MONO JAPAN Artist in Residence Program 2019 REPORT-Maryam Kordbacheh

| published by MONO MAKERS MEET

Maryam Kordbacheh in collaboration with Yoshida shingi shozoku in Kyoto

Yoshida Shingi Shozoku is a traditional tailor producing Shinto priest costume in Kyoto. ‘Shingi Shozoku’ is a Shinto priest costume, Japanese traditional costume originated from the late Heian period (794 – 1185). Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan until the end of the Edo era (1603 – 1868). The city was host to a lot of official ceremonies, events, and the Shinto rituals. The tailoring business for the ritual costumes, therefore, thrived in Kyoto. The ritual costumes are used in the imperial court, in various kinds of ceremonies and for Shinto priests. The special colors, patterns and construction of the garments have been inherited throughout more than a thousand years without any change. 

Maryam made in-depth research on the characteristic design details and craft techniques of Shinto priest costume and incorporated the details into a series of modern garments. She had opportunities to look into the archive of imperial garments, visit several shrines to see various Shinto ceremonies and visit traditional textile maker and weaver in the region.

The first thing which inspired Maryam throughout the research was the unique pattern making system.

Maryam has normally made her pattern three-dimensionally like sculpting on her torso. On the other hand, the pattern of Shinto priest costume is very two dimensional like an origami construction. She reinterpreted the two-dimensional pattern and used it effectively in the collection of the items. In addition, she made research of Japanese traditional colors and the specific traditional techniques of the costume making such as rope making and draping. Those elements are also effectively incorporated into her design.  

The collection consists of exclusive series and casual series. The exclusive series consists of dresses, jackets and trousers, which focus on making the most of the craftsmanship and the quality of the material. T-shirts and accessories are designed for the casual series which is more accessible for a wider audience. Yoshida Shingi Shozoku and Maryam will improve the design further and finalize the commercialization of the products by next summer 2020.

Weekly reports from the designers

Maryam Kordbacheh had a great start of the residency at a Shinto priest uniform maker in Kyoto. As an introduction, she has been brought to several historical shrines, museums, traditional textile makers and an embroidery workshop in Kyoto. She has also got an opportunity to look into the archives of the garments that belong to the emperor of Japan. The craftsmen’s passion for the tailoring craft and its tradition is giving her a great inspiration to develop her idea further.

After the inspiring introduction weeks, Maryam Kordbacheh has started brainstorming and working on her colour palette, designs, constructions and details. Reflecting on the traditional techniques and philosophy that she has learned so far, she takes the next step to translate the input into her own language. 

Maryam’s working table is filled with colors and experiments. She has started mapping out
the sample of colors, fabrics and constructions to sharpen her idea. Having imperial garments next to her torso as a reference, she is diving into research on shapes and drapes.

 In Kyoto, Maryam is developing her design by making little trials, learning details about techniques, dying fabrics and working with photos. Besides the making process, her eyes are caught by the great variety of beautiful tools which are designed very thoughtfully. She is also fascinated with the way craftsmen pack and fold the garments, which shows their special care and respect for each garment.

In Kyoto, first fabrics have died in chosen colours. 

With great help from craftsmen, first prototypes are getting cut and sewn together. Many meters and meters of handwork is being involved. The important summer event in Kyoto ‘Gion festival’, has also been inspiring to Maryam.

Related links:
Maryam Kordbacheh
Yoshida Shingi Shozoku (Shinto priest ceremonial costumes, Kyoto

This is a contribution article from MJ AIR 2019 program.
Text by MONO JAPAN FOUNDATION, Photo by Maryam Kordbacheh


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