Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Swedish textiles…..

The first OATG event of the year was our AGM and Show and Tell, which was a great success. Some superb pieces were shown and a lively discussion ensued.

David Richardson showing a young girl’s zari choli, from Kachchh in Gujarat, which was made over eighty years ago.

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Our next OATG talk will take place this Thursday 26 January at 18:30 GMT. Our speaker is Rachel Peat and her subject is Connecting Threads: Japanese Textiles in the British Royal Collection.

Magnificent textile gifts have been a central ‘thread’ of courtly relations between Britain and Japan for centuries. From rolls of silk given to Queen Victoria in 1860, to an embroidered screen sent as a Coronation gift by the Emperor Meiji in 1902, this lecture will situate Japanese textiles within the broader history of diplomatic exchange. Alongside tapestries and embroideries, attention will be given to loyal addresses backed with silk brocade, long-lost kimono and the silk lacing on a seventeenth-century armour.

​The talk will particularly explore how specific materials and motifs on Japan’s textiles have been used to convey bonds of friendship between the two Courts. Featuring unique photographs and first-hand convey from the Royal Archives, it will also shed light on how members of the British Royal Family enjoyed and displayed these works – from adorning the walls of royal residences, to wearing Japanese garments themselves.

Kawashima Orimono Co. Ltd, Embroidered folding screen with a scene from the Tale of Genji (detail), 1970–71. RCIN 29941. Royal Collection Trust / © King Charles III 2022

Rachel is Assistant Curator of Non-European Works of Art at Royal Collection Trust. Her role encompasses over 13,000 works of art from across the globe, which today furnish 13 current and historic royal residences. She is editor of Japan: Courts and Culture (2020), the first publication dedicated to Japanese material in the Royal Collection, and curator of the exhibition of the same name at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, open until 26 February 2023.

This Zoom talk will be free for OATG members, with a small fee (payable via PayPal) for non-members. Click here for more details and to register.

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On Thursday 2 February 2023 Ruth Clifford has organised a free hybrid symposium on the subject Craft in Fashion. This is a hybrid event, taking place in person (in Liverpool, UK) and online. “The symposium will explore the role of slow craft processes in the global fashion industry, the place and importance of traditional craft skills, and the potential of craft ……. in challenging inequalities in the industry and tackling existing unsustainable practices.” Ruth Clifford

Speakers include Lokesh Ghai, a textile artist, researcher and educator based at UPES University, Dehradun, India; Justine Aldersey-Williams, textile artist and teacher, founder of the North West England Fibreshed and co-founder of the Homegrown Homespun project in Blackburn, Lancashire; Dr Seher Mirza, designer, weaver and postdoctoral researcher currently working on the Decolonising Fashion and Textiles project at London College of Fashion and Swati Bhartia, a fashion and textiles designer who has extensive experience working in craft and handloom development in India.

The session will begin at 16:00 GMT and last for two hours. To register to attend in person please click here. If you want to attend online then please click here instead.

The following week sees the opening of the linked exhibition Craft in Fashion: contemporary examples from rural India, which runs from 6-17 February 2023 at the Liverpool John Moores University.

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The London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair (LARTA) takes place at Battersea Park from 24-29 January 2023.

“The London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair (LARTA) was launched in 2011 and is the UK’s leading annual fair dedicated to the appreciation of antique rug and textile art. Our specialist event brings together quality decorative pieces and interesting collectors’ items presented by some of the UK and Europe’s most dynamic and knowledgeable dealers.

Our aim is to promote this vibrant art form to a wide audience, and offer a tempting array of textiles and weavings for sale. The scope of our interest is broad, and includes weavings from the Far East, Central Asia, Persia, India, Turkey, the Caucasus as well as from Europe and Africa, and from all periods up to the early 20th century. Customers typically include collectors, interior decorators and designers, private buyers and international dealers.

The quality of the exhibitors at LARTA guarantees an event of high artistic significance and cultural merit. Many of our dealers exhibit regularly at important international antiques fairs and specialist symposiums. Several have written expert articles and books, travelled extensively to learn about the material culture and traditions of the weaving regions, and celebrated this extensive subject through exhibitions in their galleries.” LARTA website

A full list of exhibitors can be found here.

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HALI have organised a series of special events in Italy – Florence, Milan, Turin and Genoa – from 5-11 February. These include talks and guided tours of museums and galleries. Registration is required to attend the events. The cost is £75 per person for HALI subscribers, £125 per person for non-HALI-subscribers and £40 per person for students.

©Hali

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On Thursday 9 February 2023 Frances Wood will be giving an online talk on Chinese Illustration and Printmaking in China. She will discuss the “fascinating history of Chinese illustration—from the invention of printing in the 7th century through to the development of the complex sets of woodblock printing we see today.

Early illustrations were mainly of Buddhist subjects but by the 10th century books of all types, from literature to technological manuals, were widely available: expensive editions were beautifully illustrated whilst cheap chapbooks flooded the other end of the market. Colour illustrations and prints appeared from the 12th century, made from complex sets of woodblocks, most notably the ‘New Year’ prints that decorated houses at that auspicious festival.” – Museum website.

Frances has worked for more than 30 years as Curator of the Chinese collections in the British Library. I think that many of these woodcuts may show people in the dress of that time. This talk is one of a series linked to the current exhibition at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath entitled Revolution, Propaganda, Art: Printmaking in Modern China, which runs until 3 June 2023.

For more details and registration for this free online talk, which begins at 18:30 GMT, please click here.

The video below, created several years ago by Francis Gerard and Haiyao Zheng, should hopefully whet your appetite.

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On Saturday 11 February 2023 the New England Rug Society will be hosting an online talk on Swedish textiles. This event is co-sponsored by the TMA/SC and the Textile Museum. This speaker is Gunnar Nilssen and his subject is Northern Delights: Swedish Textiles from 1680 to 1850.

