DESCRIPTION : In the 1930s
Ima Shinoda began teaching groups of predominantly nisei women in and
around Hilo the centuries-old art of japanese embroidery known as
The Shishu ladies of Hilo
is in part a loving tribute to Ima and Yoshio Shinoda, written by their
daughter, Shiho Shinoda Nunes, and granddaughter Sara Nunes-Atabaki.
But what began as a family history and catalog of Yoshio Shinoda's
shishu designs evolved into a carefully documented and illustrated
account of the stitching community created by the Shinodas and their
pupils on the Big Island from the mid 1930s to the late 1960s.
This book traces the teaching
of shishu in Hawai'i and describes in detail the modifications made to
traditional motifs and materials. It is, however, much more than a
historical record of a textile art form. It raises questions about the
relationship between these women, their ethnicity, and their needlework
— in short, the role of art in achieving ethnic identity.
From interviews with dozen of
former students and other teachers of shishu, the authors collected
stories of childhood, friendship, and family together with those of
learning and creating shishu. Women generously shared their knowledge
and memories as well as their art, taking decorative pieces from their
walls, cushions and runners from their furniture, aloha shirts and
mu'umumu'us from their closets.
In The Shishu ladies
of Hilo we are given a rare glimpse of ordinary people making
everyday domestic textiles that imbue their daily lives with the
richness of their cultural past. As Sara Nunes-Atabaki
writes : « All these threads, and more, we
have gathered and woven into the fabric of our book. I see the work of
my grandparents and the women making colorful patterns against the
strong holding threads of tradition, and this book as a way of
preserving their stories and celebrating their achievement with needle,
thread, and cloth ».