ancient fragments become an emperor's new clothing
July 5, 2009 12:57 AM   Subscribe

Clothes made of ceramic shards from the Ming, Yuan, Qing and Song Dynasties by Li Xiaofeng, a 43-year-old Beijing artist who has found a way to link his contemporary work with traditional Chinese 10th Century art. Some of the porcelain bits were salvaged from the roof tiles of the emperor’s palace.

Close-up of a dress.

Zoomable images.

piles of ceramic pieces sit in bins sorted by date, colour and shape

Lady Gaga's outfit inspired by Li Xiaofeng?

Top Ten Weirdest Dresses l other examples of glass clothing, a flower dress, glass spun dress, a disco ball dress.
posted by nickyskye (12 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I have a deep fondness for ridiculous and useless high fashion. Inconvenience is somehow so beautiful.
posted by idiopath at 2:04 AM on July 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Western culture has always been fascinated by ancient Chinese medical knowledge. Perhaps there is something to Li's work. There are all kinds of products that claim to treat arthritis, from lotions to potions, pills and elixirs. But the latest treatment that claims to treat the painful symptoms of arthritis is ceramic clothing.

Peter Lane, the spruiker for the clothing range says arthritis sufferers have experienced great results, particularly those with osteoarthritis. He says the clothing is effective because of its ability to reflect the body’s own heat in the form of infrared rays. "The ceramic particles, by reflecting the infrared rays, are actually stimulating your body molecules underneath the fabric," Lane says. He claims the clothing stimulates circulation which assists pain relief.
posted by netbros at 4:21 AM on July 5, 2009

That quote provided by netbros has taught me a new word:
From Wiktionary:
spruiker (plural spruikers)
1. (Australian) One who promotes his own cause; one who toots their own horn.
2. (figuratively) A person standing outside a place of business trying to persuade patrons to enter, or vigorously trying to persuade customers to purchase their wares (ie. a fruiterer calling out the price of bananas).

posted by beagle at 5:38 AM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

These are fascinating and all, and I guess, as someone who studies the past, I should be reconciled to the fact that old things have always been reused and recycled throughout history. Still, I have to wonder at this statement: Some of the porcelain bits were salvaged from the roof tiles of the emperor’s palace. I am sure there is an excess of broken old ceramic sherds in China, but - salvaged from the roof tiles of the emperor's palace - is this really true?, and, if it is, why aren't they in a museum?
posted by gudrun at 8:28 AM on July 5, 2009

This is good stuff. This piece in particular I find fascinating -- I just can't quit looking at it! I see a fair amount of fashion, but I've never seen anything quite like that dress. I'm curious about how it moves and what it sounds like when it's in motion. It strikes me as sort of hot-Storm-Trooper-meets-weird-Tea-Party.
posted by heyho at 9:14 AM on July 5, 2009

I really like those ceramic dresses. He made something that isn't practically wearable, but the fact that it stands on its own as displayable art makes it awesome.
posted by orme at 9:18 AM on July 5, 2009

That's some serious Final Fantasy looking stuff right there. Nice!
posted by yeloson at 9:24 AM on July 5, 2009

As a mosaicist, I just about fell over looking at these. The construction is really smart for short-term use, and if you mounted them on dress forms (I'd actually use more solid ones than the wire one's he's using) for longer display.

Gudrun - That comment about the roof tiles popped out at me, too. If it was broken and on the ground, if the bits of roof came from a latter-day replacement roof, AND they had permission, I'd be OK with it. It's surprising (and gratifying!) what people will give you for free just because they see it as broken. Or unwanted.

Having said that, it looks like he started from fairly intact pieces of china - the evenness of the curves and cuts (and the design patterns look like he used two sides of a single cup or bowl or pitcher) make me wonder if about the condition of the original pieces, and what value they had even if they were cracked or chipped. The idea that he carved up a genuine antique in good condition makes me itch.
posted by julen at 10:03 AM on July 5, 2009

What a dish!
posted by jfrancis at 12:10 PM on July 5, 2009

heyho: yeah, that was the one that stood out for me, as well. An exceptional piece of sculpture - I see a mix in it of the Chinese idealized body shape and classic Greek sculpture as filtered through the European Renaissance.
posted by idiopath at 12:26 PM on July 5, 2009

This one is easily my favorite. I love the deep earth tones and the sleek design. These are great!
posted by Malice at 12:49 PM on July 5, 2009

Did a bit of Googling; shards from the Ming, Yuan, Qing and Song Dynasties are easily available, both from shipwrecks and because the city of Jingdezhen, where a lot of the ceramics were made has a massive amount of shards available.

For the last 1000 years all kinds of Chinese porcelain shards and kiln debris has been dumped here as the city grew. So much in fact that the city of Jingdezhen are now resting on a thick layer of it, 30 feet deep or more in places.

I would imagine there are ample, non-museum quality, but still beautiful shards for the artist to choose from in making his mosaic, patchwork sculptures.
posted by nickyskye at 5:28 PM on July 5, 2009

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