“Certain textile techniques unique to rural communities in Sweden have a long history, and the best pieces stand comparison with the most celebrated traditional textile art elsewhere in Europe, including the best Flemish-weave and röllakan examples. Yet they remain little known outside their locality.  In times past, the peasantry in Skåne, southern Sweden, devised and utilised five different textile techniques about which little has been written in English.  In this program, Collector Gunnar Nilsson lets us into the secrets of munkabälte, dukagång, krabbasnår, upphämta and trensaflossa.” – Press release

This talk takes place at 18:00 GMT (10:00 PT, 13:00 ET), and you can register for it here.

Carriage cushion, röllakan (interlock tapestry), 48 x 121cm, Skytts härad (county) southwestern Skåne, inscribed and dated (in mirror reverse) END-IHS 1780

Korean, Nasca, Japanese, Costa Rican and Anatolian textiles

If you have been missing your regular textile fix during the holidays read on….

The Textile Museum in Washington DC recently held an exhibition entitled Korean Fashion: From Royal Court to Runway. This exhibition featured several textiles which were originally exhibited at the World Fair in Chicago in 1893. After the Fair ended many of the textiles from the Korean pavilion were given to the new Field Museum in Chicago.

The Corea (Korea) Exhibit in the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building. [Image from Bancroft, Hubert Howe The Book of the Fair. The Bancroft Company, 1893.]

The Textile Museum exhibition has now ended, and sadly there are presently no plans for it to travel. However the curator, Lee Talbot, has made this excellent thirty minute video, which gives a great overview of the exhibition, with background information and close-ups of many of the textiles. In it he explains how dress gradually altered through the effects of major socio-economic changes, and the importance of the participation of Korea in the 1893.

An excellent short video guide to the exhibition

The textiles on show range from cushions to wedding dresses, undergarments to children’s clothes with motifs and colours for spiritual protection. A range of simple but striking bugaji wrapping cloths are also on display. Many exhibitions tend to focus on women’s clothing as it is often more colourful, so it was interesting to learn more about the clothing worn by Korean men. Why not settle down with a cuppa and some Christmas cake and enjoy this video!

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The Textile Museum in Washington DC is holding a series of online interviews with authors of articles in the current edition of its journal.

On Wednesday 11 January “contributing scholar Lois Martin will discuss her studies of an exquisite 2,000-year-old early Nasca textile known as the “Brooklyn Museum Textile.” Completely reversible, the textile has a sheer central cloth decorated with warp-wrapped designs and framed by an elaborate, three-dimensional border executed in cross-knit looping. Ninety-two tiny costumed figures parade along the border, marching in four single-file lines. Many believe the Brooklyn Museum Textile may represent approximately one quarter of a year; Martin suggests it could be a 365-day calendar.” – TM website.

Mantle (the Brooklyn Museum Textile) (detail), Nazca, 100-300. Brooklyn Museum, John Thomas Underwood Memorial Fund 38.121. Photo by Justin Kerr.

The timings for this free Zoom event are 12:00 ET, 09:00 PT and 17:00 GMT, and you can register for it here.

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Our next OATG event takes place on the afternoon of Saturday 14 January. We are delighted that this year we will once again be able to hold our AGM in person in Oxford, rather than virtually. Members will soon be receiving full details of how to participate in the Show and Tell session, which will follow the formal proceedings.

David and Sue Richardson showing a nineteenth century export patolu featuring tigers and elephants, formerly owned by the Sukawati Royal family of Ubud in Bali. January 2020 Show and Tell.

This is always a lively event and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone brings and learning the stories about these textiles.

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Also taking place on Saturday 14 January is a Zoom talk hosted by the TMASC and NERS entitled Myth to Art: New perspectives on Anatolian Kilims. The speaker is Ali Rıza Tuna, an independent scholar from Switzerland.

“Anatolian kilims impress at first sight by their colors and the abstract expressivity of their designs, but they also imply more to the mind than what is seen by the eye. What makes a “kilim design” immediately recognizable among other designs? What mental processes create that “style” of motifs? Which characteristics define the kilim’s aesthetics and their agency on the observer? What are the keys to the communication that happens between us and a kilim, despite our ignorance of its symbolic language? What is it about kilims that makes us even project our own myths over their forms?

As a collector and researcher of Anatolian textiles over the last four decades, Ali Rıza Tuna addresses these questions by revisiting some fundamental paradigms used in kilim studies in his recent book From Myth to Art: Anatolian Kilims.” TMASC website.

This free Zoom event takes place at 10:00 PT, 13:00 ET, 18:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

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The next online interview in the Textile Museum series takes place on Wednesday 18 January 2023. Contributing scholars Scott Palumbo and Keilyn Rodríguez Sánchez will take part in a discussion with guest editor Jeffrey C. Splitstoser on the subject of Indigenous Knotted-Cord Records in Costa Rica.

Talamanca census, detail of numbered pendant cords; Bribri, Talamanca region, Costa Rica; 1873-1874. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Museum Support Center NMNH E1543. Donated by William Gabb, 1874.

“Dr. Palumbo and Dr. Sánchez will present evidence for the use of knotted-cord records in southern Costa Rica, an area virtually unknown for its use of knotted-cord record keeping. They will bring an anthropological perspective to their review of ethnohistorical sources and interviews with elders, who describe the structure and mathematical functions of knotted-cord records that were used decades earlier. The authors present this rich ethnographic material, consisting of knotted-cord devices from Costa Rica, and compare it to Andean “khipus” (knotted-cord devices used for record keeping).” TM website

This free Zoom programme takes place at 12:00 ET, 09:00 PT, 17:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

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The London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair (LARTA) takes place at Battersea Park from 24-29 January 2023. A full list of exhibitors can be found here.

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Finally, our next OATG talk will take place on Thursday 26 January at 18:30 GMT. Our speaker is Rachel Peat and her subject is Connecting Threads: Japanese Textiles in the British Royal Collection.

