Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textiles as Cultural Expressions: Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 24–27, 2008, Honolulu, Hawaii


Copyright 2008 by the author.


Jiāo-chou (黑絞绸) and Xiang-yun-shā (香雲紗) and are two types of Chinese Canton silk. According to Qing (or Ching) Dynasty documents, Jiāo-chou and Xiang-yun-shā were available as early as the 5th century and these textiles, as well as garments fabricated from them, were exported from Canton as early as the 15th century. Contemporary historians suggested that garments fabricated in Jiāo-chou and Xiang-yun-shā were worn by Chinese in the Honolulu area in the early-20th century. A few of these garments can now be found in the Antique Asian Costume Collection at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UHM). According to the accession notes on the artifacts, the oldest artifact dates to the late Qing Dynasty, placing it well before the year 1906-- the Qing Dynasty ended in 1911. These garments serve as the sample, 15 garment and 2 rolls of fabric of this study. Eleven tunics, a dress, three suits (both tunic and trousers), and two rolls of fabric were examined both in UHM and the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

The terms Jiāo-chou and Xiang-yun-shā were used as both fabric and garment names. One translation of the word Xiang-yun-shā (in Chinese 响云纱 or 香雲纱) is ‘perfumed cloud clothing,’ suggesting that Xiang-yun-shā clothing made people feel like floating clouds. Another translation of Xiang-yun-shā is ‘clothing that makes a noise when the body moves.’ Garments constructed with these fabrics are not only light and airy, but they make a rustling noise when they are worn.