Journal — Traditional Techniques

Color, Identity, and Culture

Cultural traditions Dyeing Traditional Techniques

Color, Identity, and Culture

Throughout human history, people have attributed power and meaning to color. Humans have made great efforts to harness that power, to use color as an expression of identity. Even today, in Western cultures, there is a science of color that examines its psychological effects. For example, red is associated with excitement, green with peace, yellow with optimism, and purple with creativity. But does color convey the same meaning across different cultures? The Maasai, for example, use a complex language of color in their beadwork. Red is associated with strength, bravery, and protection and is compared to the blood of a cow...

Read more →


The Deep Roots Of Basketry

Coiled Basketry Cultural traditions Traditional Techniques

The Deep Roots Of Basketry

Traditional examples of basketry can be found in nearly every place in the world that has been inhabited by humans. Basketry, a form of weaving, has been used to make sandals, mats, huts, fish nets, fences for animals, beehives, hats, filters for beer or wine, strainers, rafts, and all forms of storage containers by folks all over the world. Some of the most ancient evidence of basketry can be found in dry caves sites in the now western United States. The arid environmental conditions have allowed for the preservation of materials that would have long degraded in a wetter place....

Read more →


Weaving: This Most Ancient Craft is Part of Being Human

Cultural traditions Traditional Techniques Weaving

Weaving: This Most Ancient Craft is Part of Being Human

Did you know that weaving is most likely the oldest craft tradition known to humankind? Archaeological evidence indicates that weaving has been around for at least 20,000 years. Weaving materials to create fencing, nets, sandals, baskets, and textiles has been part of our human heritage for many hundreds of generations. Even braiding hair is a form of weaving! Perhaps this is why the simple act of weaving- stitching over and under and over and under- can be such a meditative and deeply satisfying process, producing a flow state and a respite from the busyness of the day.  In fact, weaving is so...

Read more →


The Ancient Roots of Block Printed Textiles

Block Printed Textiles Cultural traditions Traditional Techniques

The Ancient Roots of Block Printed Textiles

Throughout Rajasthani history the embellishment of both decorative and utilitarian items has been highly valued by people of all social classes. Homes, clothing, even domesticated animals are often adorned in geometric and botanically-inspired patterns in a joyous array of colors. Art and craft traditions of Rajasthan include hand-woven carpets, jewelry making, wood carving, leather work, metal work, stone carving, puppetry and pottery.  Textile craft is an especially rich tradition of this region. Different areas throughout Rajasthan are known for their unique color preferences, design motifs and techniques. Block printing, batik, tie dye, mirror work, embroidery, and appliqué are techniques used...

Read more →


The Symbolic Power of Maasai Beadwork

Cultural traditions Maasai Beadwork Traditional Techniques Women artisans

The Symbolic Power of Maasai Beadwork

Prior to contact with Europeans, Maasai women crafted intricate adornments with beads they made from clay, wood, bone, copper, brass, shells, seeds, and dried grasses. Glass beads were introduced in the 19thcentury by Europeans. Beaded jewelry is worn by both men and women. The colors and patterns communicate information about the wearer’s age, social status, marital status and whether they have male or female children. Both men and women wear beaded pendants that signify the age class or generation to which they belong. The colors and arrangements of beads in jewelry and other embellished objects is a symbolic language meant...

Read more →