Magnificent textile gifts have been a central ‘thread’ of courtly relations between Britain and Japan for centuries. From rolls of silk given to Queen Victoria in 1860, to an embroidered screen sent as a Coronation gift by the Emperor Meiji in 1902, this lecture will situate Japanese textiles within the broader history of diplomatic exchange. Alongside tapestries and embroideries, attention will be given to loyal addresses backed with silk brocade, long-lost kimono and the silk lacing on a seventeenth-century armour.

​The talk will particularly explore how specific materials and motifs on Japan’s textiles have been used to convey bonds of friendship between the two Courts. Featuring unique photographs and first-hand convey from the Royal Archives, it will also shed light on how members of the British Royal Family enjoyed and displayed these works – from adorning the walls of royal residences, to wearing Japanese garments themselves.

Kawashima Orimono Co. Ltd, Embroidered folding screen with a scene from the Tale of Genji (detail), 1970–71. RCIN 29941. Royal Collection Trust / © King Charles III 2022

Rachel is Assistant Curator of Non-European Works of Art at Royal Collection Trust. Her role encompasses over 13,000 works of art from across the globe, which today furnish 13 current and historic royal residences. She is editor of Japan: Courts and Culture (2020), the first publication dedicated to Japanese material in the Royal Collection, and curator of the exhibition of the same name at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, open until 26 February 2023.

This Zoom talk will be free for OATG members, with a small fee for non-members. Members will shortly receive an Eventbrite invitation and non-members should check our website for an update.

Baluch rugs, Filipino textiles, Indian textile labels and Indonesian batik in manuscripts

On Saturday 10 December 2022 a webinar entitled The Intrigue of Baluch Rugs will be jointly hosted by the TMA/SC, NERS and the Textile Museum. The speaker will be DeWitt Mallary, an independent scholar from Vermont, who has written extensively on this subject.

“The set of rugs bought, sold and collected under the catch-all name “Baluch” actually includes the products of a number of weaving groups in different areas of northeast Iran and northwest Afghanistan.


In addition to certain iconic types, there is an uncommon diversity of idiosyncratic, creative mixing of designs and styles. The most exciting examples of Baluch weaving all use outstanding wool, enabling intensely saturated colors. This virtual presentation led by DeWitt Mallary will look at many of the finest examples of Baluch rugs and bags of various types, and discuss what makes them outstanding, letting the objects demonstrate the intrigue of this group of weavings.” – TMA/SC

This free event takes place at 09:00 PT, which is 17:00 GMT, and you can register for it here.

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Baluch lovers may also be interested in this new book by Thomas Cole, From The Land Of The Sun: The Richard Stewart Collection Of Baluch Rugs, Bags & Trappings. It includes over a hundred colour plates, as well as many previously unpublished photographs from the region.

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A reminder that the Fabricating Fashion exhibition at the Art Institute Chicago ends on 02 January 2023. This exhibition “celebrates the artistry and rich legacy of an extraordinary range of fabrics for clothing around the world……. While a number of techniques showcased in this presentation—such as dyeing, embroidery, printing, and weaving—are practiced globally, other materials and methods are more closely associated with particular cultures: Indian cotton, Chinese silk, French embroidery, West African indigo, among them.” – AIC website

Woman’s Adire Wrapper, mid-20th century, Yoruba

A free virtual lecture will take place on Monday 12 December at 14:00 CST, which is 20:00 GMT. Curators Melinda Watt and Monika Bincsik will discuss the strategies they have used in this exhibition “for exhibiting clothing and textiles to highlight that fashion in locations around the globe shows mutual interrelationships”. You can register for it here.

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I’ve blogged previously about the current exhibition at the Ayala Museum in Manila. Intertwined: Transpacific, Transcultural Philippines closes at the end of this month. Next Saturday 10 December will see the launch via Zoom of the exhibition catalogue. This takes place at 17:00 local time, which is unfortunately 01:00 on the 11th GMT. Register for it here.

“The exhibition and its joint publication open up visual and verbal conversations on the complexities and contradictions of Filipino art and identity. By illuminating the Filipino’s transcultural heritage resulting from pre- and post-colonial maritime exchanges with diverse cultures in Asia, America, and Europe, Filipinos can gain a better understanding of our culture and take pride in the excellence we’ve shown throughout history in the arts, diplomacy, entrepreneurship, and the global economy.” – Ayala Museum

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OATG member Fiona Kerlogue has recently written a guest blog for the British Library on the subject of Batik designs in a Javanese manuscript: Serat Damar Wulan. This particular manuscript illustrates scenes of everyday life in Java in the late eighteenth century. In the blog Dr Kerlogue examines the clothes and textiles depicted in Serat Damar Wulan. This is an extract from her new book on the history of batik, entitled Batik: Traces through time, which is illustrated by collections in the National Museum of the Czech Republic. Many of us enjoyed the talk Fiona gave to the OATG about this collection in September, the recording of which is available to members on our website.

Figure 8. Damar Wulan’s servants in short trousers of striped lurik early in the story. Serat Damar Wulan. British Library, MSS Jav. 89, f. 116v
Figure 9. Now ennobled, Damar Wulan’s servants have adopted superior garments, and have servants of their own wearing lurik. Serat Damar Wulan. British Library, MSS Jav. 89, f. 206r 

“The story [in the manuscript] is particularly significant in relation to costume, partly because of the changes in status which the characters undergo and how these are reflected in the clothes they wear……. The central character, Damar Wulan, is a nobleman but is appointed as stable boy to the ruler of Majapahit, and then imprisoned; eventually he himself becomes king of Majapahit. His changes in status are reflected in the clothes he wears; the clothing worn by other actors in the story also indicates their status.” – Fiona Kerlogue

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Finally advance notice of a book that will definitely be on my list. Russian Textiles: Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia has long been a favourite of mine. Its author, Susan Meller, has been working on a new book, which will be published in February 2023, entitled Labels of Empire, Textile Trademarks: Windows into India in the Time of the Raj. With 1285 illustrations of the labels, most of which are in colour, this is sure to be a visual feast.

