Lecturer on Japanese Cloth Military Souvenirs Comes to Florida Tech Oct. 16

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Florida Institute of Technology will host private collector Dr. Michael Bortner as part of the Friends of Textiles Lecture Series Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Denius Student Center’s Hartley Room on campus. The lecture will be preceded by a reception at 5:15 p.m.

Bortner has been a collector of Japanese military textiles for over 40 years and is the author of Imperial Japanese Good Luck Flags and One-Thousand Stitch Belts (2008); this is the first book in English dedicated to the subject.

Bortner will discuss his private collection and research of Japanese “good luck” flags and “one-thousand” stitch belts. These unique items reflect folk beliefs applied to an emergent modern military world view.

According to informal polls, the second most popular souvenir item brought back by American service personnel of the WWII era was a Japanese character signed flag. Known as hinomaru yosegaki, a “good luck flag” was a personal, one-of-a kind item given to a departing soldier by his family, friends and coworkers. They contained the names, personal messages, exultations, poems, artwork, battle maps and even blood from those people wishing him well into battle.

or “one-thousand stitch belts” as they are known today probably developed over hundreds of years and are based upon the Asian principle of “ki” or abdomen-centered life force. Over time, the cloth senninbari evolved into an amulet of protection that was believed to protect the wearer from harm in battle.

Works from Bortner’s extensive private collection are currently featured in the exhibit Battle Worn: Masculine Ideals and Military Identity in Modern Japanese Textiles, currently on view at the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts through Dec. 15.

The cost for the lecture is $10 for the general public; it is free to Friends of Textiles members and full-time students with ID. For more information, visit http://textiles.fit.edu or contact the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts at (321) 674-8313.

Image courtesy of Imperial Japanese Good Luck Flags and One-Thousand Stitch Belts by Dr. Michael Bortner, 2008.

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