News: Focus on mud dyeing

Event date: 15 June 2019 at 14:00.

 

Following on from yesterday’s blog we now have the details of the second dyeing talk and demonstration.

“Amami Oshima is an island in the Ryūkyū archipelago, southern Japan. It is renowned for Oshima tsumugi, a kimono cloth dyed by dorozome (mud-dyeing), an ancient technique that gives a unique black colour to textiles. The dyeing workshop KANAI KOUGEI specializes in dorozome for Oshima tsumugi. Alongside their own products dyed using plant materials sourced from Amami’s unique natural environment, KANAI KOUGEI also dye fashion and interior objects for international contemporary designers. This is a rare opportunity to see the process of Dorozome by Japanese practitioners using actual materials from Amami Oshima in the UK.

This talk and workshop are initiated by designer and anthropologist Charlotte Linton, University of Oxford, who has invited Yukihito Kanai (vice-president/dyer) and Akiyo Shidama (maker/dyer) from KANAI KOUGEI to present with her a lecture about Amamian traditional textiles.

Following the talk, there will be a tour of the Dye Garden with Wesley Shaw, the Head of Horticulture at the Horniman Museum.

Workshop
In addition, a small number of participants will be able to dye a furoshiki (wrapping cloth) using dorozome materials brought from Amami. Due to limited materials and supervision, the workshop numbers are necessarily small. Lecture attendees are welcome to stay and watch the workshop.

Please note that this event is only suitable for children over 16.”

This event at the Horniman Museum in London is free and open to the public, but booking is necessary. For further details of the event visit the website of the Japan Society and follow this link to book. Please note spaces are very limited so early booking is essential!

 

A selection of mud-dyed textiles. Photo by Kentaro Takahashi for The New York Times

An excellent article by Martin Fackler on the economic issues facing the kimono producers of Amami Oshima appeared in The New York Times in 2015. He describes how 20,000 people were once employed in this profession, but that number has now shrank to 500. His article ends with the following words from Yukihito Kanai – one of the presenters of the Horniman event:  

“We need to become more like artisans in Europe or artists in New York,” said the younger Mr. Kanai, 35, who said he is one of the few “young successors” in the island’s kimono industry. “Even traditions have to evolve.”

The production of a kimono on the island of Amami Oshima is so meticulous that a single mistake could squander the efforts of every artisan in the process. The BBC series Handmade in Japan tracked the year-long transformation of the island’s famous mud-dyed silk into an exquisite garment. Although the full-length programmes are no longer available online, short video clips still are. These cover the various people involved in making a kimono – the starcher, the designer, the binder, the mud-dyer, the weaver, the inspector and the tailor. They can be viewed on the BBC website under the title Mud, Sweat and Fears.

For more information on mud dyeing (more correctly mud-mordanting as it is the tannin which produces the dye) see the work of OATG members David and Sue Richardson on their Asian Textile Studies website. David and Sue have also documented the process of mud-dyeing used by the last practitioner of this craft on the Indonesian island of Sumba and will be adding this to their website in the near future. In the meantime here are a few photos to whet your appetite!

 

 

 

 

 

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News: Hali & Cornucopia Ancient and Modern International Research Award

A research award of £1000 is being sponsored by Hali and Cornucopia. This award for original research was initiated by John Carswell after he realised that there were two groups of people who often found it difficult to get grants – those at the beginning of their career and those who are rather more mature in years. For this reason the award is open to candidates from around the globe who are aged under 27 or over 60 at the time of application. The subject matter should fall within the scope of Hali and Cornucopia, which is of course very wide.  Hali covers textiles of every type and all cultures, while Cornucopia specialises in Turkic and Ottoman culture.

It is easy to apply, with no references needed, simply a statement of your age and a brief summary of your project (no more than 500 words), with an emphasis that it would be difficult for you to find funding for the project from any other source.

It’s well worth taking a look at the list of previous winners. The range of subjects they covered is extraordinary and includes:-

Field Study of Fourteenth-Century Underglaze Decorated- Ceramics in Yunnan, South China,

an Inventory of early Anatolian kilims surviving in Ethiopian Orthodox churches,

Research on the tent of Tipu Sultan (1750–99) at Powis Castle and the Tienda de Campana (1535) in Toledo,

and Following Gertrude Bell’s pre-First World War travels around Turkey.

Full details of how to apply can be found here.

Please note that the closing date for applications is 31 March 2019.

 

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News: Textiles from the Silk Road in Museum Collections – Scientific Investigations and Conservation Challenges

 

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 

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!

 

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News: Textile Society of America 2016 Symposium Proceedings Online

 

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!

News: Textile Museum Journal Relaunched

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
Arielle Winnik

Nomad Textile Bags from Central Asia in the 19th and 20th Centuries: Geographic Distribution, Decoration, Semantics
Irina Bogoslovskaya

Through the Renaissance Frame: Carpets and the Beginnings of ‘Islamic Art’ in Nineteenth-Century Vienna and Berlin
Denise-Marie Teece

Pope Innocent VIII’s Mamluk Carpets from Cairo in Context: Their Manufacture and Acquisition
Rosamond E. Mack

Rethinking Mamluk Carpet Origins
Gerald Pollio

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum, Washington DC.

News: Why Did Vikings Have ‘Allah’ Woven into Funeral Clothes?

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.

 

News: World’s Oldest Needle Found in Siberian Cave

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.

News: Spring-cleaning India’s Most Magnificent Tent

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.

News: SADACC Trust Project – India and Pakistan Remembered

sadacc-india-and-pakistan-remembered

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 info@sadacc.co.uk 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.

News: OATG is on Facebook!

Facebook Page 21.07.16

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!