Baluch rugs, Filipino textiles, Indian textile labels and Indonesian batik in manuscripts

On Saturday 10 December 2022 a webinar entitled The Intrigue of Baluch Rugs will be jointly hosted by the TMA/SC, NERS and the Textile Museum. The speaker will be DeWitt Mallary, an independent scholar from Vermont, who has written extensively on this subject.

“The set of rugs bought, sold and collected under the catch-all name “Baluch” actually includes the products of a number of weaving groups in different areas of northeast Iran and northwest Afghanistan.


In addition to certain iconic types, there is an uncommon diversity of idiosyncratic, creative mixing of designs and styles. The most exciting examples of Baluch weaving all use outstanding wool, enabling intensely saturated colors. This virtual presentation led by DeWitt Mallary will look at many of the finest examples of Baluch rugs and bags of various types, and discuss what makes them outstanding, letting the objects demonstrate the intrigue of this group of weavings.” – TMA/SC

This free event takes place at 09:00 PT, which is 17:00 GMT, and you can register for it here.

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Baluch lovers may also be interested in this new book by Thomas Cole, From The Land Of The Sun: The Richard Stewart Collection Of Baluch Rugs, Bags & Trappings. It includes over a hundred colour plates, as well as many previously unpublished photographs from the region.

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A reminder that the Fabricating Fashion exhibition at the Art Institute Chicago ends on 02 January 2023. This exhibition “celebrates the artistry and rich legacy of an extraordinary range of fabrics for clothing around the world……. While a number of techniques showcased in this presentation—such as dyeing, embroidery, printing, and weaving—are practiced globally, other materials and methods are more closely associated with particular cultures: Indian cotton, Chinese silk, French embroidery, West African indigo, among them.” – AIC website

Woman’s Adire Wrapper, mid-20th century, Yoruba

A free virtual lecture will take place on Monday 12 December at 14:00 CST, which is 20:00 GMT. Curators Melinda Watt and Monika Bincsik will discuss the strategies they have used in this exhibition “for exhibiting clothing and textiles to highlight that fashion in locations around the globe shows mutual interrelationships”. You can register for it here.

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I’ve blogged previously about the current exhibition at the Ayala Museum in Manila. Intertwined: Transpacific, Transcultural Philippines closes at the end of this month. Next Saturday 10 December will see the launch via Zoom of the exhibition catalogue. This takes place at 17:00 local time, which is unfortunately 01:00 on the 11th GMT. Register for it here.

“The exhibition and its joint publication open up visual and verbal conversations on the complexities and contradictions of Filipino art and identity. By illuminating the Filipino’s transcultural heritage resulting from pre- and post-colonial maritime exchanges with diverse cultures in Asia, America, and Europe, Filipinos can gain a better understanding of our culture and take pride in the excellence we’ve shown throughout history in the arts, diplomacy, entrepreneurship, and the global economy.” – Ayala Museum

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OATG member Fiona Kerlogue has recently written a guest blog for the British Library on the subject of Batik designs in a Javanese manuscript: Serat Damar Wulan. This particular manuscript illustrates scenes of everyday life in Java in the late eighteenth century. In the blog Dr Kerlogue examines the clothes and textiles depicted in Serat Damar Wulan. This is an extract from her new book on the history of batik, entitled Batik: Traces through time, which is illustrated by collections in the National Museum of the Czech Republic. Many of us enjoyed the talk Fiona gave to the OATG about this collection in September, the recording of which is available to members on our website.

Figure 8. Damar Wulan’s servants in short trousers of striped lurik early in the story. Serat Damar Wulan. British Library, MSS Jav. 89, f. 116v
Figure 9. Now ennobled, Damar Wulan’s servants have adopted superior garments, and have servants of their own wearing lurik. Serat Damar Wulan. British Library, MSS Jav. 89, f. 206r 

“The story [in the manuscript] is particularly significant in relation to costume, partly because of the changes in status which the characters undergo and how these are reflected in the clothes they wear……. The central character, Damar Wulan, is a nobleman but is appointed as stable boy to the ruler of Majapahit, and then imprisoned; eventually he himself becomes king of Majapahit. His changes in status are reflected in the clothes he wears; the clothing worn by other actors in the story also indicates their status.” – Fiona Kerlogue

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Finally advance notice of a book that will definitely be on my list. Russian Textiles: Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia has long been a favourite of mine. Its author, Susan Meller, has been working on a new book, which will be published in February 2023, entitled Labels of Empire, Textile Trademarks: Windows into India in the Time of the Raj. With 1285 illustrations of the labels, most of which are in colour, this is sure to be a visual feast.

