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Batik wall tapestry made by hand in interior China, with small boy and flute on a water buffalo. Great for a boy's room. Although I've seen many small boys on their family's water buffalo, this is not a typical design. Very charming.

SIZE: 36" x 22"
FIBER: Cotton
COUNTRY: Guizhou Province, China (north of Vietnam)
VINTAGE: Unused - in original condition

To see more of my vintage hand-dyed batiks, see my Section Batiks.

THEMES: Ethnic Chinese batiks from the provinces many times depict something familiar out of every day life. Water buffalo was an integral part of the family and sometimes lived in the same building as the family. Another popular theme was courting rituals. The young people in the province traditionally never traveled far from home (think National Geographic pictures with rice paddies and water buffalo). So taking produce to market was probably a big event. And the festivals held frequently were an important opportunity for the young people to meet each other. Since the teens were probably shy, elaborate courting traditions evolved through generations, which included dancing and music. The girls were probably married off sometime after the age of 15 and became the domestic worker in the boy's family; I read that sometimes the girls never returned to their homes and family again.

WHAT IS A BATIK: It's a method of coloring cloth which developed independently in many cultures centuries ago, and therefore African batiks have a different character than, say, Indonesian batiks. Wax is applied to cloth in certain patterns and then dye is applied; the dye won't reach the area where wax has been applied. The cloth is dried on the bushes, then the wax is removed, new wax is applied and sections of the cloth are dyed a second color. Each color on a batik requires a separate cycle.

Since each batik is made by hand, no two batiks are alike. Even if they are the same design, made by the same artisan, the shade of color will vary from one to the next, and the lines will be a little different. I always look for the "goofs" made by the artisan, such as a drop of dye where it shouldn't be or dye in the wrong place -- to me that adds to the intrinsic value of the piece. Note the "veins" some of the batiks have outside of the main pattern -- these little lines are where the wax has cracked and some dye has seeped through and really adds to the overall beauty of a batik.

MY STORY: Years ago I had occasion to live in Guizhou Province, China -- at that time it was the poorest province in China. I was the only white woman to ever live in this village and was quite a spectacle walking down the street, with all the kids following me and yelling who knows
what. The local farmers drove their water buffalo past my quarters every day, and we had rice paddies surrounding the village. I didn't speak Chinese but the people were very kind and generous to me, considering they had very little themselves.

Women in the province had this wonderful talent of making batiks. It's such an old tradition that I'm told the indigo/blue dye made there is a secret among the old women who have blue arms from a lifetime of making indigo. When I returned to San Diego I kept thinking there should be a way to pump some money into the province, so I hired a young Chinese engineer who went by bus to the villages on Saturday to locate the artisans and buy batiks which he shipped to me. These have been sold in museum shops and stores. I have quite a few left after all these years, and they should be enjoyed. I have never gotten over how charming the batiks are and how talented the peasant women who make them are.

Vintage Batik Water Buffalo, Boy and Flute - Vintage Chinese Batik Tapestry - Handmade in the Provinces


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  • Vintage item
  • Style: Vintage Batik
  • Pattern: Water Buffalo Boy
  • Material: Cotton batik
  • Ships worldwide from United States
  • Feedback: 1042 reviews
  • Favorited by: 40 people

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