©Susan Meller

“In the 1880s, when the British textile industry was at its most prosperous to date, much of the world’s population wore at least some article of clothing made from fabric produced in the mills of Lancashire. From 1910 to 1913 alone, more than 8 billion yards of cloth were woven, cut into prescribed lengths, folded, stamped, labeled, and baled. Most of this output was for export–with 40 percent of it shipped to India.

To differentiate their goods, British textile manufacturers pasted illustrated paper labels known as “shipper’s tickets” to the faceplate of each piece of folded cloth sold into the Indian market. Designed, printed, and registered in Manchester, these appealing chromolithographed images drew attention to the offerings of a particular firm–and much like present-day branding, ensured their ongoing notice within the bustling bazaars of India. “ – Susan Meller

Thanks to Chris Martens for reminding me of the works of this author. Do let me know of events and articles to share with other textile lovers!

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Japanese kimonos, Uzbek and Jain textiles

Apologies to those who missed these blogs – I have been travelling in India for several weeks and just didn’t have the time to blog. Hopefully I can manage a couple before Christmas!

Filling shuttles at a rural weaving village in Bihar State

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A new exhibition opened yesterday at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles. Visualizing Devotion: Jain Embroidered Shrine Hangings runs until 26 March 2023 and features devotional textiles from the collection of Ronald and Maxine Linde. These cloths are known as chhoda and tend to be of velvet or sateen, heavily embroidered with religious themes using gold or silver thread.

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Textile lovers able to visit Paris in the next few months are in for a real treat!

Tuesday 22 November 2022 sees the opening of the Kimono exhibition at the Musée du quai Branly. This exhibition of nearly 200 kimonos was designed by the V&A in London, and will run until 28 May 2023.

“At the beginning of the Edo era (1603-1868), it became the traditional garment par excellence, worn by all Japanese, regardless of social status or gender. A golden age that saw the extraordinary development of its production and the birh of a fashion culture, thanks to the infatuation of the entertainment world. Celebrities and trendsetters of the time – kabuki actors in particular – became the first Japanese fashion icons.

Although it timidly reached European shores at the end of the 17th century, it was in the 1850s, with the opening of Japan to foreign trade, that the kimono was exported to the West, fascinated by its exotic character. The enthusiasm generated by its shape and fabrics profoundly and radically transformed fashion on the continent a few decades later. ” – museum website

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On Wednesday 23 November the Louvre is host to The Splendours of Uzbekistan’s Oases, which runs until 6 March 2023. It has been jointly organised with the Art and Culture Development Foundation of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

“A large selection of these masterworks will leave Uzbekistan for the first time and undergo special conservation treatment for the exhibition, including monumental wall paintings from the Ambassadors’ Hall in Samarkand and its surroundings, the pages of one of the oldest monumental Korans from the early days of Islam from Katta Langar, in Sogdiana, and other treasures in gold from Bactria (Dalverzin Tepe), silver, silk, and fine ceramics. The exhibition also showcases several masterpieces from the famous 16th-century miniature paintings of the School of Bukhara.” – museum website

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The same day sees the opening of another exhibition dedicated to Uzbekistan, this time at the Arab World Institute. On the roads of Samarkand: Wonders of silk and gold has also been organised with the help of the same Foundation and will run until 4 June 2023.

“Sumptuous chapan coats and gold-embroidered accessories from the Emir’s court, painted wooden saddles, silver horse harnesses set with turquoises, precious Suzanis embroidered hangings, carpets, silk ikats, jewellery and costumes from the nomadic culture as well as about fifteen orientalist paintiings” will all be on display.


Chapan, 1900-1904, Bukhara. Tashkent, State museum of arts of Uzbekistan (© The Foundation for the development of art and culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan © Laziz Hamani

Textile news

On Saturday 15 October OATG member Louise Shelley will give a webinar hosted by the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California. Her subject is The Dark Side of the Textile Trade: From the Silk Road to Today.

“Throughout history, textiles have always been one of the most valued components of international trade. Therefore, both individuals and states have sought to profit from this trade in both illegal and immoral ways.  The problem of counterfeit products is not new, but was already an issue centuries ago, when British traders flooded the Venetian market with their products labelled “Made in Venice.”  When cochineal was the most valuable product out of the New World, many pirates and traders sought to acquire cochineal and break the Spanish monopoly.  Dr. Shelley will reveal a largely unknown story of crime and often state-sponsored criminal trade.  Her survey of illicit trade will discuss the abuses of the textile trade for both commercial and political objectives.”

The webinar starts at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST, and you can sign up for it here.

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I recently enjoyed an article, written by Kosuke Ide, with photos by Keisuke Fukamizu, which appeared in Subsequence online magazine. It focusses on the Iwatate Folk Textile Museum in Tokyo, and its owner Hiroko Iwatate, who has been collecting textiles for over fifty years and holds three exhibitions each year.

A display at the Iwatate Folk Museum

You can read this beautifully illustrated article here – but be aware it takes a little while to load.

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OATG members Chris Buckley ,Sandra Sardjono and Sarah Fee have all been involved in the production of a new UNESCO book entitled Textiles and Clothing along the Silk Roads. Chris has written a chapter on drawlooms, Sandra on the maritime circulation of textiles in southeast Asia and Sarah on sub-Saharan Africa and global textile exchanges.

This book looks like required reading for all textile enthusiasts and can be viewed and downloaded free of charge through this link.

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The team who run the very successful World Textile Day events around the UK had planned a World Textiles Market last month, but had to postpone it due to the death of Queen Elizabeth. It will now take place on Saturday 29 October at Chipping Norton Town Hall in Oxfordshire. Full details can be found here.

Evenki, Malay, Indian, Indonesian and Afghan textile-related events

A new display has recently been created at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. The subject is Wandering in Other Worlds: Evenki Cosmology and Shamanic Traditions. Through the use of virtual reality headsets, visitors are able to learn more about this “diverse cultural group living across Northern and Central Asia. They are primarily reindeer-herding and hunting people, although in the steppes, Evenki took up horse herding, while in the Arctic, fishing became an important occupation.

