News: World’s Oldest Needle Found in Siberian Cave

Although this news isn’t current (the needle was discovered last summer), it will still be of interest to anyone who didn’t read about the discovery at the time.

The 7 centimetre (2 3/4 inch) needle was made and used by our long extinct Denisovan ancestors, a recently-discovered hominin species or subspecies.

Scientists found the sewing implement – complete with a hole for thread – during the annual summer archaeological dig at a cave in the Altai Mountains widely believed to hold the secrets of human origins. It appears to be still usable after 50,000 years.

Professor Mikhail Shunkov, head of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, said: ‘It is the most unique find of this season, which can even be called sensational. It is a needle made of bone. As of today it is the most ancient needle in the word. It is about 50,000 years old.’

The needle is seen as providing proof that the long-gone Denisovans – named after the cave – were more sophisticated than previously believed. It predates by some 10,000 years an intricate modern-looking piece of polished jewellery made of chlorite by the Denisovans.

To read about the discovery in full, visit the website of the Siberian Times.

Exhibition: Japanese Bamboo Art – The Abbey Collection

Exhibition dates: 13 June 2017 – 4 February 2018

Featuring works of Japanese bamboo art dating from the late nineteenth century to the present the period when basketry in Japan became recognised as an art form that transcends ‘craft’ this loan exhibition showcases more than 80 bamboo baskets and sculptures created by accomplished artists, including all six masters who have received the designation ‘Living National Treasure’. Highlighting key stages in the modern history of Japanese bamboo art, the exhibition is drawn from the Abbey Collection, one of the finest private collections of Japanese baskets and bamboo sculpture; most of the works have never before been presented in public.

More than 70 of these remarkable objects promised gifts to The Metropolitan Museum from long-time New York residents Diane and Arthur Abbey will become part of the museum’s collection, bringing added depth to its already incomparable holdings in Asian art and allowing the museum to tell the modern history of Japanese basketry from the 1880s through the present. Complementing the bamboo works from the Abbey Collection is a lavish selection of hanging scroll and screen paintings and decorative arts, all from The Met’s holdings, that explores the bamboo motif along with related themes such as ikebana (flower arranging) and the tea ceremony.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

Event: Tribal Art London 2017

Event dates: 6 – 9 September 2017

Tribal Art London will mark its tenth year when it opens to the public on 6 September 2017 at the Mall Galleries, London.  Indigenous and tribal art and artefacts, no longer the preserve of museum curators and ethnographers, have emerged as an important element of today’s art market.  In 2007, London gallerist Bryan Reeves brought together several like-minded dealers from the international tribal art scene to create the UK’s first-ever specialist event in this field.  It has grown significantly to become a vibrant fair with 23 participants from the UK, Europe, Africa and the USA.

Tribal Art London is a focal point for art collectors, and has made its mark on the international fair circuit by offering an exciting diversity of works for sale, as well as hosting lectures and talks on many subjects relating to indigenous cultures. Tribal Art London 2017 will have a special focus on the art of tattooing and the organisers are pleased to announce that Martin Poole, a leading traditional tattooist and expert in hand-worked body art, will be present at the fair to give demonstrations of this ancient skill.

New exhibitors in 2017 include Frans Faber (Netherlands) with fine tribal arts from Indonesia, Oceania and Africa; Mark Eglington (New York); John-Paul Raad (London) with art of the Niger River region; and Emmanuel Amelot of Belgium.  They join regulars such as OATG member Joss Graham (London) with traditional textiles, costume, sculpture, ceramics, baskets and jewellery; Sam Handbury-Madin (UK) a young dealer with a fascination for tribal works from every culture; Louis Nierijnck (Netherlands) with tribal art, textiles and adornment from Africa, the Himalayas and Southeast Asia; Marcuson & Hall (Brussels), with a particular interest in fibre works and textiles from Asia and Africa; Raccanello Tribal Art (UK) with Polynesian art, and Charles Vernon-Hunt (UK), specialist in tribal art books.

The UK organisers of Tribal Art London are Adam Prout of Adam Ethnographic Art, with tribal art and artefacts from all regions of the globe, and Bryan Reeves of Tribal Gathering, expert in African tribal art and adornment.

