Event: The Dark Side of the Textile Trade – From the Silk Road to Today

 

Event date: Saturday 18 August 2018, 10am

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. The photo above shows strands from Persian rugs from Iran which had heroin woven into them.

This survey of illicit trade will discuss the abuses of the textile trade for both commercial and political objectives. Dr. Louise Shelley will reveal a largely unknown story of crime and often state-sponsored criminal trade. Dr Shelley is a University Professor at George Mason University, and Director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC), Washington, D.C. and a board member of the DC Hajji Baba Society.

This event is part of the regular programme of interesting talks hosted by the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California, Inc and will be held at

Luther Hall, Lower Level St. Bede’s Episcopal Church

3590 Grand View Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90066-1904

This is just south of the 10 freeway, and west of the 405, near the intersection of Centinela and Palms and there is free parking. This event is free for members and $10 for non-members.

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Exhibition: Empresses of China’s Forbidden City

 

 

Exhibition dates: 18 August 2018 – 10 February 2019

This is the first major international exhibition to explore the role of empresses in China’s grand imperial era — the Qing dynasty, from 1644 to 1912. Nearly 200 works, including imperial portraits, jewellery, garments, Buddhist sculptures and decorative art objects from the Palace Museum, Beijing (known as the Forbidden City), tell the little-known stories of how these women influenced art, religion, court politics and international diplomacy.

The Qing imperial court was strictly patriarchal and hierarchical. The empress’ primary duty was to bear a son to continue the imperial line, but she was more than the borrowed womb of the dynasty. She also headed the imperial harem and could influence the emperor. She was regarded as the “mother of the state” and a role model for all women.

Moving boldly against the tradition that “women shall not rule,” some empresses took more direct control of state affairs in challenging times. Presiding over the state ritual of promoting silk production and the textile industry, empresses honoured women’s vital economic health of the state. A number of empresses played a prominent role in art patronage and religious activities. They did not bind their feet and could learn to ride and hunt.

For more details visit the website of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Massachusetts

Exhibition: Himalayan Fashion – High Altitude High Fashion

 

Exhibition dates: 23 March – 26 October 2018

The current exhibition at Lotherton Hall, an Edwardian country house and estate near Leeds, Yorkshire, showcases textiles from Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. It is a very eclectic mix, ranging from mountaineering gear to a colourful apron on loan from Joss Graham. One of the highlights is a rare woman’s headdress called a pagor, which is made from rolls of cotton, covered in red wool cloth, studded with silver mounted turquoise jewels and smaller turquoise and coral stones. The story of the restoration of this headdress by conservator Karen Horton can be read here

Other highlights include a snow leopard rug, Gurkha clothing and men’s and women’s outfits from Bhutan. Further details about the exhibition can be found on the Museum’s website here

In addition, a special Himalayan Fashion Study Day will be held at Lotherton on 10 September 2018. This will include talks by the conservator as well as the well known author Gina Corrigan. Participant numbers are limited and places can be booked through this link

 

 

Article: – Textiles from the Arab World – A Dress from Palestine

 

Abigael Flack is the Collections Officer at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, and has written a great blog about her work on a dress donated to them by Jenny Balfour-Paul.

Abigael writes:-

“As the Collections Officer, part of my role is cataloguing a recent offer of textiles collected from across the Middle-East and North Africa, which the museum is in the process of acquiring. Costume and textile collections are some of my favourite to work with, particularly because how we dress can say so much about us. As such, costume and textile objects will be a great jumping off point for discussions with our volunteers and participants.

Lately I’ve been working on textiles that were collected from Palestine, like this beautifully embroidered dress. This traditional dress (thob) is probably from either Ramallah or Bethlehem and likely made around the 1920s-30s. It is made from hand woven natural linen and decorated with distinctive red silk embroidery. The silk would likely have been imported from Syria. The dress shows many of the features of traditional Palestinian costume, including the rich colour of the threads and the square chest panel (Qabbah) with embroidered motifs.”

To read the full blog and see more images of this dress click here.

Article: Beadwork in the Arts of Africa and Beyond

 

What exactly are beads?

Beads are most often small and spherical, made from materials that are desirable because of qualities such as color, shine, or rarity. By definition, beads are pierced with a hole so that they may be strung together or attached to a surface through various techniques, and they are some of the first decorative objects made by man: archaeologists working in the Blombos cave in South Africa recently uncovered forty-one marine shell (Nassarius kraussianus) beads made approximately seventy-five thousand years ago.

The study of these small and precious objects provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of global trade, reminding us that people of different ages, places, and cultures may hold precisely the same objects dear. While this article primarily examines the use of glass beads in African art, it recognises beads as a global medium of expression used for millennia, and therefore draws on objects from across The Metropolitan Museum of Art collection to further our understanding.

Beads made from glass have served as a basic item of trade since ancient times, and in the sixteenth century the circulation of glass beads grew exponentially with the development of world trade. The intrinsic desirability of the bead—as well as the ease with which a relatively large quantity could be transported as cargo—made them an essential item of trade. As these beads became an ever more popular commodity, the tiny island of Murano—located about one mile north of Venice, Italy—developed into the global capital of glass-bead manufacture. By 1606 there were 251 bead-making firms recorded in Murano alone, and Venetian glassmakers are thought to have made some one hundred thousand different varieties of bead types and designs for global export.

To read the full article by James Green and see some fabulous beadwork click here

Event: In Celebration of the Sarong

 

Event dates: 10 – 13 August 2018

To mark the auspicious occasion of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 86th Birthday, the Sanjai Saiyai Phasin Club is organising the fourth Annual Sarong Festival to promote woven fabrics from all regions of Thailand. The event will be held from August 10 to 13 from 10am to 10pm at The Street Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok.