Photograph of an Evenki shaman with diur (drum), taken by Maria Czaplicka, 1914-1915

“In 2019, artist Anya Gleizer, researcher Pablo Fernandez Velasco and anthropologist Jaanika Vider journeyed to Evenkia in the Siberian Arctic, retracing the route of an expedition led by anthropologist Maria Czaplicka in 1914–15. Using a VR headset and digital versions of the Museum’s collections, the team hoped to learn more about the objects Czaplicka had brought to Oxford a century before. Swiping through photographs on an iPad and visiting Oxford via the VR headset, locals in Chirinda and Tura shared their stories with them.” Pitt Rivers website

I’m glad to learn this display will be in place until September 2023, as it gives me the chance to read Undreamed Shores – The hidden heroines of British anthropology by Frances Larson, which features the life and work of Maria Czaplicka among others. See this earlier blog for more details.

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OATG members will be delighted to learn that three more talks have been added to the password-protected Members Resources section of our website. This can be found under Events. New members (from the UK and further afield) are always welcome to join this small but growing group of textile enthusiasts. Click here to find out more.

Recordings of these three lectures are now available for OATG members in the Member’s Resources section of our website.

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Thanks go to Sandra Sardjono for alerting me to this webinar, taking place on Thursday 6 October, which has an interesting line-up of speakers. The topic is Safeguarding Textile Heritage and it begins at 19:30 Indian Standard Time, which is 15:00 BST. Click here for more details and to register.

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Lovers of Indonesian textiles who are able to visit Switzerland next month are in for a treat. Collector Georges Breguet, who has written recently for our Asian Textiles journal, is exhibiting some of his cloths from the island of Sumba at Vésenaz near Geneva.

The exhibition will open on Saturday 8 October and close on Sunday 23 October – just a short run so don’t delay.

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Also taking place on 8 October is World Textile Day – South of England. The venue is Brockenhurst Hall in Hampshire and as usual there will be an exciting selection of textiles for sale from a variety of different traders.

John and Joan Fisher of Khayamiya with some of their Egyptian wall hangings.

Entrance is free, but there is a small charge should you wish to attend any of the talks – highly recommended. Click here for further details.

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Saturday 8 October is proving to be a very busy day! The New England Rug Society will host a Zoom talk by Luca Emilio Brancati on the subject of Afghan War Rugs 1979-2022. He will examine how these rugs have developed from the Russian period until now. Dr Brancati is the co-author of this book on the subject, and in 1988 organised the first exhibition of Afghan war rugs .

“The Afghan carpets from Luca Emilio Brancati ‘s Turin collection have the particularity of portraying in their decorations the instruments of war common in Afghanistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion. These rare and extraordinary “textile documents” testify to the vitality of the culture of carpet in Afghanistan and the ability of the local nomadic and village manufacturing, capable of capturing new suggestions for carpet decoration from the environment in which it lives.

The Turin collection on the carpets of the Russo-Afghan war was the first of its kind to be exhibited for the first time thirty years ago in Milan and is the only one consisting of carpets exclusively made before the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan.”

Photo ©La Repubblica. From an exhibition held at the Palazzo Lascaris in Turin.

The talk begins at 13:00 ET, which is 18:00 BST, and you can register for it here.

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On Sunday 9 October John Ang will be giving a Zoom talk for the International Hajji Baba Society on Splendors of Malay World Textiles – the subject of his current exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. The exhibition has seven hundred textiles, divided into twelve major categories, plus textiles from other countries, which relate to these Malay examples.

John with a display of some of his textiles

This article from Malay Mail gives a further insight into John and his collection. The talk takes place at 17:00 EDT, which is 22:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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This Sunday is also the date of the annual Textile Society London Antique and Vintage Textile Fair.

“The Textile Society London Antique Textile Fair offers an outstanding range of vintage fashion, antique textiles and costume sourced from around the world. Textiles from the 18th century up to the swinging 1960s and 70s, furnishings including pre-1950s rugs, and unique fashion accessories can be found here. Visitors can explore the fair for secondhand books, ephemera and advice on textile conservation.

Whether a textile designer or student looking for design inspiration, a collector looking for a unique addition, or just a visitor wanting to browse beautiful materials and objects, this fair cannot be missed.” Textile Society website.

A selection of textiles that will be available from Slow Loris. ©Martin Conlan

The location is Chelsea Old Town Hall on the Kings Road SW3 5EZ. The Fair is open to the general public from noon, but early entry from 10:00 is available to Trade, Early Bird ticket holders and Textile Society members. Click here for more details.

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Textile events and articles featuring Indonesia, the Philippines, Kazakhstan and Ukraine

The next OATG talk takes place this Thursday, 29 September 2022, so you don’t have long left to register for it!

The speaker is Fiona Kerlogue, who was a lecturer at the University of Jambi in Sumatra and later Deputy Keeper of Anthropology at the Horniman Museum. She is now a Research Associate at SOAS, has published widely on the arts of Southeast Asia . This is sure to be a fascinating talk by an acknowledged expert in her field. Her subject for this particular talk is Translating textiles: The Indonesian collections of Josef Šrogl.

Náprstek Museum collection

“Museum collections in Europe contain large numbers of textiles brought back from various parts of Asia by travellers and European overseas residents, who collected them in a variety of circumstances, not often recorded in the museum documentation. Family correspondence held in the Náprstek Museum, [National Museum], Prague, from one such collector, Josef Srogl, who was collecting in the Dutch East Indies between 1895 and 1922, was passed to the museum at the same time as much of his collection, providing insights into the journey through which the textiles passed. Many of the perspectives of the collector, information about the available sources, insights into his criteria for selection and his thoughts about the intended uses for the textiles are revealed.” This Zoom talk will take place on Thursday 29 September at 18:30 BST.

It is free for OATG members, but there is a small charge for non-members. You can find more details and register for it here.

