Textile Tidbits: Kate Middleton’s Asian Textiles – An Endorsement of Slow Fashion

© Press Association

© Press Association

Today’s Textile Tidbit gives a slightly different perspective to Asian textiles from usual!

During her recent visit to Bhutan, Kate Middleton has been pictured wearing Bhutanese national dress, with a hand-embroidered cape made in India, demonstrating her support for responsibly sourced, ethically produced clothing. The silk ‘kira’ that she is pictured wearing above – a traditional Bhutanese dress – would have taken five people three months to weave by hand.

To read about this in more detail, visit the Telegraph website.

Textile Tidbits: Learning to Weave the Kutchi Way

Travels in Textiles - Learning to Weave the Kutchi Way

Today’s Textile Tidbit is a link to a textile designer and researcher’s blog post all about her experience of learning to weave in Kutch, Gujarat. The Travels in Textiles blogger spent three weeks in India last December learning about all the steps involved in the process of weaving traditional textiles and it’s a fascinating read. Click here to read her blog post.

Somaiya Kala Vidya is the organisation that offers courses in traditional textile crafts in Kutch, including weaving, block printing, batik, embroidery and many others. It looks like a fabulous place to learn, surrounded by expert artisans. I think I would like to go for a whole year and study everything!

 

 

 

Textile Tidbits: Taming the Dragons on a Chinese Imperial Dragon Robe

CBL C 1051, detail

The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland, recently published a blog post all about the process of conserving a Chinese imperial dragon robe. It makes for fascinating reading, and includes lots of detailed photographs of the initial analysis of the textile and the subsequent conservation work involved.

Sir Alfred Chester Beatty collected eight Chinese dragon robes; it is thought that several came from the Forbidden Palace in Beijing. These magnificent robes were once worn by the emperors of the Qing Dynasty, 1644–1911, the last ruling dynasty of China. The robes tell a story of a vanished court life and were worn for important rituals as well as everyday occasions.

Over the last few years, a rolling programme of conservation has been undertaken to conserve all the dragon robes within the collection, to allow an annual rotation to coincide with the library’s celebration of the Chinese New Year. For anyone thinking of planning a visit, the dragon robe case is in the first floor ‘Arts of the Book’ exhibition gallery.

The blog focuses on the conservation of one of the three imperial yellow robes, which are of the highest quality yellow silk and feature exquisite embroidery.

To read more about this conservation work, visit the blog of the Chester Beatty Library conservation team.

Textile Tidbits: Mounting a Tahitian Mourner’s Costume

Pitt Rivers Museum - Mounting a Tahitian Mourner's Costume

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford recently shared a blog post all about the work involved in mounting an elaborate eighteenth-century Tahitian mourning costume, ready for display. This enormous many-layered outfit, made mostly of barkcloth, but with additional decoration made from feathers and shells, forms part of the museum’s new Cook Voyage display case.

Best of all, the blog includes a stop-motion video of the mounting process, so you can watch how the whole thing was put together. It makes fascinating viewing!

To read the full blog post, and to watch a video of this costume being assembled on the mount, visit the Pitt Rivers’ Museum’s Conserving ‘Curiosities’ blog.

Textile Tidbits: SADACC’s Object of the Month – Patchwork Snakes and Ladders

SADACC - Snakes and Ladders textile

It’s now a little late in the month, but there’s been quite a deluge of wonderful textile material for the blog recently, and I wanted to share SADACC’s wonderful object of the month with you before it’s too late. (Some of you may have seen this already if you subscribe to the SADACC newsletter – apologies for reposting if so.)

Sap sidi (snakes and ladders) is a popular game in Jain, Hindu and Muslim cultures. Snakes and Ladders originated in India, possibly as early as the second century BC. Early versions were known as Moksha-Patamu (heaven and hell) and the game works on the principle of good versus evil.

Cloth games have been made since the Mogul era and are often included in a girl’s dowry. The board is a miniature patchwork quilt of vegetable-dyed fabric. It was made by female artisans in Kutch, Gujarat. These women are descendants of a nomadic tribe from Nagar Parkar, in the Sindh region of Pakistan. Elderly women typically turn to patchwork from embroidery when their eyesight begins to fade.

For more information, visit the website of the South Asian Decorative Arts & Crafts Collection (SADACC), Norwich.

Textile Tidbits: Historical Photographs from Thomas Murray’s Collection

T. Murray - Historic Photos

Today’s Textile Tidbit is re-sharing a link to some fantastic photographs that Pamela, OATG’s website manager, recently shared on her Tribal Textiles forum. US-based textile dealer and HALI editor, Thomas Murray, has made available several hundred (or possibly thousand?) historical photographs, mostly of southeast Asian textiles, on his website. The photos were taken by a number of different photographers, but all are now in Murray’s collection, and he has scanned and uploaded them to the web. The image above is of an exhibition at the Tropen Museum from the Laurens Langewis collection. I highly recommend browsing through some of these pictures for yourself.

