The Indigo Noche pillow celebrates the masterful “jaspe” imagery of Guatemala. Combined with the spiral star batik patterning from Vietnam, one might imagine a gathering of people out under a canopy of stars. This one-of-a-kind lumbar pillow is embellished with a colorful Hmong cross stitch design embroidered in Yunnan, China.
25” x 15” (63.5 cm x 38 cm)
Front - cotton and hemp
Back - linen, in black
Down feather pillow insert
Fabric origins: Guatemala, Vietnam, China
The figurative jaspe indigo hand woven fabric is from Guatemala, and is a perfect example of the intricate technique of “jaspe” a technique of wrapping warp threads in a certain manner to form a resist that creates a pattern when threads are placed in a dye bath. During the seven years I lived in Guatemala, I developed a great appreciation for jaspe (also known as “ikat” in other parts of the world). It is the traditional technique for creating patterns in Guatemalan fabrics. This fabric is from the area of Totonicipan located in the Highlands of Guatemala. Driving through the Highlands, it was common to see men laying out yards of warp stretched on poles along the roadside and binding threads in this resist-dye technique. The jaspe pattern in this pillow is repeated in perfect form.
Paired with the Guatemalan jaspe is indigo dyed cotton on a hemp fabric, with a traditional Hmong batik motif in a triangular shape, embellished with a gray thread tassel at the end point. The Hmong women use bamboo pens with cotton nibs which they dip into melted beeswax to draw a variety of traditional patterns on white cotton cloth. Then the cloth is dyed in indigo before it is boiled to release the beeswax. This particular piece is from Craft Link, a fair trade organization that supports ethnic minority groups and traditional craft producers to revive and promote traditional culture and skills through handicraft production. Craft Link is located in Hanoi. During the six visits I have made to Vietnam, not once did I have the opportunity to visit any of the Hill Tribes in the northern part of Vietnam. But I must admit that the textiles produced by the Hill Tribes are notably some of my favorites.
The brightly colored cross-stitch Hmong embroidery is from China. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work with Threads of Yunnan, a fair trade Danish development organization that has worked with the Yi, Miao, and Lisu Minority people which were relocated after a devastating earthquake hit the western part of China in 1996. I was fortunate to have been able to travel to a village built by the government for housing the refugees. I also visited a remote village and learned how hemp was processed, spun, and woven into a fabric that would become the traditional dress worn daily by the Hmong women. Threads of Yunnan has worked with the weavers and embroiderers on product development and market their handicraft through a catalog and website. When not busy with handicrafts, these women are involved in farming and harvesting crops. That visit was truly one of the more special trips I have made.
African trade beads I bought directly from a bead producer in Accra, Ghana, embellish this lumbar pillow.