Exhibition: Textiles from Sumba, Indonesia

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Exhibition dates: this is an online exhibition, available to view indefinitely

A special exhibition of textiles from Sumba, curated by HALI contributing editor Thomas Murray and drawing from his extensive collection, is available to view online. It begins:

“The island of Sumba may be found on a map between Bali and New Guinea but it exists in its own world, far apart from those antipodal lands. Divided east and west by language and environmental conditions, the west tends to be more wet and green and the east, dryer.

Sumbanese religion, Marapu, recognizes that a dualistic symmetry exists in the universe, that of male and female, hot and cold, sun and moon, cloth and metal. Here there are good and bad spirits hovering nearby, needing ritual offerings on a regular basis. The ancestors must most especially be cared for.

Sumba is thus home to one of the strongest animistic tribal societies found in Indonesia, perhaps most famous for its notorious custom of cutting off the heads of enemies and placing them on the branches of a designated tree, the pohon andung, at the entrance of the village. Such trees represented the Tree of Life as well as serving to remind viewers of the power of the raja.

Sumba has a rich megalithic heritage, featuring giant stone tomb memorials. Sumbanese houses, particularly the customary houses found in royal villages, known as rumah adat, are understood to be cosmic diagrams, with the underworld of the animals below, the mid-level for human habitation and the high roof being the realm of the ancestors. This is also the place where the pusaka heirloom treasures are stored, to be closer to the departed souls; precious gold jewelry and fabulously rare and beautiful textiles were kept just under the peak of the roof on both sides of the island. But the art of weaving and dyeing achieved greatest heights in the east, with ikat textiles adding bright colors to the dusty brown background of this, the dry side of the island.”

To view the exhibition, visit Thomas Murray’s website.

Event: Conference: Cloth and Costume in Ethnographic Museums – New Directions in Research, Care and Interpretation 

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Event dates: 6–7 April 2017

The Museum Ethnographers Group Annual Conference 2017 will address cloth and costume. Cloth is a unique technology: light and flexible but presenting large surfaces and capable of taking innumerable colours and structures, it covers and divides things, reveals and connects them. Clothing and costuming the body, to protect and conceal it, to make it beautiful or terrifying, to transform or display its many identities – bring persons and statuses into the performed social world. Since remote prehistory, cloth and costume have both created demands and opportunities for humans to devise many of our most ingenious, delicate and technically complicated artefacts.

From Inuit gut parka to ancient Nazca textiles, traditional West African grand boubou costume to Masai beadwork, Scottish plaid to Italian tapestries, Persian rugs to Indian sari to Balinese dance masks, Bismarck Archipelago masquerade puppets to Samoan barkcloth lavalava; the cloth and costume in our World Cultures collections are immensely rich, diverse and culturally significant. In recent centuries, cloth and costume have also become important material sites for the contestation of identities and moralities, economic globalisation and colonial acculturation. From the worldwide trade in European mill-woven chemically dyed and printed textiles, to the battles of Christian missionaries with imagined states of immoral native undress, to the recent conflict between the French government and wearers of the hijab and burkini, the globalisation of Western dress convention has powerfully impacted the world’s other material cultures.

How, then, do we weave together these many strands in the ethnographic museum? What is the current state of research into world cultures’ cloth and costume collections, and what new approaches are we developing to understand them better? How are historical textiles and costume being curated in the world’s museums, and reimagined in the world’s contemporary art scenes? Are we engaging with contemporary world fashion or trapped in perpetuating stereotypical imaginings of an ‘authentically dressed’ ethnographic past that may never have existed? How can we manage these challenging objects better? What are the particular conservation problems of ethnographic textiles and costume, and how can we better care for them in the future? How are we exhibiting cloth and clothing in 2017? Are we capitalising on costume’s universal appeal in our display and education programmes?

Titles and 200-word abstracts for papers addressing these and other questions are warmly welcomed. Two standard formats are offered to presenters: a full conference paper to last twenty minutes, and a shorter ten-minute presentation on work in progress. Please email your proposed title, abstract and format choice (or any queries) to andrew.mills@glasgow.ac.uk by Monday 6 February.

Booking for the 2017 conference is now open. Tickets can be purchased through the Eventbrite site.

For more information, visit the website of the Museum Ethnographers Group.

