On 10 December 2018 a Symposium in Conservation Science was held at the British Museum in London, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Department of Scientific Research of the British Museum hosted this symposium about the scientific investigation of Asian textiles in museum collections. There was a particular focus Chinese textiles, but there were also contributions covering other geographical provenances along the Silk Road. The symposium featured scientific research recently carried out on Dunhuang textiles from the British Museum’s collection. The focus of the workshop was the importance of different scientific approaches and analytical techniques to the study of weaving, fibres and dyes in Asian textiles. Comparisons between the information that can be obtained with non-invasive and invasive approaches were encouraged, as well as how this information relates to conservation challenges and display decisions.
The programme covered such diverse topics as Silk Road Thangka Textiles from the Sven Hedin Collection, Investigating Asian colourants in textiles from Dunhuang in the British Museum, and Silk, wild silk and half silk textiles from Palmyra – New scientific approaches. The full programme can be viewed here
A Book of Abstracts for the event has now been made available for download. These abstracts should certainly whet the appetite of textile enthusiasts and scholars alike!
The Textile Society of America hold a highly regarded biennial symposium, the proceedings of which are eventually made available online. The papers from the 2016 symposium were recently uploaded and cover such diverse topics as Indian block-prints, phulkari, Japanese shibori and many more. The papers available date right back to 1988, making this an invaluable free resource.
Click here to access the papers – but be warned, it’s addictive and you may be there some time!
After a hiatus of more than ten years, The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum are pleased to announce the relaunch of the Textile Museum Journal.
Established in 1962, the Textile Museum Journal is the leading publication for the exchange of textile scholarship in North America. The peer-reviewed journal promotes high-quality research on the cultural, technical, historical and aesthetic significance of textiles from Asian, African and indigenous American cultures. Last issued in 2004, the journal resumed annual publication last month, thanks to a Founding Patron gift from the Markarian Foundation, and is now available in an online format.
Table of Contents
Textile Museum Journal, Volume 44
Toward a Grammar of Textiles: A Reconsideration of Medieval Textile Aesthetics and the Impact of Modern Collecting
Nomad Textile Bags from Central Asia in the 19th and 20th Centuries: Geographic Distribution, Decoration, Semantics
Through the Renaissance Frame: Carpets and the Beginnings of ‘Islamic Art’ in Nineteenth-Century Vienna and Berlin
Pope Innocent VIII’s Mamluk Carpets from Cairo in Context: Their Manufacture and Acquisition
Rosamond E. Mack
Rethinking Mamluk Carpet Origins
For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum, Washington DC.
Researchers in Sweden have found Arabic characters woven into burial garments from Viking boat graves. The discovery raises new questions about the influence of Islam in Scandinavia.
The clothing was kept in storage for more than 100 years, dismissed as typical examples of Viking Age funeral clothes. But a new investigation into the garments – found in ninth and tenth-century graves – has thrown up groundbreaking insights into contact between the Viking and Muslim worlds. Patterns woven with silk and silver thread have been found to spell the words ‘Allah’ and ‘Ali’.
The breakthrough was made by textile archaeologist Annika Larsson of Uppsala University while re-examining the remnants of burial dress from male and female boat and chamber graves originally excavated in Birka and Gamla Uppsala in Sweden in the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries.
To read about this discovery in full, visit the BBC website.
Although this news isn’t current (the needle was discovered last summer), it will still be of interest to anyone who didn’t read about the discovery at the time.
The 7 centimetre (2 3/4 inch) needle was made and used by our long extinct Denisovan ancestors, a recently-discovered hominin species or subspecies.
Scientists found the sewing implement – complete with a hole for thread – during the annual summer archaeological dig at a cave in the Altai Mountains widely believed to hold the secrets of human origins. It appears to be still usable after 50,000 years.
Professor Mikhail Shunkov, head of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, said: ‘It is the most unique find of this season, which can even be called sensational. It is a needle made of bone. As of today it is the most ancient needle in the word. It is about 50,000 years old.’
The needle is seen as providing proof that the long-gone Denisovans – named after the cave – were more sophisticated than previously believed. It predates by some 10,000 years an intricate modern-looking piece of polished jewellery made of chlorite by the Denisovans.
