World Shibori Network

Celebrating the visual languages of PEOPLE, COMMUNITY, CULTURE, and ENVIRONMENT through the global practice of resist-dye traditions and innovations, keeping in mind authenticity, reciprocity, and networking.

Yang Ben: From China to Sweden

WSN President Yoshiko I. Wada, currently touring in Sweden, shares an interesting story on the exchange of folk art across the globe.

A yang ben 样本 is a handmade book consisting of folded unit pockets of identical size and compartments. It is one among many  mathematically oriented folk craft items that have almost disappeared from daily life of common people in Asia (especially China).  A yang ben typically has a square shape with the number of unit pockets increasing in a geometric progression of four. The smallest yang ben can consist of just one unit pocket.

Traditionally, these were used to hold embroidery threads and patterns.  The paper used in a yang ben is usually made from natural bast fibers, making it very strong. At times, cloth is added as a decorative element or to provide additional reinforcement.


a yang ben example from Wei Zhang’s collection

At the 9th International Shibori Symposium  held in China last year, WSN invited influential Chinese puzzles and artifact collector Wei Zhang to conduct a workshop on the making of a yang ben. This workshop was  attended by exhibiting Swedish artist, Tomas Robefelt.


Robefelt’s ‘Life’ was exhibited at 9iss, China

Last week in Sweden, Yoshiko happened to meet Tomas Robefelt again and was excited to see his latest work that was inspired by the workshop. She passed this on to Wei Zhang, rekindling the conversation between teacher and student about yang ben, boro and other mingei (people’s) crafts!


Robefelt’s current work with yang ben

About Wei Zhang

Wei Zhang is currently living in Berkeley, California. She and her husband Peter Rasmussen collect and research traditional Chinese puzzles. They have done Chinese puzzle exhibitions in San Francisco and New York City. Wei Zhang also loves traditional Chinese needlework and embroidery. 

About Tomas Robefelt

Tomas Robefelt is both an artist and a designer. He works with collages, paintings, objects, textiles and bags in recycled materials.

Robefelt received his Master of Fine Arts in Design at the School for Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg and his Bachelor’s degree in textile design at the Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås.

In recent years, Robefelt has worked a lot with shibori. He relates very freely to the tradition and tries to find a balance between intention and chance. 

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This entry was posted on 1 December 2015 by and tagged , , , , , .
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