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The next World Textile Day event is this Saturday 1 October at Saltford near Bristol. Entry to the exhibition and sale is free, but there is a small charge for attendance at the talks – two on sashiko and one on textile trappings.

These events are always very busy, so you are advised to get there early! Full details of the location and facilities, plus a list of vendors can be found here.

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I really enjoyed reading this beautifully illustrated article by Gino Gonzales from the autumn edition of Arts of Asia. The author, Gino Gonzales, “traces the nuanced evolution of the country’s dress and explores how this reflects the psyche of its people”. The full version of The Philippine Dress: 500 years of Straddling Polarities is now available to read here.

Una Mestiza de Manila Vestida de Gala, after Damian Domingo, circa 1820s–1830s, gouache on pith paper, 22.6 x 15.6 cm. Ayala Museum Collection. Arts of Asia

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Many of our members have really missed getting together in person. Next Thursday, 6 October, we have our chance with the long-awaited talk by Maria Wronska-Friend (originally scheduled for April 2020). Maria is currently based in Australia, and we are delighted to be welcoming her to Oxford for this in-person talk. Her subject is Kimono and Sarong: Four centuries of Japanese and Indonesian textile connections.

“The exchange of textiles between Japan and Indonesia was initiated probably in the 17th century by the Dutch traders who, until 1868, had a monopoly in the trade with Japan. As the trade goods used to be dispatched from the ports of Java, at times textiles destined for Indonesian markets were sent to Japan where they became highly treasured goods, incorporated into local dress or used in the tea ceremony. At the same time, at least from the beginning of the 19th century, residents of Java highly treasured Japanese katagami fabrics brought to Batavia as a return cargo from Nagasaki.”

Hand-drawn batik on silk made in 2018 in Yogyakarta, Central Java, for the Japanese market. Private collection

The location for this talk, which begins at 18:30 BST, is the Pauling Centre on Banbury Road, Oxford. It is free for OATG members, but there is a small charge for non-members. You can find more details and register for it here.

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Lovers of Indonesian textiles who are able to visit Switzerland next month are in for a treat. Collector Georges Breguet, who has written recently for our Asian Textiles journal, is exhibiting some of his cloths from the island of Sumba at Vésenaz near Geneva.

The exhibition will open on Saturday 8 October and close on Sunday 23 October – just a short run so don’t delay.

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Also taking place on 8 October is World Textile Day – South of England. The venue is Brockenhurst Hall in Hampshire and as usual there will be an exciting selection of textiles for sale from a variety of different traders.

John and Joan Fisher of Khayamiya with some of their Egyptian wall hangings.

Entrance is free, but there is a small charge should you wish to attend any of the talks – highly recommended. Click here for further details.

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Finally, another article which I recently read and enjoyed. In this issue of Voices On Central Asia the author, Snezhanna Atanova interviews Ukrainian archaeologist Tatiana Krupa, about What Can Golden Horde Fabrics Tell Us About Histories Of Kazakhstan And Ukraine?

Silk textile with Byzantine embroidery from excavations of the 12th-century Polovtsian burial mound Vesela Grave (Kharkiv region, Ukraine) © Tatiana Krupa

Upcoming fairs and talks

Tribal Art London – London’s leading Ethnographic Fair – opened today. Over twenty exhibitors are taking part, including OATG members Cordelia Donohoe and Joss Graham. The venue is the Mall Galleries near St James’s Park and tickets are free.

A vibrant nineteenth century Tashkent Paliak suzani

It was supposed to run until 18 September, but will now close at 17:00 on 17 September due to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Click here for more details.

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A reminder of a hybrid talk, which will take place in person in Oxford, as well as on Zoom. On Wednesday 21 September anthropologist and author Frances Larson will talk about her book Undreamed Shores: The Hidden Heroines of British Anthropology.

“In the opening two decades of the twentieth century, at a time when women were barely recognized at the University of Oxford, five women trained at the Pitt Rivers Museum and became Britain’s first professional female anthropologists. Between them, they did pioneering research in Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Siberia, Egypt, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and the pueblos of southwest America. Through their work they challenged the myths that constrained their lives. Yet when they returned to England, they found loss, madness and regret waiting for them.” – PRM website

The talk begins at 18:00 BST and you can register for either the in-person event or an online ticket here.

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The speaker for our next OATG talk is Fiona Kerlogue and her subject is Translating textiles: The Indonesian collections of Josef Šrogl.

“Museum collections in Europe contain large numbers of textiles brought back from various parts of Asia by travellers and European overseas residents, who collected them in a variety of circumstances, not often recorded in the museum documentation. Family correspondence held in the Náprstek Museum, [National Museum], Prague, from one such collector, Josef Srogl, who was collecting in the Dutch East Indies between 1895 and 1922, was passed to the museum at the same time as much of his collection, providing insights into the journey through which the textiles passed. Many of the perspectives of the collector, information about the available sources, insights into his criteria for selection and his thoughts about the intended uses for the textiles are revealed.”

Náprstek Museum collection

This Zoom talk will take place on Thursday 29 September at 18:30 BST. It is free for OATG members and there is a small charge for non-members. You can find more details and register for it here.

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The next World Textile Day event is on Saturday 1 October at Saltford near Bristol. Entry to the exhibition and sale is free, but there is a small charge for attendance at the talks – two on sashiko and one on textile trappings.

These events are always very busy, so you are advised to get there early! Full details of the location and facilities, plus a list of vendors can be found here.

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On Thursday 6 October we have the long-awaited talk by Maria Wronska-Friend, which was originally scheduled for April 2020. Maria is currently based in Australia, and we are delighted to be welcoming her to Oxford for this in-person talk. Her subject is Kimono and Sarong: Four centuries of Japanese and Indonesian textile connections.

“The exchange of textiles between Japan and Indonesia was initiated probably in the 17th century by the Dutch traders who, until 1868, had a monopoly in the trade with Japan. As the trade goods used to be dispatched from the ports of Java, at times textiles destined for Indonesian markets were sent to Japan where they became highly treasured goods, incorporated into local dress or used in the tea ceremony. At the same time, at least from the beginning of the 19th century, residents of Java highly treasured Japanese katagami fabrics brought to Batavia as a return cargo from Nagasaki.”