Admission is free.

For more information, visit the Tribal Art London website.

Exhibition: Diligence and Elegance – The Nature of Japanese Textiles

Exhibition dates: 12 July 2017 – 21 January 2018

Diligence and Elegance: The Nature of Japanese Textiles presents over 50 textiles and garments from the Textile Museum of Canada’s collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century artifacts made in Japan for both everyday and occasional use. Luxurious silk and gold fabrics produced in Kyoto’s professional weaving workshops are juxtaposed with domestic indigo-dyed cotton, plant-fibre cloth, and silk kimonos crafted in an astonishing spectrum of time-honoured techniques – weaving, dyeing, hand painting, gold foil application and embroidery – that exemplify venerable social and cultural values. The exhibition focuses on the highly refined skills and materials by which textiles have been constructed and decorated over centuries, and on how diligence and ingenuity have shaped their timeless beauty. The persistence of traditions seen in such rigorously executed textiles has come to embody the heart of Japanese aesthetics. Every material, colour and technique has a story to tell.

Diligence and Elegance features the contemporary work of Hiroko Karuno and Keiko Shintani, two Japanese-Canadians whose consummate craftsmanship and philosophies are profoundly connected to the evolution of Japanese textile traditions of spinning, dyeing and weaving. Their internationally renowned artistic achievements are testimony to the ethics of labour associated with a lifelong investment of time, practice and precision; they position living traditions as opportunities for personal reflection and the acknowledgement of the significance of collective human accomplishments.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Event: Early Textiles Study Group Conference – Precious Cloth & Court Culture AD 400–1600

Event dates: 16–17 September 2017

To see the full programme, visit the conference website (link below). There will be presentations on a wide range of different topics, from ‘Textile furnishings at the English Court 1300–1470 AD’ to ‘Silk as power at the Byzantine court’ to ‘Evidence of precious cloths in the Javanese Singbasari court of King Krtanagara (1258–1292)’ and ‘Transformations of motifs on Ming court robes (14th–16th century)’.

The closing date for bookings is 31 August, so if you’re interested in attending this conference, don’t miss out.

For more information, visit the website of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge.

Event: The Art of Nishiki Weaving in Japan – Preservation and Restoration of Yarn Dyed Textiles, with Amane Tatsumura

Event date: Monday 21 August 2017, 6:45pm

Nishiki-ori brocades are magnificently elaborate and multicoloured figured silk textiles, handwoven on takabata looms, which were introduced to Japan from China over 1,200 years ago. Reflecting the high monetary value of the product, the character for nishiki (錦) is made up of two other characters, 金 meaning gold or money and 帛, meaning silk. The word nishiki has historically been used to describe something of great beauty, in phrases such as ‘nishiki no mihata’ banners flown by imperial troops; ‘kokyo ni nishiki o kazaru’ (lit. decorate the hometown with nishiki brocade) used to describe someone returning home in triumph; and ‘kinshu’ to refer to spectacular autumn leaves (kin is an alternative reading of the character nishiki). However, today nishiki weaving is in real danger, with a lack of skilled craft workers to carry on the tradition.

The Japan Society are delighted to welcome Amane Tatsumura to give the society’s August lecture. Tatsumura, who is actively working to preserve and continue the techniques used in yarn-dyed weaving, will speak about the revival of this tradition. The Tatsumura family has studied the various traditional skills involved in the historic production of woven textiles, such as methods of spinning cocoons and the construction of looms and other equipment, and as far as possible use those techniques in their weaving today. Through these efforts to restore the traditional methods, it has been possible to create employment for craftspeople whose work has been in decline, while preserving techniques and ensuring that these skills are passed on and recorded.

Amane Tatsumura was born in 1974, the oldest son of Koho Tatsumura, one of the leading masters of the art of nishiki weaving in Japan. After graduating from Tokyo Zokei University, he concentrated on the weaving of nishiki brocade, learning how to weave on a takabata loom. Amane Tatsumura has followed in his father’s footsteps in continuing this tradition and has worked to restore the yarn-dyed weaving tradition and promote its growth. He is a special lecturer attached to the Project Faculty of Doshisha University.

