At night, behind the bamboo curtain at ibu, a gallery of rare creations play - children’s tiger hats, hand-crafted silver horses, embroidered dragons, tiny shoes. Our once-ever Yao exhibit has brought together for a short time these exquisite treasures on consignment to us by two of the most knowledgable collectors in the country who specialize in Chinese minority antiques and vintage pieces. A gift to Charleston, to ibu. To you.
They won’t be with us much longer, so I wanted to take you for a walk through the gallery to show you some of my favorite pieces. At the top, a long cotton indigo coat is newly crafted by women in Guizhou who skillfully paint wax onto cloth, which is then submerged in indigo. The wax resists the dye, leaving a lovely hand-drawn image (similar to batik). Long to the calf or short to mid-thigh, mine goes with me to the grocery with jeans, to a neighborhood party with white pants; keeps me, even in summer, cool, calm, collected.
The jacket on the bottom left is cotton, pounded with egg whites for a magical sheen. Red stitching, red buttons, and on a similar tunic, red ants crawling all over it - this fabric is tough like leather (and has the same attitude) - only it is lighter and crisper. The stunning necklace boasts five rings of Chinese silver and comes with a stand so you can enjoy it on your mantle when it’s not around your neck.
The Dragon coat on the bottom right is vintage, made chicer still when we added tulle under the collar for drama. Could it get any more gorgeous?
Embroidery books - every woman owned one - filled with her own origami boxes which unfold within and decorated with her designs which inspire. Inside the hidden pockets have been found pictures of children, remnants of thread, even an umbilical cord. $300
A wonderful horse necklace with dangles to make any simple outfit better. $75
Vintage children’s hats! For fun and festivals/ Each comes with it’s own stand. I have them grouped on my dining table, singular on glass shelves - everywhere they add texture, color, excitement. $75-$495
No, not children’s shoes. These are women’s shoes, far left, worn by one whose feet were broken and bound. A horrific chapter in the treatment of women, but a true one, and the artifact is worth keeping, remembering, even as I put my two strong feet on the ground, with gratitude.
You can shop these pieces here. Or come by the store for a peak behind the bamboo curtain. These won’t be with us much longer. Find yourself a piece of wow. Now.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker