ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “fabric


Originated from the nearby provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guizhou, the hand making of blue nankeen cotton fabric have been a local heritage for centuries.  Dyed in indigo and finished with white traditional patterns, the traditional blue nankeen fabrics have caught the eyes of many people, including Japanese artist Kubo Mase (久保麻紗).  Kubo Mase was a prominent collector of blue nankeen fabrics, dyeing tools, handlooms, and many other blue nankeen related tools collected from the rural areas across Southern China since 1950s.  Kubo Mase founded the Chinese Hand Printed Blue Nankeen Gallery in a small courtyard at Changle Road Lane 637.  It houses many of her collections, and also hosts a small shop selling hand printed blue nankeen fabrics.

Before leaving Shanghai, we were keen to drop by the Chinese Hand Printed Blue Nankeen Gallery to know more about the traditional indigo cotton.  Following the sign from the main road, we found our way through small lanes and courtyards until reaching the gallery forecourt where a few rows of indigo fabrics were hung.  In an old two-storey house, Kubo Mase’s collection and a small shop of a variety of blue nankeen products made up the off-the-beaten-track attraction for anyone who is interested in cultural heritage and beautiful handcrafts.  In a nation where modernization is rapidly wiping out authentic heritage, historical neighborhoods, and rural culture, the gallery appears like a peaceful oasis where the old ways of blue nankeen making is quietly preserved.

DSC_2539Entrance into the gallery forecourt.

DSC_2533Blue nankeen fabric hanging in the forecourt of the gallery.

DSC_2537Blue nankeen fabric hanging in the forecourt of the gallery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore blue nankeen fabric hanging on the second floor of the gallery building.

DSC_2542Inside the gallery building, many blue nankeen fabrics were framed and displayed all over.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA With nice wooden floor and nostalgic pendant lamps, the gallery interior was an atmospheric old mansion.

DSC_2545On the second level, a traditional handloom was on display.

DSC_2551The Koinobori (Japanese carp flag) inspired print was also on display among the traditional blue nankeen fabrics.

DSC_2558Detailed patterns of a traditional blue nankeen fabric.

DSC_2560Detailed patterns of a traditional blue nankeen fabric.

DSC_2562Second floor exhibition hall showcasing dyeing tools in the glass display counters.

DSC_2567Traditional clothing made with the blue nankeen fabric.

DSC_2570A hallway marked by neat archways was also used to display blue nankeen fabrics.


Read other posts on Shanghai 2016:
0.0 SHANGHAI, 2016
1.0 SUZHOU MUSEUM, Suzhou, China
3.0 LION GROVE GARDEN, Suzhou, China
5.0 ROCKBUND, Shanghai, China
6.0 M50, Shanghai, China
7.0 1933 SHANGHAI (老場坊) , Shanghai, China
8.0 POLY GRAND THEATRE (上海保利大劇院), Shanghai, China
10.0 POWER STATION OF ART, Shanghai, China
11.0 LONG MUSEUM (龍美術館), West Bund, Shanghai, China
12.0 THE BUND (外灘) AT NIGHT, Shanghai, China
13.0 TIANZIFANG (田子坊), Shanghai, China
15.0 LUJIAZUI (陸家嘴) OF PUDONG (浦東), Shanghai, China

YEN CHOW STREET HAWKER BAZAAR (欽州街小販市場), Sham Shui Po ( 深水埗), Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, redevelopment of an old neighborhood is often a controversial matter, especially when it involves eviction of existing occupants, or replacing an old neighborhood with new residential towers and shopping malls.  In recent years there has been public concerns regarding the anticipated relocation of the vendors at Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar in Sham Shui Po.

Opening its doors since the 1970s at the intersection of Yen Chow Street and Lai Chi Kok Road, the specialized textile bazaar has been a popular destination for fabric seekers from fashion design students to amateur seamstress throughout the city.  The bazaar stalls are laid out in a grid pattern, under patches of roof covering consisted of corrugated metal and nylon sheets.  A visit to the bazaar is like a treasure hunt that involves meandering through narrow aisles and flipping through piles of colourful fabrics, bags of buttons and rolls of ribbons at each 3m x 3m vendor stall.  The bazaar is chaotic, cramped, dark, and can be stuffy in humid summer days.  Despite its resemblance to a shanty town , the bazaar does not deter anyone who determines to hunt for prizable fabrics and accessories in affordable prices, and to enjoy a disappearing shopping culture that emphasizes human interactions.  It is the type of old school shopping experience in which friendly and long-lasting relationship between returned customers and vendors can be built up over time.

The unique atmosphere, unpretentious setting, and sense of community of the Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar belong to a disappearing Hong Kong.  In a city shaped mostly by retail franchises and real estate developers, and where retail streets and shopping centres are looking more repetitive as ever, small independent businesses and grassroots communities are becoming more vulnerable and helpless in the rapid process of urban development.

1From outside, Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar looks like a shabby village built at a city park.

2Once inside, the chaotic bazaar is a treasure trove for many.

3Fabrics and accessories are piled up high along both sides of narrow aisles.

4Some vendors own multiple stalls.  In many occasions, customers would need to call the owner over from another corner of the bazaar.

5After forty years, a number of the existing trees have become permanent features in the bazaar.

6Each stall has its unique arrangement and textile selection.

7Some stalls even offer sewing service.

8One may wonder how the vendor can keep track of his or her merchandises from the piles of items at the stall.

9Apart from fabrics, ribbons are also popular.

10And so as buttons of different colours and styles.

11Encouraging messages written by customers and supporters for the bazaar vendors are pinned up at a stall.

12Big banner urging for establishing an official textile market at the current location is hung at the bazaar entrance.

13A supporting banner made of fabric strips is also hung at the exterior fence along Lai Chi Kok Road.

14Photos showing the vendor community expressing their unity and determination to fight for their own survival at the current site, in protest to the government’s relocation proposal of the bazaar.