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No Sweat

The Honolulu Museum of Art presents an exhibition on the way textiles promoting healthful living in East Asia.

May 19, 2016 10:00am to September 18, 2016 5:00pm

How do people keep cool in hot climates? Clothing is one way, and No Sweat reveals how fiber and material preferences, weave structure, apparel construction and design, color selections, motifs, surface coatings, and sun protection offer relief from the heat in centuries-old traditional and contemporary high-tech textiles.

See how today’s high-performance, synthetic microfiber athletic wear, made for “moisture management,” pays homage to the 19th-century Chinese duijin zhu kanjian, a jacket of interlaced segments of bamboo stalks, worn as an undergarment to create a barrier between the body and any outer robe.

Lightweight cloth, leno or gauze weaves facilitated air circulation for retaining a fresh appearance. Go-kochi-ro, a leno woven silk, was popular in Taisho Period (1912-1926) Japan for use in unlined summer kimono. Motifs and colors had strong metaphorical and cultural connotations, such as the use of water swirls and light blues to impart a cooling effect on the wearer.

Gambiered gauze, from the Guangdong Province of southern China was dyed with natural juices of the shoulang yam (Dioscorea cirrhosa) and later glazed in river mud offering antiseptic merits as well as a faint scent. Before the invention of air conditioners, Japanese used cooling yuton—paper floor mats, treated with kakishibu, persimmon tannin containing anti-bacterial properties that reportedly have the ability to bring down one’s body temperature. No Sweat showcases the significant role that textiles achieve in promoting healthful living.


October 15, 2020 - 4:00pm

Please join the USC U.S.-China Institute for a book talk with author David Lampton. His new book examines China’s effort to create an intercountry railway system connecting China and its seven Southeast Asian neighbors.