Hand-drawn batik on silk made in 2018 in Yogyakarta, Central Java, for the Japanese market. Private collection

The location for this talk, which begins at 18:30 BST, is the Pauling Centre on Banbury Road, Oxford. It is free for OATG members and there is a small charge for non-members. You can find more details and register for it here.

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Female anthropologists, textiles and carpets from India, Indonesia and Persia, an exciting textile fair and curating opportunity…..

On Saturday 10 September experts from the World Textile Day team will descend on The Guild Hall in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, for a one day pop up textile bazaar. They will bring with them a range of amazing textiles for sale from around the globe. They will also be happy to look at any textiles or pieces of costume you bring in to help identify what it is and where it comes from – they may even offer to buy it!

Experts confirmed are:

  • Martin Conlan of Slow Loris Textiles – an absolute authority on the minority textiles of southwestern China with stunning indigos, embroideries and fabulous costume pieces.
  • Susan Briscoe well-known author, teacher and expert in Japanese textiles.
  • Tanya Byrne of The Running Stitches with beautiful kantha work scarves, throws and quilts from northern India.
  • John and Joan Fisher with a stunning collection of applique and quilting from Egypt.
  • Diane and Jim Gaffney of Textile Traders with their 40 years of experience in south east Asian textiles – particularly in the batik and ikat of Indonesia and the indigo and natural dyes of Northern Thailand.
  • Magie Relph and Bob Irwin of The African Fabric Shop with an amazing array of West African wax print plus textiles from the traditions of all the corners of the Continent.

Entry is free and the event runs from 10 am to 4 pm. More details here.

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On Saturday 17 September batik expert Sabine Bolk will give a talk at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore on Developments in Batik history in the 19th century, imitations, and other influences from abroad. This is in conjunction with the current exhibition Batik Kita: Dressing in Port Cities.

Detail from a batik Belanda (Dutch batik) inspired by images seen in European fairy tales and magazines. “Slamet Pake” is urban slang of “Selamat Pakai”, meaning “enjoy wearing”. Kain panjang (detail). Central Java, Pekalongan, 1920s. Batik tulis. Cotton, synthetic dyes. ACM, T-0811.

Please note this is an in person event and is not available online.

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Also taking place on 17 September is an online talk as part of the Textile Museum’s Rug and Textile Appreciation sessions. The subject this time is Carpet Masters of Persia, and the speaker is Hadi Maktabi, the author of The Persian Carpet: The Forgotten Years, 1722-1872.

He will present “a detailed overview of the urban workshop tradition in Persia from the Timurid era to the 20th-century revival. This virtual lecture will cover all major weaving centres and explore the distinct characteristics of workshop structure and organization in each”.  – TM website

Detail of a wool carpet made in Isfahan by the workshop of Agha Ahmad Ajami circa 1900, depicting an ancient Persian queen called Pourandokht.

This free talk begins at 11:00 EDT, which is 16:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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Now to a hybrid talk, which will take place in person in Oxford, as well as on Zoom. On Wednesday 21 September anthropologist and author Frances Larson will talk about her book Undreamed Shores: The Hidden Heroines of British Anthropology.

“In the opening two decades of the twentieth century, at a time when women were barely recognized at the University of Oxford, five women trained at the Pitt Rivers Museum and became Britain’s first professional female anthropologists. Between them, they did pioneering research in Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Siberia, Egypt, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and the pueblos of southwest America. Through their work they challenged the myths that constrained their lives. Yet when they returned to England, they found loss, madness and regret waiting for them.” – PRM website

Maria Czaplicka, author of Aboriginal Siberia: a study in social anthropology. © Pitt Rivers

The talk begins at 18:00 BST and you can register for either the in-person event or an online ticket here.

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Also taking place on 21 September, but this time in Canberra, Australia, is a talk by Toolika Gupta, the Director of the Indian Institute of Craft and Design. Her subject is Sherwani: The influence of British rule on elite Indian menswear.

She will explore “the history of Indian menswear fashion by looking at the changing trends— clothing preferences, popular garments, and style—during the British rule. She traces Indian menswear from the 17th century to the early decades of the 21st century narrating how the flowing jamas and angrakhas of the earlier era changed to the achkan which was followed by a more tailored sherwani during the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries.”

Painting of last Nizam of Hyderabad accompanied by men some of whom are sporting sherwanis. Source: Wikipedia

This talk takes place by Zoom at 18:00 local time, which is 09:00 BST and 13:30 in Jaipur. More information and a link to registration can be found here.

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On Saturday 24 September the San Diego Museum of Art will host an online talk by Sylvia Houghteling, Assistant Professor of the History of Art at Bryn Mawr College. Her first book, The Art of Cloth in Mughal India, was published earlier this year. The subject of this particular talk is Cultures of Cloth in Mughal South Asia.

“In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a vast array of textiles circulated throughout South Asia in the lands ruled by the Mughal Empire. Made from rare fibers and crafted using virtuosic techniques, these exquisite objects animated early modern experience, from the intimate, sensory pleasure of garments to the monumentality of imperial tents. This lecture tells stories of how textiles crafted and collected across South Asia participated in political negotiations, fostered social conversations, and conveyed personal feeling across the breadth of the Mughal Empire.” – museum website

Persian courtier (detail), ca. 1615. Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper. Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, 1990.457.

You can find out more about this lecture, for which there is a small charge, and register for it here. It begins at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST.

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Some rug and textile groups have really come into their own during the pandemic. One of these is the New England Rug Society (NERS), who have an excellent programme of online talks, and a newsletter called View from the Fringe.

On Saturday 24 September Walter Denny, author of How to Read Islamic Carpets, will give a webinar entitled What the Hell Is That? – Encountering Unknown Carpets in Private and Museum Collections and the Marketplace.

