Russian and Palestinian embroidery, Korean textiles, Central Asian patchwork, Soviet Kazakh women and World Textile Day North.

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The Russian History Museum recently held a free online lecture, which I found out about too late to include in my previous blog. Please note that when this happens I do provide links on our Facebook page, so I would encourage all members to check that out too.

Pictures in Thread: Late Imperial Russia and Needlework was presented by Dr Andrea Rusnock. Luckily the event was recorded so you can now watch it at your leisure.

“Needlework played a key role in nineteenth century Russian culture and art across all social classes, from the peasantry to the urban elite. Women plied their needles to create and embellish household articles, personal items, and interior décor. In addition to the actual objects themselves there was a plethora of publications relating to needlework produced at the end of the Imperial period.” – Museum website

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Also on the subject of embroidery – I posted about this on Facebook last week and it was so popular I thought I ought to share it here too. This 68 page book is available as a free download in English or Arabic from the GWU & Textile Museum website. Simply click on this link, then on the PDF.

Front cover of the book

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This Saturday, 20 August 2022, sees the opening of an exciting new exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington DC. Korean Fashion: From Royal Court to Runway examines 125 years of Korean costume and fashion and lasts until 22 December.

“After centuries of relative isolation, Korea opened its borders to international trade and diplomacy in 1876, but for years the country remained little known outside of Asia. Korea’s participation in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 changed that. Visitors to the Korean pavilion were dazzled by the colorful displays of traditional clothing (hanbok), such as embroidered silk jackets and robes made for the Joseon royal court.” – museum website

Bridal robe, Korea, 19th century. © The Field Museum, Image No. A113982c, Cat. No. 33159. Gift of J. F. G. Umlauff, H. Higenbotham. Photo by John Weinstein.

This exhibition will include some of the actual textiles that were shown in Chicago in 1893. It also includes the work of modern designers, giving a fascinating overview of Korean culture.

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Next Wednesday, 24 August 2022, the Nebraska based International Quilt Museum will host a free Webinar, which should be of interest to our members. The museum curator, Marin Hanson, will be in discussion with Christine Martens “about her extensive travels in Central Asia and about the collecting of patchwork and quilted objects she has done on the museum’s behalf. Quilted robes, patchwork hangings, and talismanic children’s garments will all be featured in the discussion.” – museum website.

Tushtuk (decorative curtain). Probably made in Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan in the mid-20th century. Acquisition made possible by the Robert & Ardis James Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation, 2011.040.0008. © International Quilt Museum

I’ve known Chris for over a decade, through our shared love of the textiles of Central Asia. She is also an expert on feltmaking and leads tours to visit craftspeople so I’m sure this will be an excellent talk.

It takes place at 14:00 Eastern, which is 19:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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While on the subject of Central Asia, I recently read this article by Askar Alimzhanov in Voices of Central Asia. The Lives and Work of Soviet Kazakh Women in Photos contains many interesting images of Kazakh women. However I think the author in his opening paragraph fails to appreciate that having your photograph taken was treated as a serious business in many communities, and it was not uncommon to see people with solemn expressions.

Dina Nurpeisova, People’s Artist of the USSR, Almaty, 1941. Central State Archive of Film, Photo Documents, and Sound Recording of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

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The World Textile Day team is in for a busy few weeks, with their first event on Saturday 27 August 2022 at Frodsham in Cheshire. Entrance to these events is free, but there is a small charge (payable on the door) for attending the talks, which this time look at the West African bead trade, Japanese sashiko and textiles across borders.

For more details please visit the World Textile Day website.

Events and exhibitions featuring textiles from India, Japan, the Philippines, China and Peru

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Finally meeting again in person!

Several OATG members recently visited the Fashion and Textile Museum, London to see the exhibition 150 years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk. The group was guided around the exhibition by Sue Miller, and were grateful for her insights.

Woollen cloak by Livia Paplernick

One of the pieces that stood out was this wonderful woollen cloak, incorporating cotton hand embroidery, glass, jewels and metal threads. It was one of four pieces made by Livia Paplernick for her final show, and was chosen to represent the contemporary aspect of the Royal School of Needlework.

In my most recent blog I mentioned an event at the Royal Ontario Museum.  The video of Curator Conversations: For the Past, Present and Future of Ajrakh Blockprinting is now available to view at your leisure.

In it Sarah Fee is in conversation with textile artist Salemamad Khatri on his work to create and revitalize Ajrakh blockprinting in Kachchh, India. They are joined by Abdulaziz Khatri, trade manager at Khamir (a platform for the promotion of traditional art) to explore the role of artists and their supporters to preserve and promote the culture, community and environment of Kachchh.  

A key collaborator of Canadian contemporary artist Swapnaa Tamhane in the creation of the exhibition Swapnaa Tamhane: Mobile Palace, Khatri’s work is an integral part of the installations. Here he gives his perspective on the process of producing the textiles for the exhibition, and the difference between producing his own artwork and working with a contemporary visual artist. 

Turning next to a few events taking place around the world.

A new permanent exhibition of textiles has opened at the Ayala Museum in Manila. Skeins of Knowledge, Threads of Wisdom: The Mercedes Zobel Collection of Indigenous Philippine Textiles has been curated by Patricia M. Araneta and Floy Quintos, and the installation was designed by Gino Gonzalez. It shows how the “indigenous textile arts in the Philippines demonstrate the ingenuity, creativity, adaptability, and sophistication of the early Filipinos.” – museum website.

Left: an important tritik technique suit worn only by men of the magani rank. Right: A Bagobo jacket of cloth discarded from sails and sacks, ornamented with trade beads and mother-of-pearl shown above a pair of pantaloons with ikat and beading. Photo © Floy Quintos

Even if (like me) you can’t go to the exhibition, I would strongly recommend reading this excellent guide, produced by the museum. It has superb images – though some of them do take a while to download. I was fascinated to learn that abaca (fibre from a plant in the banana family) cloth gets its sheen from being burnished with a cowrie shell.

