Article: Diversity and Exquisiteness – Examples of Three Asian Textile Sample Books

 

 

In this article Andrijana Sajic, Senior Book Conservation Coordinator, Thomas J. Watson Library (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) discusses three Asian textile sample books from their Special Collections.

The first of these is Japanese Textiles, whose accordion structure allows readers to see either side of the book because they are mounted on the front and back of the boards. Based on the thickness and patterns of the samples, the textiles were used for mounting hanging scrolls. The book could have belonged to an individual scroll maker or studio, and been used as a personal record or a commercial reference guide. While little is known about this sample book, it is certain that these beautiful, thin, woven silks, with their extraordinary motifs, metallic threads, and metallic leaf applications, are remarkable samples of cloth.

Another Japanese textile sample book is Nippon Hand Weaves in Kusakizome Dyes, published in 1959 by Akira Yamazaki. Unlike the Japanese Textiles book, this book contains detailed information about its function and maker’s intentions. It is a collection of twenty-six plant-dyed, handwoven textiles that were specifically made for this book and created, as the author states in the introduction, to “transmit the wealth of the past.” This elegant structure contains information about each cloth sample and plant used in the dyeing process, and also about the materials used in the construction of the book.

The textile sample book Balai Penelitian Batik, which has an unknown date of production, was created by the Ministry of the Industry of People of Jogjakarta and Batik Research Centre. Unlike the two other books presented here, this is a manual that leads the viewer through steps in batik production, in both English and Indonesian. Each page contains a sample of treated cloth, a brief description of the process, and an illustrative photograph.

The information in the introduction does not explain the institution’s intention in creating this manual. However, this publication clearly captures the complex, time-consuming process of batik production and educates readers through didactic samples that illustrate the wax-resist dyeing technique with copper stamps. Descriptions are brief and factual, and samples are the focal point of the page. The viewer is invited, through nine consecutive cloth samples, to see and feel the transformation of pure starched white cloth into a finished batik design, a sample of which is adhered to the front cover of the book.

To read the full article click here

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Event: World Textile Day – Central England

Event Date: – 2 June 2018 10:00-16:30, Banbury.

The World Textile Day team write: Arriving in King’s Sutton two years ago, how could we have known that Oxfordshire would turn out to be such hotbed of world textile fans? – We at the Oxford Asian Textile Group are certainly among them!

In 2018 World Textile Day Central is shaping up to be really something. Focusing on the theme Working Together, the SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER will be Chris Spring, curator of the British Museum’s Africa collection. Chris will speak on Social Fabric: Textiles and Teamwork in East and Southern Africa. There will also be a Fair Trade Market showcasing a wide variety of textiles.

Free parking available on site!

For more details visit the World Textile Day website

Exhibition: Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha

Exhibition Dates: 9 December 2017 – 10 June 2018

Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha unites the only sixth- and seventh-century, life-size Chinese lacquer buddha sculptures known: one from the Walters Art Museum, one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and one from the Freer Gallery of Art. They have never been exhibited together before.

The exhibition explores how the sculptures were made, giving new insights into these deceptively simple objects. It also highlights how science can contribute to understanding art. The Freer|Sackler Department of Conservation and Scientific Research’s experts used specialised equipment and new methods to analyse the sculptures, exposing microscopic details. Find out what tree species the lacquer came from, what type of burnt bone was mixed in, and other unexpected discoveries.

The amount of detailed background information given on the Freer|Sackler website is amazing. The essay by Donna Strahan and Blythe McCarthy on the construction of the buddha sculptures is particularly fascinating.

They discovered that pieces of wood wrapped in textiles which had been dipped in lacquer were used as a support inside some of the buddhas. The fibres from all four sculptures were identified by polarised light microscopy as bast fibres with crystalline nodes. The fibres’ colours further identified them as hemp when examined under polarised light.

A textile dated to between 1272 and 1284 also features in the essay on Lacquer, Relics, and Self-Mummification by Denise Patry Leidy.

For more information visit the website of the Freer|Sackler museum, Washington DC.

Exhibition: Resists – exploring resist-dyed textiles across cultures

 

Exhibition dates: 25 April – 13 December 2018, Leeds, UK

‘Resist dyeing’ or ‘resist patterning’ are terms used to encompass a wide variety of techniques through which fabric is decorated by allowing dyestuff to only come into contact with selected areas of either the yarn or the fabric’s surface. Variants of such techniques are found universally, but for this exhibition the emphasis will be on textiles from West Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Japan and Indonesia.

The exhibition will identify the principal resist-dyeing techniques, and the characteristics of the resultant products.  Techniques displayed will include batik, ikat, resist block-printing, stencils, tie-dye and other stitched techniques.  It will present examples of ajrakh, English Wax, katagami and shibori.

The exhibition will draw from items within the ULITA collection, particularly showcasing two relatively recent significant collections to come to ULITA, including one from OATG member Hywel Coleman. This is a substantial loan collection of batiks, ikats and weaves. Its greatest strengths are textiles from South Sulawesi, Bali, and West and East Nusa Tenggara.