To see more of these wonderful photographs, visit Thomas Murray’s website.

Textile Tidbits: Eiluned Edwards Interview about Indian Block Prints

Aesthetica - Eiluned Edwards interview on Block Printed Textiles

This Textile Tidbit is an interview with OATG member Eiluned Edwards, who has curated the exhibition ‘Imprints of Culture’ at Bonington Gallery, Nottingham Trent University, in which she explores the contemporary production and use of Indian block prints.

Like few other objects, block prints embody richly diverse histories that have been shaped by trade, conquest and colonisation, technological innovation and entrepreneurship. The exhibition shows how block printing, one of India’s foremost crafts, has not only played a role in the ritual life of the subcontinent but also in the creation of visual identity. Integral to caste dress and modern urban style, block prints have been a significant source of revenue through centuries of domestic and international trade. The show includes block prints from leading centres of the craft in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, and includes traditional designs as well as innovations. It has been developed in collaboration with block printers in these areas as well as fashion designer, Aneeth Arora.

To read the interview on the Aesthetica Magazine website, click here.

Textile Tidbits: New Website on Asian Textiles

David & Sue Richardson - Asian Textile Studies

OATG members David and Sue Richardson have just launched a brand new website this week: Asian Textile Studies. It is designed for those with a serious interest in traditional hand-woven Asian textiles, and thus should appeal to the vast majority of the OATG membership.

They have been working on this material for the last few years and have just uploaded the first pages, which focus on the subject of natural dyeing. Much more content will be added over time. They are inviting you to take a look, and to share this resource among the wider textile community.

The web address is: www.asiantextilestudies.com Have an explore and see what you find – there’s already a considerable amount of content.

Thanks for sharing this detailed information, David and Sue!

Textile Tidbits: Textile Identification Challenge

Today’s textile tidbit is a little bit different. I’ve been contacted by Amy Chang, Collection Curator at SADACC (South Asian Decorative Arts & Crafts Collection Trust) in Norwich, who wondered if any of our members or blog readers might be able to help identify this textile.

Can you help identify this textile?

Can you help identify this textile?

 She says: ‘The textile belongs to a visitor whose grandmother was the first to own it in their family. It is roughly one metre square, and is decorated all over with metal thread embroidery and fine chain stitch.

We are not sure whether it is indeed Asian in origin, but her grandparents had spent time in India, and the embroidery stitches are similar to those seen on other items in our collection. However the colours and motifs are not familiar to us. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Detail of the centre

Detail of the centre

If you have any suggestions as to the origins of this textile, or if you’ve seen one like it before, please leave a comment on this blog post (below) or email Amy directly at info@sadacc.co.uk. Thank you!

Detail of stitching

Detail of stitching and metal thread work

I’m hopeful that together we can help to identify this textile! I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas.

Textile Tidbits: Weavers’ Stories from Island Southeast Asia

Textile Tidbit - Weavers' Stories from Island Southeast Asia

This Textile Tidbit comes from OATG member and web manager, Pamela Cross.

A while ago, I was pointed in the direction of a series of eight fascinating videos on the website of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. The second interview with a weaver from Timor Leste was particularly recommended to me and I thoroughly agreed. It is very moving with great filming and English subtitles, and gives a real connection to the meaning of a textile. The film on Ndona, Flores is also excellent. It shows the tying of ikat, the dyeing and weaving … and so much more. I found the films to be quite compulsive!

The press release on the exhibition (curated by Roy Hamilton, the Fowler Museum’s curator of Asian and Pacific collections) to which the videos relate, says:

‘In Weavers’ Stories from Island Southeast Asia, weavers and batik artists speak for themselves in videos produced at eight sites in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and East Timor. What motivates women to create new patterns? How do they adjust to changing social and economic situations?

‘A panoply of human emotions and experiences – determination, longing, dream inspiration, theft, war and more – emerge from the stories of these remarkable women. In one video, for example, a weaver in Tutuala, at the far eastern tip of Timor, describes how she designed a cloth pattern by copying the skin of a snake. She recounts that this “snake cloth”, now served by the snake spirit, became an object of such power that when one was stolen during a militia rampage in 1999, the snake destroyed all the coconut trees in Baucau in revenge. Another weaver tells of learning weaving patterns from her deceased mother, an expert weaver, when her mother visits her in dreams.

‘These seven- to ten-minute oral histories include interesting footage of daily life with extended families and the interplay of generations, detailed looks at weaving and dyeing techniques, and unique celebrations, such as a wedding in a sultan’s palace. Textiles created by the featured weavers and batik makers accompany each video.’

Particularly interesting is the fact that the last video is all about Lang Dulay, a famous weaver from Mindanao in the Philippines, who died earlier this year. You can read more about her in a thread on Pamela’s forum, Tribal Textiles.