Abaca cloth burnished with cowrie shell.

The temporary exhibition Langs Geborduurde Wegen (Along Embroidered Roads) at the Museum de Kantfabriek in Horst, The Netherlands will now be on show until the end of 2022. It showcases some of the textiles from the extensive collection of Ien Rappoldt, who has been visiting Guizhou province for the past two decades, recording the embroidery art of the women.

The special exhibition Humans, Beasts, Gods. Textile Treasures from Ancient Peru continues at the Abegg-Stiftung in Switzerland until 13 November 2022.

Among the holdings of the Abegg-Stiftung in Riggisberg is a small but impressive collection of textiles from Ancient Peru. The majority of these early Peruvian textiles were collected by Werner Abegg between 1930 and 1933.

“The most interesting of these are now presented to the public for the first time in a dedicated exhibition.
The peoples of Ancient Peru were already producing a vast array of finely crafted fabrics and garments over two thousand years ago. That we can marvel at them today is thanks to a combination of climatic and geographical conditions, specifically the dry, salty soils of the desert regions of coastal Peru, in which these precious artefacts were preserved. Protected against both moisture and light, they survived the ravages of time either as offerings to the gods or as grave goods, the burial customs of past civilizations being a crucial factor in the “survival” of countless Peruvian textiles. ” – Museum website

I’ve already blogged several times about the Japanese textiles exhibition currently showing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Dark blue-ground festival kimono decorated with sea creatures; Cloth: cotton; tsutsugaki (freehand resist); The John R. Van Derlip Fund and the Mary Griggs Burke Endowment Fund established by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke FoundationFoundation

On Thursday 18 August textile conservator Dr Ishii Mie will examine Japanese Textiles: Traditional Dyes and Conservation Methods. An associate professor of art at Saga University, Japan, Dr. Ishii will introduce methods of textile conservation and recovery using examples from the royal collection stored at Shuri Castle in Okinawa, which was severely damaged by fire in 2019, and will describe the various techniques of textile dyeing in Japan. This is an in-person event, which begins at 18:30 CDT. Click here to book.

A new exhibition opens this week at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney to coincide with the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.

Textile length decorated with beetle wings, India. Acquired 1883. Powerhouse collection. Photo by Zan Wimberley

The exhibition is called Charka and Kargha – a charka being a spinning wheel and a kargha a loom. “The exhibition will feature over 100 rare items that date back to the foundational collections of the Powerhouse acquired since the 1880s. In addition to their beauty, many of the textiles featured in the exhibition incorporate spinning, weaving, dyeing and embroidery techniques. Highlights include block-printed textiles, known as Fustat fragments, believed to be made in Gujarat in the 1400s.” – Museum website

This exhibition runs until January 2023.

I’ve blogged previously about the Kimono Style exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum in New York. On Saturday 20 August 2022 two Met experts, Monika Bincsik and Marco Leona, “explore the history and modernization of the Japanese kimono. Learn about Japan’s famed weaving, dying, and embroidery techniques along with discoveries from new scientific research.” – Museum website.

Kyōgen suit (Suō) with rabbits jumping over waves, Japan mid-19th century.

This is a pre-recorded programme which will be available on YouTube and Facebook at 10:00 EDT, which is 15:00 BST. Click here for more details.

Ajrakh block printing, Jewish carpets, Ainu textiles and the Karun Thakar Fund

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I’ve only just become aware of this event, which takes place this Thursday 28 July. OATG member Sarah Fee of the Royal Ontario Museum will be in conversation with noted textile artist Salemamad Khatri, discussing his attempts to revitalise the art of block printing in Kachchh, India. They will also be joined by Abdulazziz Khatri of Khamir. This free online event takes place at 11:00 EDT, which is 16:00 BST. For more information and tickets please click here.

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In previous blogs I mentioned two talks that were taking place in the USA. I’m delighted to say that both of these were recorded and are now available to view.

The first recording is of a talk given by OATG member Alberto Boralevi at the Textile Museum in Washington on the subject What is a Jewish Carpet?

“Alberto Boralevi began his research on rugs and carpets with Jewish features or Hebrew inscriptions in the 1980s, when they were mostly overlooked both by carpet scholars and specialists in Jewish art. There are several difficulties for considering Jewish carpets as a specific group, since fundamental differences in origin, age, design and technique can be found among them. Boralevi defines Jewish carpets as any carpet or rug with a Jewish design, Hebrew inscriptions or any other feature that could prove that it was woven by Jews or commissioned by a Jew or for a Jewish purpose.” Museum website.

The second recording is by Christina M. Spiker on the subject of The Ainu of Japan: Their Unique Textile Tradition. This talk was given in person last week at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, who are currently exhibiting a wonderful collection of Japanese textiles.

Finally, a reminder that the deadline for applications for the Karun Thakar fund (in collaboration with the V&A) close at the end of August. Karun is particularly keen to support innovative small projects. Scholarship Awards of up to £10,000 are offered to students focussing on Asian or African textiles or dress at any accredited university worldwide. Project Grants of up to £5000 are offered to early-career researchers, practitioners, and curators as well as community leaders, grassroot collectives and community-based arts organisations in support of projects focused on Asian and African textiles and dress. More information about the fund can be found here.

Uzbek headdresses, Egyptian, Japanese and Malay textiles

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The next OATG event takes place this Saturday 16 July, so book now to make sure you don’t miss out!

Uzbek bash orau headdresses. © Yulduz Gaybullaeva

Yulduz Gaybullaeva will discuss Uzbek headdresses as an integral part of heritage. Dr Gaybullaeva’s thesis was on The history of Uzbek women’s clothes of 19th-20thcenturies, and her presentation will include skullcaps, shawls and paranjas from museum collections in Uzbekistan.

This is an online event and as it will begin at 15:30 BST we hope that many of our international members will be able to join us. It is free for OATG members and there is a small fee for non-members. Click here for more information and to register.

