Synthetic Fabrics: For much of history, the fabric was a luxury available to the elite. The east dominated the production of silk and cotton, which were transported at enormous cost and danger to human life over the Silk Routes to the West. Most people owned one set of clothes which they wore over linen underwear which could be washed.
ABOUT SILK ROUTE, THE PRIMARY GOODS OR IDEAS TRADED, AND HISTORICAL IMPACT
The Ainu. Picture from Thummanit Phuvasatien .
Ainu: We who love textiles know what it is to revere an exceptional piece of weaving or embroidery. But there is a community where this is literally practiced. And that is by the Ainu.
History of Ainu
The Ainu have lived on the island of Hokkaido for millennia, populating a culture distinct from the Japanese. Following a Hunter-gatherer lifestyle, they, like most communities that live off the land, revered all things natural. This reverence interestingly extended to tools and clothes, the minutiae of daily life. One fascinating aspect of their culture is the reverence of bears, which are seen as gods. The Ainu would often collect bear cubs and bring them up in their homes, exactly as they brought up children. Eventually, these bears were sacrificed in a ritualistic ceremony, with their flesh and fur highly valued as divine. (more…) Smocking: Those of us who grew up in the 1960s and the decades before then have all worn gingham dresses, very often with smocking. I know that I associate smocking exclusively with dresses for little girls. But that’s not how the craft started. In a reversal of timelines from most forms of embroidery, which have been the province of the elite, smocking began as a means to render peasant clothing practical. And this is what makes it unique among all the forms of embroidery.
Embroidery Series by Marasim