Calendar Pages -- Sarasa (Chintz) in Japenese Tradition - A Siam Society Lecture

April 25th, 2015

Sarasa (Chintz) in Japenese Tradition - A Siam Society Lecture

Sarasa (Chintz) in  Japenese Tradition - A Siam Society Lecture0

A talk by Sitthichai Smanchat

Textile is a key to many aspects of Japanese culture and it addresses the history of the people. The subject of ‘Sarasa’ (Chintz) is extremely broad and
requires extensive research. This talk concentrates on ‘Shamu-Sarasa’ (Siamese Chintz) in Japanese tradition.

According to a Thai Royal chronicle, the ‘Indian painted and block-printed textiles of Siamese design’ (Siamese Chintz) although produced in India, were designed by court artists in Siam. They were not only imported to Siam but Siam also contributed them
to Japan and Ryukyu. Siam is called ‘Shamu’ or ‘Shamuro’ in Japanese, so the Siamese chintz items were known as ‘Shamu-Sarasa’. Suzuki Hajime (2004), the Japanese scholar and expert on ‘Shamu- Sarasa’ states that currently Japanese scholars use the
expression ‘Shamu-Sarasa’ to refer to the old imported Siamese chintz. It is distinct from ‘Shamuro-zome’ textile that was produced in Japan as an imitation to ‘Shamu-Sarasa’. The Japanese traditional items made of ‘Shamu-Sarasa’ in museums and private
collection were found in nine categories. All were associated with Japanese tea ceremony such as ‘Fukuro’ or ‘Shifuku’ (case for tea caddy or bowl), ‘Furoshiki’ (wrapping cloth for tea case box), ‘Kubukusa’ (base-cloth for tea caddy or bowl), etc. In Japan, samples of ‘Shamu-Sarasa’ are very rare and considered uniquely valuable.  Furthermore, the ‘Shamu-Sarasa’ in Japanese traditional tea ceremony items reminds us of the rich cultures between Japan and Siam. The aesthetic of ‘Shamu-Sarasa’ also evokes
an exotic appreciation from the Japanese even today.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Sitthichai Smanchat has done his research project on ‘Shamuro-Zome’ in 2004 under supporting of the Japan Foundation. He also conducted his research on ‘Investigation of ‘Shamu-Sarasa’ in Japanese Collections and Textile Evidence in Thailand in 2010. For his education, he graduated from Chulalongkorn University in Art-Education.Later, he was awarded the ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) scholarship for MFA and Ph.D. at Visva Bharati University in 2000-2007. He has done research on the chintz (Indian painted and block-printed textiles) for Siamese market. His survey trips for Chintz cover the Indian sub-continent, Thailand, and Japan. At present, he is a lecturer at Ubon Ratchathani University.

DATE: Saturday, 25 April 2015

TIME: 2:30 p.m.

PLACE: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

For more information, please telephone Khun Arunsri at  (02) 661 6470-3, fax (02) 258 3491, or e-mail:

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