While on the subject of headdresses an exhibition recently opened at the Liechtenstein National Museum in Vaduz, entitled Head Adornment, Traditional Costume and Identity.

Wheel-shaped headdress with the seven roses motif. Probably made around 1850 in the Lake Constance region. © Frank Rossbach

“Historical headgear from the Lake Constance area and over 35 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa can be seen for the first time in a new concept. The more than 300 objects date from the 18th to the 21st century. Across the world, headdresses indicate social status and origin. The variety of textile and metal head ornaments includes bonnets, shackles, hair ornaments and other rare forms. A special focus is on wheel and gold bonnets from Liechtenstein and Austria, including individual items from the archive of the Liechtenstein Traditional Costume Association. Numerous complete costumes from Europe with their headdresses give an impression of the variety of regional clothing styles.” – Museum Press release

The exhibition runs until 30 October, and you can see more images of some of the headwear here. I was somewhat surprised at the use of white European models to show the headwear from Africa and Asia.

On 23 July the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California will host a Zoom programme shedding New Light on Textiles from Late Antique Egypt.

“The Museum für Byzantinische Kunst (Museum of Byzantine Art) in Berlin owns the largest collection of Late Antique Egyptian textiles in Germany.  This rich collection became the source of inspiration for New York artist Gail Rothschild’s new series of monumental paintings.  Rothschild transforms everyday woven objects from late antiquity into 21st-century art in her paintings. By juxtaposing her work with the original small-format ancient textiles from the 4th‒9th centuries, a fascinating dynamic emerges between the artifacts of a past culture and contemporary artistic production.  The enormous size of Rothschild’s works encourages viewers to examine the small-format textile fragments more intensively, which provides an opportunity to re-experience the original weavings as handcrafted masterpieces, as well as to learn about their everyday functions and uses by cultures of the past.  This program is inspired by an new exhibition at the Museum of Byzantine Art, and will feature Senior Curator Cäcilia Fluck in conversation with artist Gail Rothschild, both about the art, and the textiles themselves.” – TMA/SC

This free online event begins at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST and you can register for it here.

I mentioned the excellent exhibition of Japanese textiles currently on show at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in a previous blog.

Ainu robes on show at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

There are several stunning Ainu coats on display and for those who would like to learn more about these indigenous people and their amazing textile culture there will be a talk next Thursday evening (21 July) at 18:30 CDT. This talk is in person, and the speaker will be Christina M. Spiker, PhD, visiting assistant professor of art and art history, St. Olaf College. Booking is essential so click here for The Ainu of Northern Japan: Their Unique Textile Tradition.

One of the most intriguing coats on display was made by an unknown Nivkh woman from the Amur region, using fish skin. A lot of work has had to go into its conservation, before it could be shown to the public.

Fish skin coat before and after conservation

I really enjoyed reading this article by Alex Bortolot, explaining more about the materials used in the making of this coat.

“Nivkh women used reindeer sinew to sew the pieces together. Not surprisingly, in their choice of materials, they knew exactly what they were doing: in wet conditions, sinew thread expands, plugging the needle holes in the skin and rendering the whole garment more waterproof. “

The article then discusses some of the conservation methods which had to be employed to clean the coat and to repair some of the many tears in it. I highly recommend reading this.

A major new exhibition opens in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday 24 July.

Splendours of Malay World Textiles is an unprecedented exhibition displaying the entire genre of textiles from the Malay World. It will be accompanied by workshops, lectures, and a catalogue that will be published in 2023.

“650 textiles divided into 12 major categories of textile techniques will be on display. These include some of the best examples of Songket (brocade), Limar (weft ikat), Telepuk (gold leaf applique), Tekatan (embroidery), Pelangi (tie-dye), Ikat Loseng (warp ikat), Tenunan (plain weave of stripes and checks), Linangkit (tapestry), Cetakan (prints), Batik (wax resist), Renda (lace) and Anyaman (woven unspun plant fibre). Textiles of other countries that relate to these Malay textiles will also be on display to enable direct comparisons.” John Ang

If some of those terms are unfamiliar to you do read this article by Koyyi Chin in Tatler Asia, which provides a lot more background to John’s collecting and has illustrations of some fabulous textiles.

The exhibition runs until the end of October and tickets can be booked through John’s website.

I write this blog for the Oxford Asian Textile Group which, as you can see from the name, is based in Oxford in the UK. However about forty percent of our members are in other countries. Benefits of membership include three editions of our Asian Textiles journal each year, plus a free programme of events. Some of these are in person events, and others are on Zoom. All of our Zoom talks are recorded so that they can be viewed later through the members only section of our website.

Our forthcoming programme includes talks by Dr Fiona Kerlogue on batik, Maria Wronska-Friend on Kimono and Sarong, Gida Ofong on T’nalak from the Philippines, Monisha Ahmed on Ladakh and Alex Green on Burmese textile patterns. Membership runs from 1 October each year, but anyone joining now will not have to pay again until October 2023, in effect getting three months extra membership!

Finally, don’t forget to let me know about any textile events you hear of, so that I can share the information on here!

A selection of upcoming textile events

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A new exhibition opened a couple of weeks ago at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. Entitled Batik Kita: Dressing in Port Cities it shows batik as a shared southeast Asian cultural heritage. It features over 100 textiles from overseas as well as from local lenders and of course the ACM collection.

This article from The Straits Times is well worth reading for background to the exhibition.

Cotton batik tulis sarong bukitan of daisies with racing green kepala and badan in salmon pink with latticework isen isen filling.
Java, Pekalongan, 1930s – 1960s © ACM

The London-based Muslin Trust works to protect, preserve and promote Bangladeshi heritage fabrics. One of the most important among these is jamdani, which was used to make saris and stoles. It is so light that it has been described as woven from air. For several years they have been involved in a project called Bringing Jamdani to England. Part of this involved interviewing women who arrived in England in the 1960s and 1970s. “Their sense of self and belonging were expressed through the ritual of wearing a Jamdani sari; to reconnect with the culture they left behind”.

