Article: Ainu Culture – Garments and Embroideries of the Ainu People

Image by Keisuke Fukamizu

This article, with text by Kosuke Ide and fantastic photographs by Keisuke Fukamizu, examines the clothing of the Ainu people of Hokkaido island, Japan. Ide explains that hundreds of years ago these were made from the animal skins – there was a reference to them wearing “bird skin” as late as the eighteenth century. Over time they began to use fibres obtained from the inner bark of elm and linden trees to weave their textiles.  The cloth woven from these fibres was known as attush, and was sewn into garments primarily used as work clothing. These garments were decorated with patterns embroidered in cotton. Later, as cotton became cheaper and more accessible, they began to use it for their clothing rather than the attush. However the art of making attush has not died out completely. It is still practised by Rumiko Fujitani, using a traditional backstrap loom.

Ide also interviewed Nobuko Tsuda, who has conducted research on traditional Ainu garment culture and for the past 20 years has served as a curator at the Hokkaido Ainu Centre in Sapporo. I was particularly struck by her appreciation of what she refers tom as the “natural imperfections” of Ainu embroidery done in the traditional way, as opposed to the “perfection” which can be achieved using more modern methods.

The full article, which really does have some wonderful images, can be accessed on the visvim website here. Please note that this does take quite a while to load – presumably because of the quality of the images.

Textiles of Japan by Thomas Murray has recently been published by Prestel and contains over 100 pages on Ainu textiles. This book is already available in Europe and will go on sale in the US from 29 January 2019.

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Exhibition: Kuba – Fabric of an Empire

Exhibition dates: 19 August 2018 – 24 February 2019

This exhibition of dazzling Kuba textiles presented in the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Cone Collection galleries reveals how a central African kingdom independently developed a form of modernist abstraction in the 20th century.

The Kuba kingdom, on the southern edge of the Congolese Rainforest in central Africa, developed one of the greatest civilisations in the history of the continent. Art and design were central to their life. In addition to an elaborate and varied masquerade tradition, Kuba men and women were prolific textile artists, even weaving houses and embroidering currency. As the kingdom grew richer and more powerful, Kuba men and women began to create increasingly abstract designs. Works produced in Kuba’s earlier periods are defined by repeating patterns and minute details. Textiles created at the height of the kingdom’s power and prestige are characterised by bold, inventive designs that are constantly in flux.

An excellent in depth review of this exhibition, entitled A Great African Kingdom Tells Its History In Fabulous Royal Clothes, by Tim McDonnell with many additional images can be found here

For further information on visiting the exhibition see the website of the Baltimore Museum of Art

Event: Turkish Legacy in Anatolian Kilims

Event date: 5 September 2018 at 18:30

 

 

This lecture by Sumru Belger Krody, senior curator at the Textile Museum, Washington DC shows how nomadic Anatolian women, descended from Turkmen nomads, wove colourful, visually stunning kilims that reveal their culture’s aesthetic preferences for decorating their surroundings. Today, these kilims are the only surviving tangible evidence of their makers’ nomadic lifestyle – a poignant legacy given that women generally did not have an external voice in this patriarchal society. The exhibition A Nomad’s Art: Kilims of Anatolia will be open before the talk.

This lecture is free, but reservations are required. For more details of this event held at the Textile Museum, Washington DC, click here

 

Event: Unpicking Woven Heritage – Cultural narratives of handwoven eri silk textiles from Meghalaya, Northeast India

 

 

Event date: Tuesday 4 September 2018 18:00 – 20:00

Anna-Louise Meynell (Centre for Sustainable Fashion, University of the Arts London) has been conducting doctoral research in the remote state of Meghalaya, Northeast India. The research aims to explore and define the cultural heritage of eri silk weaving in the Ri Bhoi District, considering the socio-cultural history, the craft process and the materiality of the product.

Eri silk holds many social narratives of North East India. It is cultivated domestically and known locally as “the poor man’s silk” or “peace silk”, as it does not harm the silkworm in the extraction of the silk. Unlike the continuous filament of the mulberry silk cocoon, the eri cocoon is made up of short staple fibres which require it to be hand spun, resulting in a slubby texture with a dull sheen of silk. It is still almost exclusively dyed with natural dyes and traditionally woven on a simple bamboo floor loom.

The eri silk communities of Meghalaya have been exposed to significant social change and external interventions since pre-colonial times, much of which can be ‘read’ through a study of the textiles and techniques. Anna-Louise will show photos and samples from the archive of eri silk textiles that has been collected during fieldwork – samples that are indicators of tribal migration and assimilation, of colonial influence and widespread conversion from the indigenous Khasi religion to Christianity.  

For further details and booking click here

This Oxford Asian Textile Group event will take place at the Pauling Centre, Oxford.

Event: In Celebration of the Sarong

 

Event dates: 10 – 13 August 2018

To mark the auspicious occasion of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 86th Birthday, the Sanjai Saiyai Phasin Club is organising the fourth Annual Sarong Festival to promote woven fabrics from all regions of Thailand. The event will be held from August 10 to 13 from 10am to 10pm at The Street Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok.

“We will bring woven fabrics from all over the country to salute Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and to also preserve and support Thai handicrafts in line with royal aspirations,” said the club’s president Nayada Amatavanich.