To read about the discovery in full, visit the website of the Siberian Times.
For those of you who might have missed it, Asian textiles got into the news last month when a royal Rajasthani tent was cleaned for the first time in over three hundred years. A totally unique textile, made in imperial workshops from red silk velvet and gold, unfurled it stands four metres high – as high as a London double-decker bus. It’s known as the Lal Dera, or the Shahi Lal Dera – the Royal Red Tent, and is believed to have been the home of Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal.
To read the article in full, visit the BBC website.
The SADACC Trust (based in Norwich, UK) is seeking participants to be interviewed for the India and Pakistan Remembered 2017 project.
To coincide with the 70th anniversary of India and Pakistan’s independence, the SADACC Trust is embarking on an exciting oral history project. We will be interviewing people who have lived in India or Pakistan, or whose relatives lived there in the past.
We want to hear about your memories or family stories of life in India and Pakistan (whether recent or centuries ago). In particular, we are interested in learning about objects, heirlooms or keepsakes from the subcontinent that are still attached to, or seem to contain these memories. In discovering how objects help to relate people to events in the past, we hope to better understand what memories the objects in The South Asia Collection might evoke in visitors to the museum.
The India and Pakistan Remembered 2017 project will create an archive of recorded interviews about people’s memories (whether their own or stories they have inherited) of life in India and Pakistan. The interviews will also contribute to an exhibition – ‘India and Pakistan Remembered’ – and accompanying publications.
If you are interested or would like more information, please contact our Collection Curator Ben Cartwright at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01603 663890.
Participants are encouraged to bring objects (or photographs of those objects) which evoke stories of life in either India or Pakistan to interview sessions. We hope to explore how these objects spark memories of certain people, places and events in the past.
By agreeing to be involved, you will be a unique voice contributing to a better understanding of the history of India and Pakistan through lived experiences.
Please circulate this message to anyone you feel would be interested in being interviewed.
Oxford Asian Textile Group now has a Facebook page! Visit it at https://www.facebook.com/OxfordAsianTextileGroup/. If you use Facebook, this is a great way to stay informed about OATG’s news and events, and connect with other Asian textile-related groups and like-minded people – just ‘like’ our page, and you’ll be kept up to date.
I look forward to seeing you there!
Remains of a suspected female of Turkik origin have been found at an altitude of 2,803 metres in the Altai Mountains.
The ancient human remains are wrapped in felt. The excavation is being hailed as the first complete Turkik burial found in Central Asia. B. Sukhbaatar, researcher at Khovd Museum, said: ‘This person was not from elite, and we believe it was likely a woman, because there is no bow in the tomb. Now we are carefully unwrapping the body and once this is complete the specialists will be able to say more precisely about the gender.’
In the mummy’s grave archaeologists found – alongside the human remains – a saddle, bridle, clay vase, wooden bowl, trough, iron kettle, the remains of an entire horse, and four different ‘Dool’ (Mongolian clothes). There were also pillows, a sheep’s head and felt travel bag in which were placed the whole back of a sheep, goat bones and a small leather bag for the cup.
Sukhbaatar said: ‘It is the first complete Turkik burial at least in Mongolia – and probably in all Central Asia. This is a very rare phenomenon. These finds show us the beliefs and rituals of Turkiks.’
To read the full article, visit the website of the Siberian Times.
One of the last cotton mills in Lancashire – Helmshore Mills Textile Museum – will close its doors to the public at the end of next month. The museum is one of five to close as part of controversial cuts approved by Lancashire County Council (LCC) last week.
LCC has confirmed that the popular mill museum will shut by 1 April but has approved emergency funding to find alternative operators to take on the running of the museums and prevent them from falling into disrepair.
Helmshore councillor Brian Essex suggested the decision could be open to legal challenge. He said: ‘There has been a considerable campaign to keep it open as part of the heritage and community of Rossendale. I am sure there will be a large number of people across Rossendale who will be appalled to hear of its closure. Hopefully it can be kept open in some way, but this is a tremendous, momentous blow to the museum.’
For more information, visit the website of local newspaper, the Rossendale Free Press.