The V&A collection includes a jamdani stole, which was purchased at the Great Exhibition of 1851. This stole has never before been on display. This short video features extracts from the BBC2 series Secrets of the Museum, focussing on this stole. We learn about the history of the jamdani trade, and watch as 171 years of dirt are removed from this precious weaving before it is finally revealed to a group of Bangladeshi ladies from the Muslin Trust.

In complete contrast the new exhibition at the V&A showcases Africa Fashion.

Kente cloth from Ghana, made 1900-1949. These cloths were traditionally woven by men using a small double-heddle handloom.

“Starting with the African independence and liberation years from the mid-late 1950s – 1994 that sparked a radical political and social reordering across the continent, the African Cultural Renaissance section looks at the long period of unbounded creativity……The Politics and Poetics of Cloth considers the importance of cloth in many African countries, and how the making and wearing of indigenous cloths in the moment of independence became a strategic political act…..The first generation of African designers to gain attention throughout the continent and globally can be seen in the Vanguard section.” – Museum website.

Nelson Mandela commemorative cloth made in 1991.

The exhibition is now open and runs until April 2023.

The next OATG event will take place on Saturday 16 July, when Yulduz Gaybullaeva will discuss Uzbek headdresses as an integral part of heritage. Dr Gaybullaeva’s thesis was on The history of Uzbek women’s clothes of 19th-20th centuries, and her presentation will include skullcaps, shawls and paranjas from museum collections in Uzbekistan.

This is an online event and as it will begin at 15:30 BST we hope that many of our international members will be able to join us. It is free for OATG members and there is a small fee for non-members. Click here for more information and to register.

 Uzbek bash orau headdresses. ©Yulduz Gaybullaeva

Also taking place on Saturday 16 June is a talk by Alberto Boralevi as part of the Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning series. The subject he will be addressing is What is a Jewish Carpet?

“Alberto Boralevi began his research on rugs and carpets with Jewish features or Hebrew inscriptions in the 1980s, when they were mostly overlooked both by carpet scholars and specialists in Jewish art. There are several difficulties for considering Jewish carpets as a specific group, since fundamental differences in origin, age, design and technique can be found among them. Boralevi defines Jewish carpets as any carpet or rug with a Jewish design, Hebrew inscriptions or any other feature that could prove that it was woven by Jews or commissioned by a Jew or for a Jewish purpose.” Museum website.

Mamluk Torah curtain (parokhet), Egypt, c. 1500-1550. Museo della Padova Ebraica, Padua.

This online talk will begin at 11:00 EDT, which is 16:00 BST and you can find out more about it and register here.

Japanese, Indian and Southeast Asian textile events.

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My apologies for the long gap between blogs. I’ve been travelling in Indonesia doing some personal research and leading another textile tour. Its taken me a while to get back in gear…….

Palm leaves (some of which have been sliced into fine strips) drying on the island of Flores, and a lady using some of the dried strips for ikat binding. © Sue Richardson

A new exhibition opened a couple of weeks ago at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Kimono Style: The John C. Weber Collection, runs until February 2023. The exhibition looks at how the kimono has changed over time. In the late Edo period (1615-1868) the main buyers of kimono were the ruling military class.

“At the same time, a dynamic urban culture emerged, and the merchant class used its wealth to acquire material luxuries. Kimono, one of the most visible art forms, provided a way for the townspeople to proclaim their aesthetic sensibility……..In the Meiji period (1868–1912), Western clothing was introduced to Japan. Simultaneously, modernization and social changes enabled more women to gain access to silk kimonos than ever before. Around the 1920s, affordable ready-to-wear kimono (meisen) became very popular and reflected a more Westernized lifestyle.” – museum website

Early nineteenth century summer robe (Hito-e) with Court carriage and waterside scene. Lent by John C. Weber Collection

If like me you missed the recent exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington DC Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design you will be keen to watch this thirty minute video tour by the curator, Lee Talbot. It’s really excellent and the pace is just right, with lots of close-ups of the textiles.

Video tour of the exhibition by Lee Armstrong Talbot

Next Saturday, 25 June, OATG members Ruth Barnes and Sandra Sardjono will be taking part in an online panel for the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. The subject is Loss, Hope, and Conservation in Southeast Asian Textiles.

“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.

Ruth is now Curator of Indo-Pacific Art at Yale University and Sandra is the founder and president of the Tracing Patterns Foundation. The other panelists are conservator Julia Brennan of Caring for Textiles, Cherubim Quizon, who specializes in textiles of the Philippines, and Natasha Reichle, curator of the Weaving Stories exhibition.

This free event takes place via Zoom from 10:00-12:00 PDT, which is 18:00-20:00 BST. Tickets need to be booked in advance.

A kantha coverlet, Bemgal, early twentieth century. © Victoria and Albert Museum

Next Saturday also sees the opening of a new exhibition entitled Dressed by Nature: Textiles of Japan at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, showcasing some of the Japanese textiles they acquired from Thomas Murray, the author of Textiles of Japan.

“The Japanese archipelago is home to extremely diverse cultures that made clothing and other textile objects in a kaleidoscope of materials and designs. This exhibition will focus on the resourcefulness of humans to create textiles from local materials like fish skin, paper, elm bark, nettle, banana leaf fiber, hemp, wisteria, deerskin, cotton, silk, and wool. It will showcase rare and exceptional examples of robes, coats, jackets, vests, banners, rugs, and mats, made between around 1750 and 1930, including the royal dress of subtropical Okinawa, ceremonial robes of the Ainu from northern Japan and the Russian Far East, and folk traditions from throughout Japan.” – museum website

Eighteenth century Attush robe. Ainu People, Hokkaido, Japan, or Sakhalin, Siberia

The attush (elm bark) Ainu robe shown above will clearly be one of the highlights of the exhibition. It is fascinating to note the variety of talismanic pendants decorating this robe. These are made of a variety of materials including sturgeon scales, shells, bird bones and silk tassels.