This event will be held at:

The Swedenborg Society
20–21 Bloomsbury Way (Hall entrance on Barter Street)
London WC1A 2TH

Places are free, but booking is highly recommended. To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email events@japansociety.org.uk.

For more information, visit the website of the Japan Society, London.

Exhibition: Embroidery from Koto, the East of the Lake  

Exhibition Dates:  5 August – 18 September 2017

Held at the Aisho-cho Museum of Culture and History, Japan.

OATG member Hiroko McDermott writes:

Exhibiting about 15–20 works, this is the first solo show of the works of the Aoki Embroidery in Hikone, an old castle town seated on the east shores of Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture. Some visitors to the Ashmolean exhibition, Threads of Silk and Gold (2012), might still remember its very large and elegant landscape hanging depicting ‘View of Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto’ (pl. 28) and a lively ‘Nikko’ (pl. 29).  As the whereabouts of Aoki was discovered only in the last minutes before the editing deadline of the catalogue, Clare Pollard and I could give only minimal information about this firm.  But the Aoki was very active and important in Japan’s export of embroidered pictures in the 1900s, and still keeps up its operation.  Presently it is led by Mr Tsuneo Aoki, the fourth head since its initiation by Hachiemon Aoki back in the 1890s.

Since 2013, Hiroko McDermott has visited the firm every time she has been back in Japan, and she is very happy to introduce Aoki-san and his works on this occasion.    

This local museum is small, but it is located next to a large ancient temple in a beautiful mountain setting. Anybody who is interested in joining Hiroko at the beginning of September will be very welcome. Also, for more information, just email her at hirokomcd@aol.com.

Open: Wednesday to Sunday, 10–5, and also the national holiday of Monday, 18 September.

For more information, visit the website of the Aisho-cho Museum of Culture and History (website in Japanese), Japan, or contact Hiroko McDermott directly.

Event: Tour of the Exhibition ‘Embroidered Bodies – Garments, Stitches and Stories from the Ashmolean Museum’ with Curator Aimée Payton

Event date: Saturday 15 July 2017

Clothing tells a multitude of human stories, each embroidered stitch contributing to the tale. The exhibition introduces the Ashmolean’s diverse textile collections through a selection of exquisitely crafted garments, expressing themes of personal identity, local tradition and international trade.

The exhibition, curated by the OATG’s chairperson, Aimée Payton, includes a selection of garments drawn from the Eastern and Western textile collections of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Objects on view include a diverse range of garments from hats to shoes, stomachers to collars, dating from as far back as the 1400s right up to the twentieth century.

Location: Broadway Museum & Art Gallery, Tudor House, 65 High Street, Broadway, WR12 7DP.

Time: Meet at 2.30 pm for a 3 pm start.

Cost: Discounted entrance fee £4.

Please bring the money in cash on the day so that we can collect the entrance fee before entering the museum together as a group! We will meet in front of the main entrance.

Advanced registration is essential. Please book your place on the Eventbrite page.

Event: Block Printing Study Day at the Joss Graham Gallery

Event date: Saturday 15 July 2017

John Gillow, well known author and authority on world textiles and Sevanti Roy, textile designer and practitioner, will share their expertise with discussion, demonstrations and practical workshops.

Try your hand at block printing!
10am – 1pm morning session (demonstration and practical workshop with Sevanti Roy)
2pm – 3pm talk by John Gillow
3pm – 6pm afternoon session (demonstration and practical workshop with Sevanti Roy)

Cost £45 per session. All materials supplied.
Places are limited, so booking is essential. Call or email the gallery to book a place (see details below).

JOSS GRAHAM GALLERY
10 Eccleston Street, London, SW1W 9LT
tel: 020 7730 4370
info@jossgraham.com

News: Spring-cleaning India’s Most Magnificent Tent

For those of you who might have missed it, Asian textiles got into the news last month when a royal Rajasthani tent was cleaned for the first time in over three hundred years. A totally unique textile, made in imperial workshops from red silk velvet and gold, unfurled it stands four metres high – as high as a London double-decker bus. It’s known as the Lal Dera, or the Shahi Lal Dera – the Royal Red Tent, and is believed to have been the home of Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal.

To read the article in full, visit the BBC website.