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 shishu.
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
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 ».