On Sunday June 26 Tom will be giving a talk entitled Accounting for Taste: On the Collecting of Textiles from Japan. This is an in person talk and will take place at 14:00 CDT. Click here for tickets.

Don’t forget to let me know about textile events you hear of so I can share the information on here!

Textile events coming shortly….

Many OATG members will know of Karun Thakar’s amazing collection of textiles, from Asafo flags to embroidered shawls from the Punjab and much, much more. On Wednesday 20 April the Textile Museum in Washington DC will host an online conversation between Karun and curator Lee Talbot. The museum’s current exhibition, Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design, features textiles from Karun’s collection alongside some from the museum.

Courtesy of Karun Collection

“After outlining some of the challenges in planning a large-scale exhibition during the pandemic, they will take a closer look at some textiles currently on view, discussing aspects of their acquisition, research and conservation. Additional topics will include Thakar’s collecting in other areas, as well as the recently established Karun Thakar Fund at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which offers scholarships for early career researchers and practitioners in the field of Asian and African textiles.” – Museum website

Choga embroidered with figurative scenes (detail), Kashmir, c. 1830. Karun Thakar Collection, London.

This free Zoom event starts at 12:00 EDT, which is 17:00 BST. You can find out more and register for it here. Discover more about the Karun Thakar Fund on the website of the V&A here.

A short video overview of the exhibition, presented by Lori Kartchner, Curator of Education at the Textile Museum is now available to view here.

Video of exhibition

A reminder that the next OATG event takes place on Thursday 21 April when we will have a presentation by Victoria Vorreiter on Hmong Threads of Life: Traditional Hmong Textiles of the Golden Triangle. Victoria is a violinist and music teacher who began documenting the ceremonies and music of indigenous people several decades ago. She moved to Thailand 17 years ago and now spends her time trekking to remote villages in Laos, Myanmar, China and Thailand. Her photographs are incredible – just take a look at her website!

Victoria’s online presentation begins at 13:00 BST. It’s an afternoon event as she is based in Chiang Mai in Thailand. It will of course be recorded and the recording will later be made available to members. Non-members are welcome to attend for a small fee. More details and registration here.

In 2016 Victoria wrote a long, beautifully illustrated article for our OATG journal Asian Textiles, which you can read here.

Members may also be interested to learn more about an exhibition currently on at the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich. Hidden Complexities: Unfolding Miao Women’s Textile Skills runs until January 2023.

“Since the 16th century CE, the manifold textile varieties in the South-Western Chinese mountain regions has received unwavering interest from all over China – texts, drawings and, much later, political posters and photography have all engaged with Miao clothing.

This exhibition attempts to unlock the complexity of the textile knowledge and skill of Miao women’s work through an examination of Karola Kauffmann’s collection. It highlights questions about the proximity or distance of the self-presentation and representation of ethnic diversity in the context of social change and cultural-political tensions.” – Museum website

Indigo dyed cotton jacket. The back is decorated with silk felt appliqués, themselves embroidered with coloured silk. Such jackets characterise a Miao group living in Baibei village in the southeast of Guizhou province. The style is called the “hundred-bird style”. EMZ inv. no. 33523. Photograph: Kathrin Leuenberger 2021, Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich.

I particularly enjoyed reading this insight into how the exhibition is laid out and could really imagine myself entering the ‘indigo box’.

Thomas Murray recently gave a very well-received lecture for the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California. His subject was Archetypes, Aesthetics and Agency: Adat Textiles of Early Indonesian Cultures.

“Indonesian textiles are known to convey messages across time and space by means of an archetypal iconography that includes human figures, trees, boats, reptiles, birds and geometric patterns. These encoded images follow ancestral traditions and customary laws known as adat; cloth becomes sacred through a combination of fine spinning, dying, and weaving that creates a sense of aesthetic wonder……. This lecture will follow the themes presented in the newly published book, Textiles of Indonesia, and will focus on some of the finest cloths to come out of the archipelago, presenting each object with impeccable photographs.” – Thomas Murray

The TMA/SC have arranged for two Zoom presentations for those living further afield who missed out on this lecture. The first is intended for participants living in Southeast Asia and Australasia and starts at 19:00 PDT on Friday 22 April. As an example this is 09:00 on Saturday morning for those in Jakarta and Bangkok. Register here.

The second is timed for those in Europe and the Middle East. It will take place on Saturday 23 April at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST. You can register for it here.

Please ensure you register for the programme that best suits your time zone. Thomas Murray will be live at both Zoom presentations for the Q&A sessions.

Next an event that those in the UK won’t want to miss! It’s the Textile Society’s annual Antique and Vintage Textile Fair in Manchester next Sunday 24 April. This is always such an eclectic mix, with textiles from around the world and across several centuries. It’s always very busy and the car park fills fast so get there early!

Full details and ticket booking via this link.

On Wednesday 27 April the Textile Museum in DC will host a virtual programme linked to their current exhibition Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design. Textile specialist Rosemary Crill (ex V&A) will discuss Abstract Patterns in Indian Textiles.

Sari (detail), Patan, Gujarat, 19th century. The Textile Museum Collection 6.63. Acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1931.

“The abstract and geometric patterns of Indian textiles are as varied as the innumerable techniques used to produce them, encompassing woven, surface and embellished cloths of all kinds. Geometric structures form the basis of all cloth with intersecting warps and wefts, and as such stripes and checks are found in the oldest textiles known from South Asia.” 

This event takes place at 12:00 EDT, which is 17:00 BST . You can find out more and register for it here.

Don’t forget to let me know if you are aware of textile-related events that could be shared!

From Indonesia to Persia, India to Peru, the Golden Triangle to Egypt – something for everyone!

We have just been informed (by the curators) that the exhibition Ships and Passages, which was shown last year at the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich, can now be experienced virtually, through the wonders of technology.

Make sure you click EN on the bottom blue menu, unless of course you speak fluent German. If you use the zoom function you also have the option to see the back of the textiles, which I found really useful.

