Sazigyo, Burmese Manuscript Binding Tapes: Woven Miniatures of Buddhist Art
PUBLISHED: June 2014
SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Art
BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 304 pp., 920 color illus, 9 x 11 in.
DISTRIBUTED FOR: Silkworm Books
[from publisher’s website]
Sazigyo are fine, tablet-woven Burmese tapes used to bind the palm-leaf manuscripts of an earlier era. Tiny images and extended texts were deftly woven into the long, colorful bindings. These Buddhist “textile texts” were commissioned by donors to make merit in the hope of attaining a better rebirth and ultimately nirvana.
This beautiful book elucidates the religious and social context of sazigyo and describes in detail the weaves, texts, designs, and images. It contains stunning, full-scale reproductions and enlargements of many hundreds of sazigyo segments found in collections throughout the world and presents translated excerpts from 150 sazigyo texts.
The book is a celebration of a craft now vanishing and a tribute to the skill and flair of Burmese women weavers. It will appeal to weavers and textile designers and to all admirers of exquisite craftsmanship.
RALPH ISAACS is coauthor of Visions from the Golden Land: Burma and the Art of Lacquer.
Stunning blue decked with Buddhas and mandala. Photo by Mrs. Lee Mei-yin.
Every now and then, one encounters an item of human culture that is so striking and poignant that one sincerely believes there is nothing else in the world’s museums like it. Two of these remarkable items are a Miao (苗族) child’s garments, one embroidered for everyday life and another made for festivities. They belong to Mrs. Lee Mei-yin, and were displayed from the 15th of December 2013 to the 9th of February 2014 as part of the University Museum and Art Gallery’s Embroidered Identities exhibit.
During her extensive travels, Mrs. Lee bought or was bestowed many artifacts thanks to her relationships with ethnic minority communities. Her Miao apparel was acquired at Langmu Village in Chongan Town (重安镇), which is in Huangping County (黄平县) within Guizhou Province (貴州). As part of the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture (黔東南苗族侗族自治州), Chongan Town is home to some of China’s more inaccessible treasures. These treasures are none other than the people themselves, who make up a fraction of the already miniscule 8% of China’s minority population.
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January 04, 2014 (Thailand)
The Siam Society will host a talk and introduction of Mr. Ralph Isaacs’ book ‘Woven Miniatures of Buddhist Art – Sazigyo’ on Thursday, January 9, 2014.
Mr. Isaacs will describe sazigyo—tapes or ribbons which were used for binding bundles of palm-leaf manuscripts in Burma/Myanmar. The woven bands were commissioned by Buddhist donors gifting a scriptural manuscript to a monastery to make spiritual merit in order to attain a better rebirth and ultimately nirvana.
The texts display the creative exuberance of the weavers and reveal the cultural and religious sensibilities of their times. The weavers employed a double-faced weave which enables complex script, decorative motifs and miniature pictorial images. Some of these tapes show breathtaking skill. The craft flourished for a couple of centuries, but is now extinct.
Mr. Isaacs will also introduce his book about sazigyo, written at the urging of master weaver Peter Collingwood, who considered sazigyo weavers among the best ever and deserving of posthumous recognition. Continue reading →
Review by Jeffrey Martin
Title Enlightened Ways: The Many Streams of Buddhist Art in Thailand
Authors Heidi Tan, Alan Chong
Publisher Asian Civilisations Museum, 2012
ISBN 9810746288, 9789810746285
Issued in conjunction with an exhibit through mid-April (2013) at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, Enlightened Ways: The Many Streams of Buddhist Art in Thailand examines the varied religious influences on Thai Buddhist art. One might expect this be little more than Theravada Buddhism, but the curators of the exhibit are interested to demonstrate otherwise. Through a collection of nearly 200 items, the influence of Mahayana Buddhism, Brahmanism, and indigenous spirit worship are explored in examples of sculpture, painting, and enlightened manuscripts. Objects of day-to-day living are included as well, such as ritual implements, amulets, furniture, textiles, and ceramics. The works are divided into eight historical periods, with the earliest pieces dating to 5th century CE and the latest constructed especially for the exhibit, a replica of a Salak Yom tree, typically raised at rural festivals and decorated with material and monetary donations to members of the local sangha. Continue reading →
Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo works on a thangka piece in the studio of her Oxnard home. She offers an online virtual apprentice program that has attracted students from around the world.
By Alicia Doyle, VENTURA COUNTY STAR
Posted July 8, 2012 at 8:55 p.m.
PHOTO BY ROB VARELA, VENTURA COUNTY STAR
Ancient art revived
Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo was living in India, volunteering for the planning council of the Tibetan government in exile and studying Buddhism, when her life took an unexpected turn.
“I went on an economic development tour of some traditional arts workshops and found a group of Tibetans creating a colorful image out of silk at the Norbulingka Institute in Himachal Pradesh,” said Rinchen-Wongmo, 51, of Oxnard.
That was in 1992, when she was living in Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama lives.
“I was completely entranced by the color and beauty,” she said. “I was also captivated by the integration of Buddhist teachings with such extraordinary handicraft. I immediately wanted to learn, having no idea my life would take a completely new trajectory from that point.” Continue reading →