Friday, May 17, 2013

Proof exists!

Do you remember when I was interviewed by the Curator of Exhibits of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska in early March? It was a great interview, we had so much to talk about, and in the end I will get a copy of her research project on the 100 Good Wishes Quilt tradition.

During the interview I was surprised to learn that I was the only person she had interviewed that had actually become a quilter because of the tradition. If you haven't read that story, you can find it here and if you are new here and don't know yet what a 100 Good Wishes Quilt is, you can learn all about it here. I thought that fact, that I was the only one that can attribute my discovery of and love of quilting to this ancient Chinese tradition is pretty cool. The added knowledge that I have made and will be making more of these quilts for other Chinese-American children was also very interesting to Marin.

The curator, while doing her research, had found numerous references to 100 Good Wishes Quilts (Bai Jai Bie) in the adoptive community but she had yet to find definitive proof that the tradition actually existed in the past or does exist today in China. She had found proof of a Bai Ais Pao, a robe which was referred to in the book "Imperial Women" by Pearl S Buck (a big name in the adoption community). The book is about the final Empress of the Qing dynasty. At this point in the book, she is a concubine in the Imperial household, but has birthed the only make child of the Emperor. She has to leave her baby alone for a while and is thinking of ways to protect him, as well as obligate the other powerful Manchu families to back her son's claims to the throne.

The book reads " She must offer the child as an adopted son, by symbol, to other powerful families in her clan. Yet what friends had she? She thought and she pondered and she devised this pan. From the head of each of the highest one hundred families in the Empire, she required a bolt of the finest silk. From the silks she commanded the palace tailors to cut one hundred small pieces and from these make a robe for her child. Thus he belonged, by symbol, to one hundred strong and noble families, and under their shelter the gods would fear harm to him."
 I thought you would enjoy this bit of the back story. Anyway, the curator and a couple of her colleagues are in China now doing the actual research and they are blogging about it. The blog is Pieced in China. Yesterday's post is titled Demos and in the post Marin confirms that Yes the tradition is real, it did exist in the past and still exists today but in a bit of a different form.

Go ahead and pop on over there to read the rest of the post yourself. To say that I am beyond excited about this news is putting it mildly. I truly believe that a 100 Good Wishes Quilt is a wonderful thing to make for any new baby but to find out that our belief that this truly is an ancient Chinese tradition and therefore something my children will treasure even more, makes it all that more special to me.

I look forward to following along on the rest of this groups' travels, to eventually read the research paper that comes from all of this and to visit the International Quilt Study Center and Museum myself one day.

8 of you added your own colorful comments:

beaquilter said...

wow! great story.....we saw a documentary recently about Chinese girls who were adopted in the US and they went back to China and found their biological parents for some sort of closing for then, some it brought closure, some it hurt more.... can't remember the title, it was netflix streaming.

Unknown said...

wow! great story..... I thought you would enjoy this bit of the back story. Anyway, the curator and a couple of her colleagues are in China now doing the actual research and they are blogging about it.
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Heleen Groot said...

An amazing story with a very powerful message. I love the history behind quilts and quilt blocks. This one will stay with me. I must make one too.... for the children in my foundation. Incredible! Thank you for sharing.

Tina said...

Great post Sis! I am so glad that our family gets to be part of such a wonderful tradition.

Chris Dodsley @made by ChrissieD said...

Fabulous to learn more about these quilts and the tradition behind them. Really enjoyed reading your post :)

Rachell said...

that's amazing! love creating your own unique pieces of history and tradition!
I love the idea of red background--I really want to do that for Sean's will be a Swoon made with Pieces of Hope. I need input you think the red background will look ok with the orange prints?
I think I need to make a sample block.
loving the dragon print!

SewCalGal said...

I've been impressed to learn more about the quilting movement in China. Thanks for increasing awareness.


Rachel said...

Pretty amazing! Love the history and the future of this :-)