Asian Textiles has published two articles relevant to this exhibition. The first, entitled Alfred Steinmann and the ship motif, was co-authored by Georges Breguet and Gaspard de Marval and appeared in number 79. The second appeared in our most recent edition (number 81) and was entitled Alfred Steinmann’s ship tapis inuh. It was co-authored by the curators Andreas Isler and Paola von Wyss-Giacosa, along with OATG members Richard Isaacson and Louise Shelley.

Asian Textiles is a great searchable resource and all issues, apart from the past three years which are password-protected for members, can be freely accessed here.

On Saturday 9 April 2022 the New England Rug Society (NERS) will host an online presentation by Michael Rothberg entitled Saddlebags from Persia and the Caucasus: An Examination of Selected Design Motifs.

Michael’s presentation will focus on aspects of design in nineteenth century knotted-pile transport bags woven by tribal women. He will draw most of his examples, including Shahsevan, Kurdish, Afshar, Khamseh Confederation, Qashq’ai, Luri, and Baluch bags, from his book, Nomadic Visions, which was published by HALI and the Near Eastern Art Research Center in 2021. He will also discuss examples from the Transcaucasus, Persian Azerbaijan, and Varamin.

Registration is free for this programme, which begins at 13:00 Eastern Time, which is 18:00 BST. If you have any questions please email Jean Hoffman.

Khorjin front, Northeast Transcaucasia, Dagestan region.

An online exhibition by Hali of sixteen knotted pile bags from the Michael and Amy Rothberg Collection can be viewed here. The exhibition also includes several wonderful textiles from the collection of the late Neville Kingston, who was a member of the OATG for many years.

Also happening on Saturday 9 April is an in-person talk by Thomas Murray for the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California. His subject will be Archetypes, Aesthetics and Agency: Adat Textiles of Early Indonesian Cultures.

“Indonesian textiles are known to convey messages across time and space by means of an archetypal iconography that includes human figures, trees, boats, reptiles, birds and geometric patterns. These encoded images follow ancestral traditions and customary laws known as adat; cloth becomes sacred through a combination of fine spinning, dying, and weaving that creates a sense of aesthetic wonder……. This lecture will follow the themes presented in the newly published book, Textiles of Indonesia, and will focus on some of the finest cloths to come out of the archipelago, presenting each object with impeccable photographs.” – Thomas Murray

The programme begins at 10:00 PDT in Santa Monica, California and entry is limited to those with reservations. These must be received by 17:00 PDT on Thursday 7 April, so act now if you want to attend.

Don’t live in Southern California but would love to see this presentation? Then you just need to wait a little longer. The TMA/SC have arranged for two Zoom presentations later this month. The first is intended for participants living in Southeast Asia and Australasia and starts at 19:00 PDT on Friday 22 April. This is therefore 09:00 on Saturday morning for those in Jakarta and Bangkok as an example. Register here.

The second is timed for those in Europe and the Middle East. It will take place on Saturday 23 April at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST. You can register for it here.

Please ensure you register for the programme that best suits your time zone. Thomas Murray will be live at both Zoom presentations for the Q&A sessions.

Patola-inspired ‘Cepuk’ cloth used as protection in a tooth-filing ceremony in Ubud, Bali. © Urmila Mohan

On Sunday 10 April the Society for Art and Cultural Heritage of India will host an online talk by Urmila Mohan on Patola-inspired textiles in Indonesia as Forms of Spiritual Power. Dr Mohan is an anthropologist of material culture with a focus on clothing.

“While some of us know double-ikat as luxury textiles and handwoven traditions, based on Patola’s history as a trade commodity, we may be less familiar with the local ways in which Patola-inspired textiles are used in parts of Southeast Asia. This talk focuses on how these textiles acquire a new and different life in the Indonesian archipelago based on the creativity of weavers and dyers, and the ritual context of usage. While we can certainly admire these clothes for their artisanry and aesthetics, it is valuable to recognize that those very same qualities have real and tangible spiritual and cosmological effects in the societies within which they are embedded.” – SACHI website

This talk begins at 22:00 BST and you can register for it here.

On Tuesday 12 April Andean Textile Arts are hosting an intriguing Zoom presentation by Juan Antonio Murro entitled Written in Knots: What We Know Today About Khipus.

“Peru’s long-lived Wari and vast Inca empires employed sophisticated devices called khipu to record information, such as census data and labor obligations……. Made of cords, both Inca and Wari khipu seem to have recorded not only quantitative or statistical content, but narrative information as well. The variation in cord structures, colors, wrapping patterns, and knots encoded and conveyed information, while the basic elements—flexible knotted cords—offered a lightweight and compact means of transporting information across distances.” Andean Textile Arts

The talk begins at 19:00 Eastern Time, which is midnight in the UK – one for the nightowls. Click here for more details and registration.

Late nineteenth century jacket for a woman in a glazed and block printed cotton, Iran.

On Tuesday 12 April the New York based Hajji Baba Club will host a Zoom presentation by Augusta de Gunzbourg on From Buteh to Paisley: The History of a Global Icon.

“This curved, drop-like shape is one of the rare forms that features on textiles from all around the world and on clothing worn by all genders or ages. The motif has many names and meanings according to the different cultures that have all adopted it. Seen on Indian saris or on the Queen of England’s clothing, the questions we ask are: where and when did this motif originate and how did it become such a global icon?

The way the motif traveled historically and geographically will be illustrated with a wide range of items with Paisley from the TRC’s exhibition such as Iranian Qajar jackets, 19th century British ladies’ shawls or even a modern Japanese kimono.”

Augusta’s talk will feature the exhibition held at the Textile Research Centre, Leiden in 2021, on the history of the Paisley motif. It is well worth delving into this online resource here.

The talk will begin at 11:00 Eastern, which is 16:00 BST. Places do need to be reserved by 8 April so send your RSVP now!

