Event: The Importance of Gifts – Burmese Art and the Vessantara Story

 

Event date: 12 June 2018 13:00-14:00, Oxford UK

Stories of the Buddha’s many lives have long been essential in Burmese art, and occupying pride of place is the tale of Vessantara’s generosity. This talk by Dr Alexandra Green of the British Museum explores these narrative representations and the role they play more broadly in Burmese religious rituals.  This talk is linked to the current exhibition on The Tale of Prince Vessantara, showing in Gallery 29 until September 2018

For further information visit the website of the Ashmolean Museum

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Article: Classes and costumes in traditional Vietnamese society

 

In this article Dr Sud Chonchirdsin discusses class division and its associated costumes, illustrating this with several examples from the British Library. Please note enlarged versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the relevant image.

In traditional Vietnamese society people were divided into four classes, similar to those found in Chinese and other East Asian Confucian societies. The tứ dân, or four social hierarchical classes, were scholars (sĩ), farmers (nông), craftsmen (công) and merchants (thương).

Vietnamese mandarins, both civil and military, were divided into nine grades and each grade was further subdivided into senior and junior levels. High ranking mandarins were distinguished by their official robes in purple or red, colours reserved for their class, while lower ranking officials wore blue robes. Commoners could only wear black, brown or white dyed costumes, as Harry A. Franck, an American travel writer, observed in Tonkin in 1923: “the Tonkinese were dressed in a cinnamon or tobacco-juice colour that suddenly became as universal as black had been further south … the country women, then their men, and finally all the hand-labouring class, took to wearing long cotton cloaks of this reddish brown hue” (Franck 1926: 191).

To read the full article visit the website of the British Library

Article: Weavings from the Land in the Cloud

 

This article by Nurdiyansah Dalidjo and Cassandra Grant looks at the Toraja weavings of  South Sulawesi.

Weaving is an important spiritual activity and is respected by the Toraja people, but only women weave the cloth. They inherit the skills and knowledge taught by their grandmother or mother. From childhood, girls are involved in the fabric-making process, starting with chopping cotton or rolling yarn. Over time they learn the complex stages of weaving.

Initially, Toraja woven fabrics use hand-spun cotton threads and natural dyes grown around gardens and in fields and forests. One of those dyes is the tarum plant that produces an indigo blue. Other dyes use noni roots and turmeric. In the distant past, Toraja also sourced a black coloring using katakante leaves and mud sourced from fields where buffalo were kept. According to a Toraja resident, using mud that was mixed with urine or buffalo dung would help lock in the dye. Woven fabrics that have been coloured through this mud-dyeing process are known as pote, and are worn as headbands or hoods by relatives of the dead as a symbol of mourning.

Woven fabrics also form an important part of the funeral ceremonies. One of the sacred ikat weavings features a bright orange and blue dominant color, and is decorated with rhombuses, arrows, and diamond shapes in geometric patterns. Known alternately as Rongkong and Galumpang, the pattern represents Toraja ancestors but may be known by different names elsewhere.

To read the full article, which also has some beautiful photographs, click here

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

Article: Venerating the past, traditional costume fever grips Thailand

Business is booming for Siri Seatea’s traditional dress shop in Bangkok.

“Out of the 30 years I’ve been running this shop, this is the peak for us,” 53-year-old Siri told Reuters as she stitched a Thai sarong for a client.

History fever is gripping Thailand and a growing number of Thais are wearing traditional dress, a phenomenon encouraged by the junta and the palace, and fuelled by a popular television soap opera.

Among the popular costumes are those worn during the reign of former King Chulalongkorn, known as Rama V, who ruled from 1868 to 1910 and is credited with saving Thailand from Western colonialism.

Television has also played a part.

“Love Destiny”, a soap opera set during the 1656 to 1688 reign of King Narai the Great, has taken Thailand by storm.

Many Thais are visiting the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok, where scenes from “Love Destiny” take place. They pose for “selfies” dressed in traditional garb against the backdrop of the ruins.

To read the full article visit the Reuters website. At the end of the article there is a slideshow of 15 images which can be viewed in full screen.

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: 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