“One of the pleasures—and frustrations—of studying and enjoying carpets is encountering the unexpected or the unknown. Yesterday’s close encounters with alien carpets have often morphed into today’s basic knowledge. In this illustrated lecture, Walter Denny will discuss his experiences with “wild cards” that have continued to appear, with disconcerting frequency, during his fifty-six years of studying, photographing, and analyzing carpets in private collections, museum collections, and the marketplace.” – NERS newsletter

Kilim fragment © Walter Denny

The webinar begins at 13:00 ET, which is 18:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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I was contacted recently by Jill Winder, Associate Curator (Decorative Arts & Artefacts) at the University of Leeds – the home of the International Textile Collection. They are looking to recruit a Project Collections Officer to catalogue a significant collection of Indonesian textiles.

Double ikat from Bali. Coleman Collection

This collection was previously loaned to them by a member of the OATG. Closing date for applications is 23 September 2022 and you can find out more about it here.

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Selected textile talks and exhibitions

Some OATG members have certainly had a busy summer! Speakers in this video of an event hosted by the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, include our founder Ruth Barnes (now at Yale University Art Gallery) and Sandra Sardjono of Tracing Patterns Foundation. They talk about textiles from Indonesia and the Philippines, but the themes they cover are relevant to many more areas.

“Colonialism, changing customs, war, and contemporary collecting practices have all impacted the use and meaning of textiles in Southeast Asia. In this online Re-History Series discussion, a panel of experts explores themes of loss, destruction, and conservation during colonial periods as well as the present day. They will discuss efforts to center the makers’ voices and recover from losses through research, conservation, and collaboration.” – Museum website

Sandra, along with her husband Chris Buckley, has been working on some exciting projects within the Tracing Patterns Foundation and I hope to share more on that work in the near future.

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Our Membership Secretary, David Richardson, is another OATG member who has been busy researching and writing – this time for an article which has just been published in Textiles Asia. The beautifully illustrated article discusses a collection of heirloom textiles from the Indonesian island of Solor, thus linking nicely to one of the subjects talked about by Ruth Barnes in the video above.

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A new exhibition opened last week at the Deutsches Textilmuseum (DTM) in Krefeld. Peru – ein Katzensprung (stone’s throw) celebrates the museum’s important collection of pre-Columbian textiles and runs until 23 April 2023. This is the first major exhibition of Peruvian textiles at the museum since 1959. An impressive 292 textiles are on display – the vast majority of which are from the DTM collection.

In the past pre-Columbian textiles were not bought for the collection from a cultural-historical point of view, but instead because of their motifs and the variety of techniques used. This is discussed in an interesting illustrated paper by Katalin Nagy for the Pre-Columbian Textiles Conference held in 2019. Click here to read The pre-Columbian textile collection of the German Textile Museum Krefeld.

Shirt, uncu, from the Huari Culture (8 – 10 century AD). Dyed camelid hair weft on cotton warp, tapestry weave. © Deutsches Textilmuseum

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This Thursday, 1 September, sees the opening of an exhibition at the California Museum, Sacramento, entitled Between 2 Worlds: Untold Stories of Refugees From Laos. This is a travelling exhibition that was developed by the Center for Lao Studies.

It ” presents crucial stages of the Lao refugee experience, inviting visitors to contemplate ideas of ‘home’ as seen through the eyes of people for whom the notion is precarious, and for those who have lived or are still living between two worlds.” – Museum website

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On Saturday, 3 September 2022, the World Textile Day team will be in Llanidloes, Wales. As usual there will be an eclectic mix of textiles on sale from an interesting group of dealers. This is in addition to the regular programme of talks. Entry to the event is free, with a small charge being made for the optional talks.

Full details can be found here.

Photo from a previous WTD Wales event.

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I seem to be reading more and more about textiles from the Philippines at the moment. This online event hosted by the Ayala Museum in Manila caught my attention. Intertwined Conversations: Transoceanic Journey of Luxury Goods is a conversation between Elena Phipps and Sandra Castro, moderated by Florina Capistrano-Baker. Elena will discuss how luxury goods such as silk, piña and chintz arrived in the Americas via the Manila Galleon trade and the impact these textiles had. Sandra will look at how traditional Philippine materials were used to make souvenirs in the form of Western material culture.

The timing of this event doesn’t work for our UK members (unless you are a real night owl and want to watch it at 2am), but hopefully does for some of our international members – 9 September at 21:00 EST, 18:00 PST, which is 10 September 09:00 in Manila.

For more details and registration click here.

By coincidence the new edition of Arts of Asia focuses on the Philippines, with articles including The Philippine Dress: 500 years of Straddling Polarities and Unfolding a Collection of Indigenous Philippine Textiles.

Cover of Arts of Asia

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The Textile Museum Associates of Southern California hold their next programme in early September. The subject of the webinar is Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, and the speaker is Anna Jackson, Keeper of Asian Art at the V&A in London.

“The kimono is an iconic garment. A symbol of Japanese national culture and sensibility, it is generally perceived as a traditional, timeless costume. This talk counters that conception, revealing that the kimono has always been a highly dynamic, fashionable garment. It will explore the social and sartorial significance of the kimono in historical and contemporary contexts both in Japan and in the rest of the world, where its impact on dress styles has been felt since the seventeenth century.” TMA/SC

There will be two Zoom sessions, to accommodate participants from different time zones. The talk will be the same in each case, so please only sign up for one! The first is intended for the Western Hemisphere to India and takes place on Saturday 10 September at 10:00 PDT, 13:00 EDT, 18:00 BST. The registration link can be found here.

The talk will be held again on Sunday 11 September and this is intended for those in the East – 09:00 BST, 15:00 Bangkok, 17:00 Tokyo and 18:00 Sydney. The registration link to this talk can be found here.

Left: Outer kimono for a courtesan (uchikake), 1860- 70 (©Victoria and Albert Museum) 
Right: Kimono ensemble by Hiroko Takahashi, 2009 (©Hiroko Takahashi)

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