The next OATG event takes place on Thursday 21 April when we will have a presentation by Victoria Vorreiter on Hmong Threads of Life: Traditional Hmong Textiles of the Golden Triangle. Victoria is a violinist and music teacher who began documenting the ceremonies and music of indigenous people several decades ago. She moved to Thailand 17 years ago and now spends her time trekking to remote villages in Laos, Myanmar, China and Thailand. Her photographs are incredible – just take a look at her website!

Victoria’s online presentation begins at 13:00 BST. It’s an afternoon event as she is based in Chiang Mai in Thailand. It will of course be recorded and the recording will be made available to members. Non-members are welcome to attend for a small fee. More details and registration here.

In 2016 Victoria wrote a long, beautifully illustrated article for our OATG journal Asian Textiles, which you can read here.

On Saturday 23 April the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, has an in-person event – still something of a novelty for many of us. Egyptian artist Lamis Haggag and professional khayamiya craftsman Mostafa El-Lathy will host a presentation and workshop on the traditional Egyptian appliqué craft of khayamiya, used to decorate tents. This event will run from 14:00 – 16:00. Click here for more details.

Next an event that is definitely in-person! It’s the Textile Society’s annual Antique and Vintage Textile Fair in Manchester on Sunday 24 April. This is always such an eclectic mix, with textiles from around the world and across several centuries. It’s always very busy and the car park fills fast so get there early!

Full details and ticket booking via this link.

Sari (detail), Patan, Gujarat, 19th century. The Textile Museum Collection 6.63. Acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1931.

On Wednesday 27 April the Textile Museum in DC will host a virtual programme linked to their current exhibition Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design. Textile specialist Rosemary Crill (ex V&A) will discuss Abstract Patterns in Indian Textiles.

“The abstract and geometric patterns of Indian textiles are as varied as the innumerable techniques used to produce them, encompassing woven, surface and embellished cloths of all kinds. Geometric structures form the basis of all cloth with intersecting warps and wefts, and as such stripes and checks are found in the oldest textiles known from South Asia.” 

This event takes place at 12:00 EDT, which is 17:00 BST . You can find out more and register for it here.

Don’t forget to let me know if you are aware of textile-related events that could be shared!

Royal Needlework, Tribal Weavings and the return of World Textile Days

There are lots of exciting events happening in April – including many in-person rather than on Zoom. I’m therefore splitting them across two blogs.

A new exhibition opens at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, this Friday 1 April 2022. It is entitled 150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk, and examines one of the UK’s oldest applied arts organisations.

“In 1872, the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) was founded on two key principles – the first, the preservation of hand embroidery as an art form and the second, the support of women’s independence through work” The exhibition “will explore this historic organisation’s contribution to the world of embroidery. The exhibition will present collaborations with the great names of the Arts and Crafts movement, commissions produced for the British royal family, contemporary works created for top, international designers and pieces by the RSN’s talented students.” – FTM website.

This exhibition runs until 4 September and you can book tickets here. An illustrated talk by the curators, discussing some of the key pieces will take place online on 1 April at 13:00 BST. Tickets cost £7.50 and can be booked by emailing the museum.

Excited to see that the World Textile Day team will be starting their events again this week. Their first venue is at East Horsley near Leatherhead, Surrey on Saturday 2 April 2022. Doors open at 10am and I would strongly advise you to get there early. The market place event is free, however there is a charge of £5 for entry to the talk, which is at 11am. The speaker this time will be Ian Rutherford and the topic Palestinian Dress & Costume. For more information on participating dealers and the venue please click here.

The Cotswold Art and Antique Dealers’ Association are holding a special week of exhibitions from 2-9 April 2022, under the title Cotswolds Curated.

Nine dealers will be participating, including OATG members Chris and Angela Legge. Their exhibition is entitled Tribal Weavings: Bags, Rugs and Carpets from Iran and Central Asia. They will be showing original artefacts, woven by tribal and village women for use in their homes, tents and on migration, and as symbols of identity and status on important occasions such as weddings.

A rare Ersari Engsi dating to the first half of the nineteenth century.

Their Oxford gallery will be open from 2 April through to 9 April, 9.30 am – 5 pm on weekdays and 11 am – 4 pm on the Sunday.

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is running one-day weaving workshops led by Susan Foulkes, the author of several books on band and braid weaving, on Friday 8 April and Saturday 9 April.

Participants will learn how to make a tubular filled cord using a weaving disc and a backstrap loom. These types of cords were previously used in Indonesia as lamp wicks, but their use has since died out. For more information and booking instructions please click here.

The inimitable John Gillow at a previous Mundford textile day.

Saturday 9 April sees the World Textile Day team in the East of England at Mundford, near Thetford. Entry to the exhibition and market place is free, and there is a small charge for the talks. The main talk – From Java to West Africa: Travelling Textiles – is at 11am, followed by two short talks in the afternoon. Full details here.

From India to Indonesia, Denmark to Turkmenistan and much, much more…..

The Spring edition of Asian Textiles is out now!

There is lots of excellent material inside, including articles on textiles from Bhutan, kelaghayi from Iran, baandha from Odisha and Alfred Steinmann’s ship tapis inuh from Indonesia. UK members should have already received their copies and they should arrive with our many international members shortly.

Sheila photographed in Bukhara in 1996 by David Richardson

Some of you will be aware of the passing last week of Sheila Paine, an honorary member of the OATG. Sheila lived such a full and active life travelling, researching textiles, writing numerous books – as well as being the life and soul of the party. She will be greatly missed. OATG will be organising an event to honour her life and a full obituary will appear in the next edition of Asian Textiles.

This short video is a great reminder of everything she stood for, and some of her excellent travel images were featured in an exhibition at the Pitt Rivers Museum called Embroidered Visions a few years ago.

This Wednesday, 16 March, the Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) will host a talk by Rosemary Crill on Four aspects of Indian embroidery: early traditions; European exports; embroidery for the courts and embroidery in South India.

