TASA’s Spring Program: Symbolism in Japanese Textiles

On April 8, Merrily Baird, former CIA employee, presented a program on symbolism in Japanese textiles. 35 TASA members and friends attended the program held in the artifact-filled home of world-traveler Carolyn Branch.

Merrily spoke about the importance of the color purple in Japanese fabrics. Purple has been associated with lasting love because the dye comes from the Murasaki plant, a plant with long roots.

Merrily gave a historical perspective to the images used in kimonos.  She also illustrated her talk with swaths of fabric, ceramic pieces and other items.  TASA members enjoyed looking at the images of long grass, long turtle, cranes, plum blossoms, rivers, turnips, carrots, peonies, 8-petal flowers for the Buddhist 8-fold path and many other symbols.  Unlike in Chinese textiles, human figures are not commonly found on kimonos.

Submitted by Gail Goodwin


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