Exhibition: Art of the Zo – Textiles from Myanmar, India and Bangladesh

Philadelphia Museum of Art - Art of the Zo

Exhibition dates: 11 November 2015 – 20 March 2016

For readers based in the US, there’s still nearly a month left to see this stunning-looking show in Philadelphia.

This exhibition offers a look at beautiful woven textiles of the Zo people of Myanmar, India and Bangladesh. It focuses on traditional weavings worn for daily life and ceremonial occasions, such as weddings, funerals and feasts of merit. The Zo consider weaving to be the highest form of art. They believe their textiles confer status to the weaver and document his or her status in this life and the afterlife. ‘Art of the Zo’ presents how these woven treasures are made and worn, and features twentieth-century examples from specific locality and cultural divisions.

A talented Zo weaver is prized by her community for her skills. Using the most basic of looms, she can create textiles that range from unpatterned indigo-dyed cloth and simple, colourful stripes to complex weaves that could be mistaken for embroidery. Although most Zo have adopted Burmese and Western attire, some embrace traditional weaving techniques in an effort to preserve their culture. This exhibition draws from the Philadelphia Museum’s collection of Zo textiles and loans from Barbara and David Fraser, authors of Mantles of Merit: Chin Textiles from Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh (2005).

In addition to tunics, wrap skirts, mantles, loincloths, capes and blankets, the exhibition includes a loom with a partially woven cloth next to a finished example from the museum’s collection. A video presentation, photographic details of selected works, and graphics of specific weave structures further demonstrate the virtuosic skill of Zo weavers.

For more information, visit the website of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA.

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