“We will bring woven fabrics from all over the country to salute Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and to also preserve and support Thai handicrafts in line with royal aspirations,” said the club’s president Nayada Amatavanich.

“The event will also feature talks by many famous Thai Fabric designers, among them Thanit Phoomsawai, a well-known designer from the drama “Buppesanniwas”, Wasin Oonjanam costume designer of the drama “Nakaraj”, artists who have created and rewoven fabric patterns such as Terdsak Insaeng, Pairat Sararat, Jongjarun Manakam and Suriya Wongchai, as well as additional Thai fabric experts from different regions. And we will demonstrate how to wear a sarong in various forms.”

In partnership with Feature Co Ltd, the club will also unveil a precious publication on woven textiles in Thailand.

Sanjai Saiyai Phasin Club was established on December 5, 2017 with the objective of preserving and promoting Thai sarong and woven textiles in all regions. It currently has more than 17,000 members.

 

Article: Lotha Weaving in Nagaland India

 

The Lotha Naga in Longsa village, Wokha District, Nagaland, weave lotha – vividly coloured, geometrically patterned shawls that when worn, denote a man or woman’s social status in the community. The weaving of shawls, scarves and sarongs is done exclusively by women on loin or body tension looms, which are commonly used throughout northeast India. The Naga loom consists of a simple back-strap with a continuous horizontal warp. Basic tools such as warp beams, lease rods, healed sticks and beating swords are fashioned from debris, making the loom inexpensive and highly portable.

Cotton, wool and increasingly, rayon are all used for weaving the long, narrow shawls. Stripes, squares and bands of black, red and white colour are typically used; some designs are woven over with patterns depicting animals or human figures, symbolised by a circular shape. The finished lotha is warp-dominant and has a ribbed texture.

To read the full article and watch a short video on Lotha weaving visit the website of The Textile Atlas here

Textile Tidbits: Jumlo from Indus Kohistan

 

This woman’s dress or jumlo is the featured Object of the Month from the SADACC (South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection) Trust.

It was made from a woven black cotton fabric and is finely embroidered with silk threads. It is constructed from three main parts: a bodice, long wide sleeves and a full skirt comprised of numerous triangular inserts of cloth, known as godets. Symmetry is an important element in the design and jumlos are elaborately adorned with buttons, beads and coins. This particular example features beadwork, mother-of-pearl buttons, metal amulets, chains and Pakistani coins dating from 1948 and 1949. Some jumlo are further embellished with zips, lead weights, key and bath chains, padlocks and brass buttons.

Jumlos are made and worn by women from the Shin community. The Shin are semi-nomadic shepherds, who live mainly in the upper valleys of Indus Kohistan, in north west Pakistan, where farming is difficult due to the dry, mountainous landscape. The Shin people move their livestock to higher or lower ground in accordance with the seasons, leaving their village homes during the summer months.

The SADACC Trust is based in Norwich, UK, and more information on this jumlo and many other objects can be found on their website

 

Event: Sumba – Island of the Ancestors

Event date: Thursday 19 July, 6-7:45pm

OATG members David and Sue Richardson first visited the Indonesian island of Sumba in 1991. They have since returned many times, drawn back by its fascinating culture and fabulous textiles.

This talk will briefly cover the history and ethnography of Sumba, before focussing on its weaving culture. Textiles are fundamental to life on this island, being used extensively in bridewealth exchanges, for settling disputes, and for funerals. Two main techniques are used – supplementary warp and warp ikat. It can take many months just to do the binding for one of the ikat cloths, with some requiring up to 20,000 separate knots.

David and Sue will also be showing some wonderful examples from their extensive collection – including textiles made by members of the Sumbanese Royal families.

Location: The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS.

Time: 6pm for a 6:15 start

OATG events are free for members and £3 payable on the door for non-members. Advance booking is recommended.

Should you require disabled access, please do get in touch beforehand to make sure adequate provisions can be made.

For more information, and to book a place at this event, visit the Eventbrite page.

Exhibition: Empire of the Sikhs

 

Exhibition dates: 12 July – 23 September 2018

This major free exhibition telling the story of the last great native kingdom which challenged the British for supremacy of the Indian subcontinent opens today. The Sikh Empire (1799–1849), which spanned much of modern day Pakistan and northwest India, was forged by the ‘Napoleon of the East’ Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780–1839) who became known as Sher-e-Punjab, the Lion of Punjab, over his forty-year reign.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh established a powerful military meritocracy that included many European officers. His empire offered a crucial buffer state between the British and incursions via the Khyber Pass. The one-eyed king was a trusted ally of the British but also a potentially formidable opponent.

The inevitable clash with the British came in the form of two bitterly fought Anglo-Sikh Wars (1845–46, 1848–49) in which British pre-eminence hung in the balance as they came within hours of a total surrender. But through treachery, victory was turned into defeat for the Sikhs whose territories, treasury and fighting men became incorporated into British dominion.

A source of great interest to British visitors to the Sikh royal court prior to annexation was the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which was wrested from Afghan hands in 1813. The fabled jewel was eventually presented to Queen Victoria on 3 July 1850 in the armlet that Ranjit Singh had specially made for it. Fitted with a rock crystal replica of the original, uncut Koh-i-Noor, it is now preserved as part of the Royal Collection and will be one of the highlights on display along with a stunning array of over 100 objects and works of art from leading private and public collections.

Among them will be glittering jewellery and weaponry from the Sikh Empire including personal items that belonged to Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the most famous of his thirty ‘official’ wives, Maharani Jind Kaur. They were the parents of the deposed boy-king Maharaja Duleep Singh and grandparents to prominent suffragette (and goddaughter to Queen Victoria), Princess Sophia Duleep Singh.

For more information visit the website of the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London.