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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.