“The event will also feature talks by many famous Thai Fabric designers, among them Thanit Phoomsawai, a well-known designer from the drama “Buppesanniwas”, Wasin Oonjanam costume designer of the drama “Nakaraj”, artists who have created and rewoven fabric patterns such as Terdsak Insaeng, Pairat Sararat, Jongjarun Manakam and Suriya Wongchai, as well as additional Thai fabric experts from different regions. And we will demonstrate how to wear a sarong in various forms.”

In partnership with Feature Co Ltd, the club will also unveil a precious publication on woven textiles in Thailand.

Sanjai Saiyai Phasin Club was established on December 5, 2017 with the objective of preserving and promoting Thai sarong and woven textiles in all regions. It currently has more than 17,000 members.

 

Article: Lotha Weaving in Nagaland India

 

The Lotha Naga in Longsa village, Wokha District, Nagaland, weave lotha – vividly coloured, geometrically patterned shawls that when worn, denote a man or woman’s social status in the community. The weaving of shawls, scarves and sarongs is done exclusively by women on loin or body tension looms, which are commonly used throughout northeast India. The Naga loom consists of a simple back-strap with a continuous horizontal warp. Basic tools such as warp beams, lease rods, healed sticks and beating swords are fashioned from debris, making the loom inexpensive and highly portable.

Cotton, wool and increasingly, rayon are all used for weaving the long, narrow shawls. Stripes, squares and bands of black, red and white colour are typically used; some designs are woven over with patterns depicting animals or human figures, symbolised by a circular shape. The finished lotha is warp-dominant and has a ribbed texture.

To read the full article and watch a short video on Lotha weaving visit the website of The Textile Atlas here

Event: Sumba – Island of the Ancestors

Event date: Thursday 19 July, 6-7:45pm

OATG members David and Sue Richardson first visited the Indonesian island of Sumba in 1991. They have since returned many times, drawn back by its fascinating culture and fabulous textiles.

This talk will briefly cover the history and ethnography of Sumba, before focussing on its weaving culture. Textiles are fundamental to life on this island, being used extensively in bridewealth exchanges, for settling disputes, and for funerals. Two main techniques are used – supplementary warp and warp ikat. It can take many months just to do the binding for one of the ikat cloths, with some requiring up to 20,000 separate knots.

David and Sue will also be showing some wonderful examples from their extensive collection – including textiles made by members of the Sumbanese Royal families.

Location: The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS.

Time: 6pm for a 6:15 start

OATG events are free for members and £3 payable on the door for non-members. Advance booking is recommended.

Should you require disabled access, please do get in touch beforehand to make sure adequate provisions can be made.

For more information, and to book a place at this event, visit the Eventbrite page.

Exhibition: The Boteh Of Kashmir And Paisley – The Signature From The Most Revered Cloths Of Creation

 

 

Exhibition dates: 29 June 2018 – 2 February 2019

This exhibition looks at the development of the boteh motif and Paisley shawl from the late sixteenth to the late nineteenth century. Designs in the Mughal period were based on naturalistic forms and flowering plants, evolving into an increasingly symbolic style. This was followed by the cone shape and then with the elongated forms following a stylised representation of the boteh. Lots of information can be found in the exhibition catalogue here

For more information visit the website of the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles Berkeley, California

 

Event: A Revolution in the Bedroom – How Indian dyed cottons transformed Europe’s interiors in the 17th and 18th centuries

 

Event date: Friday 29 June 2018 at 18:00, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Brightly coloured, washable Indian cotton fabrics revolutionised the décor of bedrooms and living-rooms of western households as soon as they were introduced in the 17th century.

Join Indian textiles specialist Rosemary Crill for a fascinating look at how the hybrid designs of these chintz fabrics, with their exotic flowers and trees, fed into the 18th-century craze for Chinoiserie, and how they became a staple element of western design vocabulary.

For more information visit the website of the Royal Ontario Museum

 

 

Exhibition: Weaving New Worlds

 

Exhibition dates: 16 June – 23 September 2018

“This is not a story of genteel craft work.” – Lesley Millar (curator) on the new exhibition at the William Morris Gallery, London.

This is certainly true of the diptych of Kim Jong Un by Pat Taylor, and Bandages by Mari Meen Halsoy, a Norwegian artist living in Beirut.

The old buildings of Beirut still carry holes left by bullets and shells during 15 years of civil war in Lebanon, and many of its people have matching psychological wounds. Halsoy is attempting to heal both through her work.

The project, installed by Mari Meen Halsøy at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, north-east London, recreates the wall of a shattered building known as the Yellow House. The building is located on the former “green line” that divided Christian east Beirut and Muslim west Beirut during the 1975-90 war.

At first glance the work combines beautiful pieces of traditional tapestry, some as small as postage stamps, which are dyed in muted shades of grey, blue and ochre. In fact, each has been precisely matched in size, shape and colour to a hole left in the Yellow House wall by bullets or shells, many of which took human lives. Each tapestry is made from a tracing on cotton fabric taken directly from the wall’s surface.

Tapestries have always told stories. In this exhibition 16 women artists from the UK, USA, Norway, Canada, New Zealand and Japan weave the stories of our time: the possibilities, the hopes and lost chances. Using the traditional hand woven tapestry techniques that connect us to the past, they have taken contemporary images and events, personal dreams and feelings. The tapestries range in subject matter, from reflections of rural mythologies, to floods and urban decay. Always at the heart of the work is the human condition, the artists offering us both a utopian and dystopian view – the choice is ours.

For further information on the exhibition visit the website of the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, London.

To read more about the Bandages installation click here