17 August 2007

i assume people have always communicated through their clothing. today, whether it's ex- plicit (a slogan t-shirt), a 'uni- form' (waitress, gang member, frat boy, dyke), or only just subtle enough for the elite to understand (signs of status).

but i haven't been able to come up with another example of a culture who did so as widely and specifically as have the japanese. (can you?)

The use of family crests for identifica- tion and decoration became popular during the Kamakura period (1185–1333). Many of these miniature masterpieces were based on plants and animals and are still in use and understood today. Originally their apparent simplicity was a ‘visual’ shorthand for a complex sequence of ideas known to a select few. This shared secrecy and playfulness (often based on puns) greatly enhanced their appeal. Depiction by suggestion is a recurring theme in Japanese art. 1

i can see that hav- ing a pict- orial lang- uage as well as a tradition, for example, of having crests for families as well as flora, fauna, and more, may have predicated japan's highly symbolic textiles, but i can't see why the west had so little. at least, once we saw these patterns, we embraced them--though devoid, of course, of 'secrecy,' 'playfulness,' and meaning. but not without delight.

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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