What do hula, henna, bojagi, taiko drumming, and Noh theater all have in common? They are part of the rich heritages that make up Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) and are all coming to a library near you!
APAHM celebrates a diverse panorama of cultures and countries including India, China, Korea, the Philippines, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and more. The official websiteopens a new window has some fascinating information about Asian and Pacific American history and links to art and online galleriesopens a new window that are worth exploration.
Below are just some of the programs you can discover at your local library. A friendly reminder: all library events are free to attend and though some do require signup, many are drop-in and open to everyone!
Asian Pacific American Events at San Mateo County Libraries
Bojagi: The Art of Traditional Korean Textiles
Bojagi is the Korean tradition of woven textile art and has been around for centuries. Bojagi is a versatile art that people in Korea use for both the fine arts and the everyday. Simple patchwork Bojagi can be used to wrap food, gifts, or store family heirlooms while embroidered Bojagi is used for special ceremonies or as wedding gifts, sometimes hung for display in royal houses. Examples of early Bojagi have patterns that many would associate with modern abstract art.
You can join Korean-born artist Youngmin Leeopens a new window as she helps us explore the Bojagi tradition and leads us on a Bojagi project. Youngmin has a master's degree in fashion design and has shared Korean crafts and culture all over the bay area. Find the most conveniently located Bojagi events and let Youngmin Lee guide you in an exploration of Korean textiles.
Hula and Island Dancing
Maybe this sounds strange coming from us, but books aren't the only way to tell a story. Knowledge and cultural memory can be shared through the art of dance, and this is true in many Pacific Island cultures.
Whether through the entrancing movements of the Hawaiian hula or the powerful Māori haka, the islands have used dance as a cultural touchstone for centuries and we want you to experience these inspiring dances firsthand.
Have you been lucky enough to experience the power of a taiko drum performance? Drummers leap in the air and dance as their drumsticks land with rousing intensity and a thunderous percussive series of sonic booms. "Taiko" is the Japanese word for "drum" that the world has come to associate with this transporting display of energy and ancient tradition. If you missed seeing the taiko performances at San Francisco Japantown's recent Cherry Blossom Festival, fret not! Kristy Oshiroopens a new window will show families the meaning behind these ancient instruments and let them make some noise in the library! Find a drumming session for your family to attend!
Japan has cultivated a very special culture of performing arts, famously their Noh plays and unique combinations of music, spoken word, and pantomime to create live experiences that mystify and delight, as well as connect us to an ancient tradition. SMCL can provide an engaging way to learn about these arts firsthand. San Francisco-based Theatre of Yugenopens a new window will give us a hands-on beginner's tour of Japanese dance and teach us to sing the songs, move the moves, and speak the words. Find a workshop at a branch near you!
Create Shadow Puppets
Many of us have used a flashlight and our hands to create shadow animals on our walls. In countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, China, India, and Nepal shadow plays have been used to tell all kinds of stories from religious epics to zany adventure comedies. Multiple generations of talent and artistic skill go into the creation and performance of shadow puppet plays. We want you to get a chance to connect with this art by having you experience creating your very own shadow puppets. We will provide the supplies and the space to help you breathe life into your puppets when you come to our shadow puppet creation programs.
All of these events and more will be happening at libraries all over the county. We'd love to see you stop by, and please share below in the comments any APAHM activities you'd like to see at your library.