For more information visit the website of ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles

 

Event: Atayal Weavers of Taiwan Demonstration

Event dates: 11 May 2018 and 12 May 2018, British Library, London

The Atayal people of Taiwan are known for their ancient textile-weaving traditions. Join weavers Shu-li Lin and Hsiu-yu Chen for workshops and demonstrations exploring Atayal weaving techniques. This event is part of London Craft Week and has been organised in association with the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan.

Weaver Shu-li Lin is based in Miaoli County, Taiwan. She studied the Atayal tradition of dyeing and waving from the elders in her community, preserving their traditional weaving skills and techniques.  Combining Atayal dyeing skills with modern design elements in colour, texture and practice, her work explores environmental protection and sustainability.

Hsiu-yu Chen started weaving 12 years ago with hook and loom as a way to connect to her heritage and understand the experiences of the Atayal people, who made clothes and quilts using this method. The process of collecting the raw material, ramie, and then harvesting, cutting and peeling it, was deeply ingrained in her memories from childhood.

For further information on this free event visit the website of the London Craft Week

Event: Politics of Collecting Asia: 1800 – Present

 

Event date: 28 April 2018 10:00 – 16:30, London.

The global history of collecting has been profoundly shaped by national and international politics over the past two centuries. Taking geopolitics as its starting point, this symposium will examine the history of collecting Asian art objects in a range of geographical locales, from Britain and continental Europe to East and Southeast Asia.

Topics covered include Competition and Collaboration: Stamford Raffles and Collecting in Java, 1811-1816, The First Private Museum in China? Revisiting Pan Shicheng and His Collecting in Canton, and The Poetics and Politics of Collecting and Displaying Kachin Culture.

Online registration is essential for this SOAS School of Art event and further details can be found here

Event: Resist-patterning – tradition and trade

 

 

Event date: 24 April 2018, 5:00pm-6:00pm, M&S Company Archive, University of Leeds

ULITA – The University of Leeds International Textiles Archive – presents an evening talk to celebrate the opening of the  Resists: exploring resist-dyed textiles across cultures exhibition.

Researcher, designer and educator Dr Kate Wells discusses the unification of hand, technology and innovation in the history of resist-patterned fabrics across the world. Exploring historical and contemporary resist dye techniques, she will also illustrate the potential of new approaches and procedures to enable the survival and commercial production of resist-patterned fabric.

Following the lecture, an opening reception with refreshments will take place at ULITA (St Wilfred’s Chapel) from 6pm. The reception is drop-in, no need to book.

Further information and the link to book for the lecture can be found at the ULITA website here

Exhibition: A Taste for the Exotic – European Silks of the 18th Century

 

 

Exhibition dates: 29 April – 11 November 2018

Glamorous fashion in the eighteenth century entailed first and foremost wearing lavishly patterned silks. While the cuts of both ladies’ gowns and men’s attire scarcely changed, new fabric pattern collections came out regularly. Several trends developed. Common to all is a preference for strange-looking motifs and extravagant compositions redolent of exotic worlds. The textile designers who created them were clearly inspired by much sought-after wares imported to Europe by sea from the Near and Far East.

The new exhibition at the Abegg-Stiftung, near Bern, Switzerland,  presents a selection of these brightly coloured silks decorated with chinoiseries or with “bizarre” motifs, as the fantastical designs defying description are now known. The show also includes silks with exotic fruits and plants that were hardly known in Europe at the time, as well as some with intricate patterns reminiscent of oriental ornamentation. The textiles on view in this special exhibition represent a union of exquisite materials, astonishing creativity and technical accomplishment – a fascinating combination that for several decades held sway over genteel society’s taste in fashion.

For more information visit the website of the Abegg-Stiftung

Exhibition: Fabricating Power with Balinese Textiles

Exhibition dates: 23 February – 8 July 2018

 

 

Western scholars and artists converged on the tropical island of Bali, Indonesia, in the first half of the 20th century attracted by its unique culture and vibrant artistic practices. This exhibition considers the making and use of textiles as ceremonial objects that operate within a unique Balinese Hindu cosmology while exploring the role of textiles as symbols of cultural resilience and continuity.

On view will be exquisite and rare pieces assembled from collections in the United States, including examples from the American Museum of Natural History that were collected by anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson during their fieldwork in Bali. Deriving their aesthetic and ritual powers from techniques of fabrication and use in various lifecycle ceremonies, these textiles also serve as records of an important period in Balinese history.

Drawing on information from the 1930s and recent research, the exhibition presents an overview of Balinese textiles and encourages visitors to consider the value of these objects as they are made and used today.

For more information visit the website of the Bard Gallery, New York

Textile Tidbits: Asian Textile Studies – Update

 

OATG members David and Sue Richardson have just uploaded a new section on Lau Wuti Kau – tubeskirts from the island of Sumba decorated with shells – to their website, Asian Textile Studies.

This is very comprehensive and covers the history and distribution of shell decoration throughout the area, how they were used, and of course the fascinating motifs created using shells. They hope you enjoy reading it here