Exhibition: Hmong Songs of Memory, Hmong Threads of Life

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Exhibition dates: 16 December 2016 – 30 April 2017

Hmong Songs of Memory, Hmong Threads of Life, an absorbing multi-media exhibition of photographs, film, artefacts and textiles amassed by researcher and musician Victoria Vorreiter, offers visitors the opportunity to explore the age-old music, ceremonies and beliefs of the mountain-dwelling Hmong of Southeast Asia. The event, which marks the launch of Vorreiter’s book and ethnographic film, Hmong Songs of Memory: Traditional Secular and Sacred Hmong Music, will especially highlight collections of Hmong musical instruments and Hmong clothing representing four subgroups.

The exhibition is being held at Tamarind Village, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

For more information, visit the Tribal Music Asia website.

Exhibition: Layers of Influence – Unfolding Cloth across Cultures

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Exhibition dates: 17 November 2016 – 9 April 2017

From birth to death, humans are wrapped in cloth worn for survival, but more importantly, wear clothing as an external expression of their spiritual belief system, social status and political identity. This stunning exhibition will explore clothing’s inherent evidence of human ingenuity, creativity and skill, drawing from the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology’s textile collection — the largest collection in western Canada — to display a global range of materials, production techniques and adornments across different cultures and time frames.

Curated by Dr Jennifer Kramer (Vancouver Museum of Anthropology Curator, Pacific Northwest), Layers of Influence will entrance visitors with large swaths of intricate textiles often worn to enhance the wearer’s prestige, power and spiritual connection, including Japanese kimonos, Indian saris, Indonesian sarongs, West African adinkra, adire and kente cloth, South Pacific barkcloth, Chinese Qing dynasty robes, Indigenous Northwest coast blankets, Maori feather cloaks and more.

A sumptuous feast for the eyes, the exhibition is an aesthetic and affective examination of humanity’s multifaceted and complex history with cloth and its ability to amplify the social, political and spiritual influence of the wearer as a functional expression of self-identity.

For more information, visit the website of the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada.

Exhibition: Striking Patterns – Global Traces in Local Ikat Fashion Design

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Exhibition dates: 21 October 2016 – 26 March 2017

In eastern Indonesia and Timor-Leste people wear hand-woven, decorative ikat cloths as a mark of prestige and to flaunt their taste for fashion at festive events. Ikat is a form of art in which the yarn is tied and dyed – the Indonesian term ‘ikat’ means ‘to tie’ – before weaving. Woven into the patterns are myths, rituals, recent historical events, imported motifs as well as new fashion trends. Ever since they began producing ikat, weavers have incorporated foreign influences. Relying on old pieces from the museum’s exceptional collections as well as new cloths, including contemporary interpretations by Ito Joyoatmojo and Susi Kramer, the exhibition Striking Patterns: Global Traces in Local Ikat Fashion illuminates the development of the tradition, illustrating how these highly skilled weavers have already long been part of the process of globalization.

Become enthralled by beautiful shoulder cloths, hip wraps and sarongs! This exhibition unfolds a sea of flowers. In particular, the Indian eight-pointed flower features in almost endless variations, accompanied by a rain of European roses. Animals populate the cloths, just as tourists do. We also find Catholic motifs in the shape of crucifixes and angels, while synthetic yarns and bright
colours lend some of the exhibits a radiant touch of modern fashion.

This exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, published in German and English.

For more information, visit the website of the Museum der Kulturen, Basel, Switzerland.

Event: Talismanic Textiles from the Islamic World – A Talk by Dr Francesca Leoni

Event date: Friday 9 December 2016, 2.30 pm 

Dr Francesca Leoni is the Yousef Jameel Curator of Islamic Art and a Research Associate at the Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford. She is the curator of the exhibition Power and Protection, Islamic Art and the Supernatural currently on display at the Ashmolean (showing until 15 January 2017). In her talk for the OATG, Dr Leoni will focus on the talismanic textiles included in the exhibition.

Location: Ashmolean Museum Education Centre, Oxford.

Admission is free for members, £3 for non-members. Registration is essential.

For more information, and to book your place at this event, please RSVP on the Eventbrite page, or contact the OATG events organisers (oatg.events@gmail.com).

The exhibition Power and Protection can be visited afterwards until 5 pm. Find more information on the exhibition here.

Event: Deeper than Indigo – Jenny Balfour Paul speaks at the Pitt Rivers Museum

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Event date: Wednesday 16 November, 6 pm

Jenny Balfour Paul (of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University) will give an illustrated account of her adventures in the heartlands of India’s Raj, Polynesia, the South China Seas and Arabia, in search of Thomas Machell, indigo planter and explorer, whose remarkable journals she found in the British Library.