“Rather than attempting a survey of India’s many embroidery traditions, this talk will explore several separate aspects of Indian embroidery from the 15th to the 19th century, with a particular focus on groups of textiles that continue to raise questions of different kinds. These include embroidery in the pre-Mughal period; embroidery made for export to Portugal and Britain; embroidery at the Mughal and Deccani courts; coverlets (rumals) from the Punjab Hills and embroidery in South India.” – ORTS website

This will be a hybrid event, taking place at the University Women’s Club in London and simultaneously on Zoom. Non-members are welcome to attend, but those wanting Zoom access need to email Dimity Spiller.

Vase carpet, Persia, around 1600, wool // Courtesy Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Islamische Kunst.
 

On Sunday 20 March the International Hajji Baba Society – DC will host a talk by Anna Beselin, Curator for Carpets and Flat Weaves at the Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin entitled The Berlin Carpet Collection: Today and Tomorrow.

“At the end of the 19th century, Berlin became both the birthplace for oriental carpet studies and the center for collecting and preserving the most extraordinary examples. The Carpet Collection of the Museum für Islamische Kunst, located in the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin, is one of the most important and oldest carpet and textile collections in Europe………In 2023, the museum will close, only to reopen in the summer of 2026 in completely new rooms and a larger space. What measures and what transformation the museum will go through to make the leap into the future is the subject of this lecture, based on its rich carpet collection. Aiming to catch a new and wider audience this talk will introduce you to a fascinating variety of individual histories of the carpet collections highlights, which will be presented in the new Galleries of the Museum for Islamic Art Berlin in 2026.” – IHBS website.

This free webinar begins at 13:00 Eastern time, which is 17:00 GMT.

Anna Beselin is also the author of Knots: Art & History The Berlin Carpet Collection, published in 2019.

I found this article about an exhibition in 2018 of some of these carpets really interesting. The exhibition was called Traum und Trauma (Dream and Trauma) and showed carpets in various states of repair following fire and bomb damage in Berlin during the Second World War.

On Tuesday 22 March Tom Murray will give a talk to the New York based Hajji Baba Club on Archetypes, Aesthetics and Agency: Adat Textiles of Early Indonesian Cultures.

“Indonesian textiles are known to convey messages across time and space by means of an archetypal iconography that include human figures, trees, boats, reptiles, birds and geometric patterns. These encoded images follow ancestral traditions and customary laws known as adat; cloth becomes sacred through a combination of fine spinning, dying, and weaving that creates a sense of aesthetic wonder…..

This lecture will follow the themes presented in the newly published book, Textiles of Indonesia, and will focus on some of the finest cloths to come out of the archipelago, presenting each object with impeccable photographs. Geographically arranged, this lecture pays particular attention to textiles from the Batak and the Lampung region of Sumatra, the Dayak of Borneo, and the Toraja of Sulawesi, as well as rare textiles from Sumba, Timor and other islands.” – HBC website

Click here for more information about this talk, which begins at 18:00 Eastern time, which unfortunately is 22:00 GMT.

Tom’s new book, Textiles of Indonesia, is a must for anyone interested in the textiles of this archipelago. The quality of the textiles depicted and of the photography is outstanding. It includes essays by some of the leading researchers in that area – Lorraine V. Aragon, Joanna Barrkman, Christopher Buckley, Kristal Hale, Valerie Hector, Janet Alison Hoskins, Itie van Hout, Etsuko Iwanaga, Fiona Kerlogue, Eric Kjellgren, Brigitte Khan Majlis, Robyn Maxwell, Thomas Murray and Sandra Sardjono.

Registration is now open for Costume Society of America Symposium, which takes place from 24-29 May in Minneapolis/St Paul. The theme this year is Land of 10,000 Ideas – Innovation through Dress. Please note that Early Bird registrations are only available up to 8 April 2022. More information and a link to how to register can be found here. You can access the full schedule here.

A seminar on Margrethe Hald and the Nordic History of Textile Research will take place at the University of Copenhagen 22 April, 2022 and it will also be possible to follow the seminar online. Details of the various lectures can be seen in the image above.

If you wish to participate please email Morten Grymer-Hansen before the 7 April, 2022 specifying whether you want to participate at the university or online.

Asia Week takes place in New York from 16-25 March. There will be exhibitions, auctions and lectures on a variety of topics, but I couldn’t find many on textiles. The offering by Tom Murray was of course an exception….

Attush robe

“A magnificent Attush robe, is just one of the pieces inImportant Indian & Indonesian Textiles at Thomas Murray, and was made by the Ainu people, in Hokkaido, the northern most island of Japan. The tan-colored ground cloth is from elm-bark fiber and decorated with appliquéd indigo cotton, silk tassels, shells, marine creatures, and white embroidery. With compelling ancient graphic designs known to ward off evil, this robe is one of the finest ever to come to light and likely belonged to a shaman or a high-status chief.” – Asia Week Press Release

On Saturday 26 March the New England Rug Society host Alan Rothblatt, who  will be talking about Rare Turkmen Asmalyks.

Alan Rothblatt holding a Tekke ‘bird’ asmalyk

“Of all Turkmen weavings, asmalyks—trappings that adorn the flanks of the camel carrying the bride on her wedding day— have been the most captivating to collectors. This webinar, “Rare Turkmen Asmalyks,” will present a selection of the best asmalyks from the various Turkmen tribes and will provide insights into some of these highly desired items. The majority of Turkmen collectors share a welldeveloped trait: the ability to focus on the tiny details of Turkmen rugs that help determine age and tribal origin and that distinguish the greatest examples. Alan Rothblatt … acquired his first Turkmen weaving over thirty years ago and has been an active participant and frequent presenter at meetings of the International Collectors of Turkmen Carpets, in Hamburg, Germany, as well as at the Rug Collectors’ Weekend, in California.” – NERS website

This webinar begins at 13:00 Eastern time, which is 17:00 GMT. It is free, but non-members do need to email Jean Hoffman to receive an invitation.

And finally please don’t forget that I am always on the lookout for information about events to share in this blog. If you know of any please do email me.