafted in such a way that the design will flow from each printed block. The raised section of the block is covered in fabric paint or dye from an ink pad and then the block is stamped onto the fabric.

For my first attempt I decided not to buy a block from ebay as I only wanted a small design. Also, alot of them seem to be discarded blocks from India and I would want a complete pattern. Instead, I crafted a mini-block using 'Make 'n' Bake', a mont marte femo knock off. I got the idea from aan article by Lindsay Boardman for a polymer clay cookie stamp. I took the idea and made a small quatra-heart pattern stamp. The hard part was getting the hearts flat. As you can see in the image above, when I defined the groove between the hearts, the bottom two buckled. I used Pebeo's Setacolour opaque for this first experiment. Mostly because I have a couple of pots sitting around my house from a previous abortive fabric painting attempt. I ended up painting the dye onto the stamp as I didn't have an ink pad and I wasn't going to be doing many stamps. It took me a while to master getting most of the design on the fabric. The left two stamps in the image below are the best print I achieved with the stamp alone. The print on the right I touched up with a paint brush.

I quite like this effect and will try it again to make a small Persian headscarf or possibly even a full tunic (if I get around to making more stamps). In the mean time, I'm going to look for a rubber stamp of two crossed quills. The type of rubber stamp Samantha used to use for her card embossing art. I suspect it may work well for a small block printing project.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Embroidered cushion Mk II

Japanese fabric (?) I found on flicker, so simple and effective.

Since making the previous mint cushion, I've been pondering more cushions. Ideally I'd love to have a pile of them to flop on in front of the heater. As I had plenty of mint green bed-sheet left over after my previous cushion attempt, I decided to make another green cushion. This time I've taken my inspiration from two sources, a blog by ArtisticFingers who makes the most beautiful embroidered items and the image above.

I started by cutting out section of cloth with 5cm allowance on each side. Then I divided it into squares with coarse stitches. Since then I've been filling in the blocks in alternatively with whatever pattern appeals to me on the day I start. I have completed five squares so far. I'm not entirly happy how some of the patterns turned out, but I also don't dislike them enough to unpick them. I am really loving the texture of this cushion so far.

(The fabric is a little crumpled, because I took it to Bairnsdale on Friday so I could work on it between classes.)


Additional:  I'm down to four more squares and I'm running out of ideas. Generally, I'm trying for geometric patterns. I even unpicked a sort of star field because it didn't really fit the theme. Suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Block printing

Cotton red and brown block printed textile from Fustat, Egypt. Item 73.408 The Textile Museum

I don't tend to do image round-ups all that often, because you can only show a few choice images in a good blog post. Instead, I store all my reference images in Pinterest so my collection slowly grows rather than remaining a static blog post, or even worse, having to revise or repost. Since receiving two beautiful block printed sarees from Flori of Northshield I've been investigating the process of block printing. I'll also been looking at various scraps of block printed fabric originating from India. Most of these scraps were found in Fustat, the old capital of Egypt. Due to the drier climate and the fact the Egyptians don't really burn their dead, these pieces have been preserved. According to the Textile Museum, Fustat fragments are red or blue dyes with a variety patterns, both open and closed.

I've included a number of images here as I'm considering doing my own block printed item, probably a small headscarf or heraldic favors. Once I've worked out what works best for me, I may even teach a class at St Monicas. Time to see if my vague recollections of what Piers taught me 10 years ago actually work!
Textile fragment. India. Gujarat, 13th - 14th C. Cotton plain wave, block-resist dyed. From LACMA

Textile Fragment, Egypt, Early Medieval. Linen plain weave, resist dyed. From LACMA -  (M.2002.1.695)

It seems that the complexity of the extant patterns in period are similar to what is achieved today, there are some lovely examples on my Pennsic Treasures 2 post. Also, this white and red dupatta which I got at the same time as my Pennsic Sarees.