This event promises to be quite popular.  The maximum capacity of the Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Room is 70 and, rather than have to turn people away on the evening, the Friends of the Pitt Rivers have decided to set up a booking system.  Tickets are free of charge, but you do need to reserve your place.

Location: Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Room, Oxford

To book your free place at this event, visit the Eventbrite booking page.

Event: World Textile Day – Bristol

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Event date: Saturday 1 October 2016

Every year at the World Textile Days around the country, the organisers explore a common theme through their free exhibition, and morning and afternoon presentations (only £2 per session). In 2016, their world textile experts will focus on the role of textiles in birth, marriage and death around the world.

FREE admission to our exhibition of stitched, embroidered and woven textiles and artefacts from around the world.

FAIR TRADE – Worldwide fair trade textile, directly from the makers.

Plus:

  • 11 am presentation. Diane Gaffney – A Matter of Life and Death: Batik and Ikat in Indonesian Life.
  • 2 pm Show & Tell. Bring and discuss your own textile with one of our world textile experts. Plus: two short talks.
  • £2 per session, tickets at the door.

With these specialist world textile traders:

  • Textile Traders
  • The African Fabric Shop
  • John Gillow
  • Slow Loris Textiles – Martin Conlan
  • Tukuru Textiles from South America – Meri Hunneyball
  • Añañuca Chilean Textiles – Liz Beasley

Delicious refreshments courtesy of our hosts Saltford Community Association. Disabled access. Free parking. Stations – Keynsham, Bristol Temple Meads, Bath.

Venue: Saltford Hall, Wedmore Road, Saltford, Bristol, BS31 3BY.

For more information, visit the World Textile Day website.

Event: World Textile Day – Mundford, Norfolk

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Event date: Saturday 10 September 2016, 10am – 4:30pm

Every year at the World Textile Days around the country, the organisers explore a common theme through their free exhibition, and morning and afternoon presentations (only £2 per session). In 2016, their world textile experts will focus on the role of textiles in birth, marriage and death around the world.

FREE admission to our exhibition of stitched, embroidered and woven textiles and artefacts from around the world.

FAIR TRADE – Worldwide fair trade textile, directly from the makers.

Plus:

  • 11 am presentation. Bob Irwin – Bury Me Well: African funeral textiles and rituals.
  • 2 pm Show & Tell. Bring and discuss your own textile with one of our world textile experts. Plus: two short talks.
  • £2 per session, tickets at the door.

With these specialist world textile traders:

  • Textile Traders
  • The African Fabric Shop
  • John Gillow
  • Slow Loris Textiles – Martin Conlan
  • Susan Briscoe Designs
  • Tanya Byrne – Indian textiles

Delicious refreshments to be confirmed. Disabled access. Free parking. Stations: Brandon and Downham Market.

Venue: Mundford Village Hall, St Leonards Street, Mundford, near Thetford, Norfolk, IP26 5DW.

N.B. There is still another World Textile Day to be held in Bristol this year, so if you’d like to attend this event, but it’s a little too far away, you might still be able to attend the Bristol event instead.

For more information, visit the World Textile Day website.

Exhibition: Woven Power – Ritual Textiles of Sarawak and West Kalimantan

 

College of the Holy Cross - Woven Power

Exhibition dates: 31 August – 14 December 2016

Pua kumbu are magnificent, intricately dyed, hand-loomed cotton ikat textiles once woven as religious objects par excellence by the Iban and the related Dayak peoples who produced them in Southeast Asia. They were said to be full of powerful spirits and designed to be extraordinarily beautiful to attract the attention of the gods and invite them to draw near to human ceremonies. Over decades, emeritus Tufts University engineering professor John Kreifeldt amassed a comprehensive collection of pua kumbu, sungkit wraps and kain kebat skirts from Sarawak and West Kalimantan, with examples from the 1800s to 1940. Kreifeldt is the primary lender and a collaborator on this exhibition at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts; other than a few textiles, most have never been displayed before in any museum.

Fieldwork anthropological essays by curator Susan Rodgers will accompany the exhibition. ‘Woven Power’ is Rodgers’ fifth exhibition of Southeast Asian textiles at Cantor Art Gallery.

For more information, visit the website of the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts, USA.