©Susan Meller

“In the 1880s, when the British textile industry was at its most prosperous to date, much of the world’s population wore at least some article of clothing made from fabric produced in the mills of Lancashire. From 1910 to 1913 alone, more than 8 billion yards of cloth were woven, cut into prescribed lengths, folded, stamped, labeled, and baled. Most of this output was for export–with 40 percent of it shipped to India.

To differentiate their goods, British textile manufacturers pasted illustrated paper labels known as “shipper’s tickets” to the faceplate of each piece of folded cloth sold into the Indian market. Designed, printed, and registered in Manchester, these appealing chromolithographed images drew attention to the offerings of a particular firm–and much like present-day branding, ensured their ongoing notice within the bustling bazaars of India. “ – Susan Meller

Thanks to Chris Martens for reminding me of the works of this author. Do let me know of events and articles to share with other textile lovers!

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Japanese kimonos, Uzbek and Jain textiles

Apologies to those who missed these blogs – I have been travelling in India for several weeks and just didn’t have the time to blog. Hopefully I can manage a couple before Christmas!

Filling shuttles at a rural weaving village in Bihar State

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A new exhibition opened yesterday at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles. Visualizing Devotion: Jain Embroidered Shrine Hangings runs until 26 March 2023 and features devotional textiles from the collection of Ronald and Maxine Linde. These cloths are known as chhoda and tend to be of velvet or sateen, heavily embroidered with religious themes using gold or silver thread.

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Textile lovers able to visit Paris in the next few months are in for a real treat!

Tuesday 22 November 2022 sees the opening of the Kimono exhibition at the Musée du quai Branly. This exhibition of nearly 200 kimonos was designed by the V&A in London, and will run until 28 May 2023.

“At the beginning of the Edo era (1603-1868), it became the traditional garment par excellence, worn by all Japanese, regardless of social status or gender. A golden age that saw the extraordinary development of its production and the birh of a fashion culture, thanks to the infatuation of the entertainment world. Celebrities and trendsetters of the time – kabuki actors in particular – became the first Japanese fashion icons.

Although it timidly reached European shores at the end of the 17th century, it was in the 1850s, with the opening of Japan to foreign trade, that the kimono was exported to the West, fascinated by its exotic character. The enthusiasm generated by its shape and fabrics profoundly and radically transformed fashion on the continent a few decades later. ” – museum website

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On Wednesday 23 November the Louvre is host to The Splendours of Uzbekistan’s Oases, which runs until 6 March 2023. It has been jointly organised with the Art and Culture Development Foundation of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

“A large selection of these masterworks will leave Uzbekistan for the first time and undergo special conservation treatment for the exhibition, including monumental wall paintings from the Ambassadors’ Hall in Samarkand and its surroundings, the pages of one of the oldest monumental Korans from the early days of Islam from Katta Langar, in Sogdiana, and other treasures in gold from Bactria (Dalverzin Tepe), silver, silk, and fine ceramics. The exhibition also showcases several masterpieces from the famous 16th-century miniature paintings of the School of Bukhara.” – museum website

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The same day sees the opening of another exhibition dedicated to Uzbekistan, this time at the Arab World Institute. On the roads of Samarkand: Wonders of silk and gold has also been organised with the help of the same Foundation and will run until 4 June 2023.

“Sumptuous chapan coats and gold-embroidered accessories from the Emir’s court, painted wooden saddles, silver horse harnesses set with turquoises, precious Suzanis embroidered hangings, carpets, silk ikats, jewellery and costumes from the nomadic culture as well as about fifteen orientalist paintiings” will all be on display.


Chapan, 1900-1904, Bukhara. Tashkent, State museum of arts of Uzbekistan (© The Foundation for the development of art and culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan © Laziz Hamani

Textile news

On Saturday 15 October OATG member Louise Shelley will give a webinar hosted by the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California. Her subject is The Dark Side of the Textile Trade: From the Silk Road to Today.

“Throughout history, textiles have always been one of the most valued components of international trade. Therefore, both individuals and states have sought to profit from this trade in both illegal and immoral ways.  The problem of counterfeit products is not new, but was already an issue centuries ago, when British traders flooded the Venetian market with their products labelled “Made in Venice.”  When cochineal was the most valuable product out of the New World, many pirates and traders sought to acquire cochineal and break the Spanish monopoly.  Dr. Shelley will reveal a largely unknown story of crime and often state-sponsored criminal trade.  Her survey of illicit trade will discuss the abuses of the textile trade for both commercial and political objectives.”

The webinar starts at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST, and you can sign up for it here.

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I recently enjoyed an article, written by Kosuke Ide, with photos by Keisuke Fukamizu, which appeared in Subsequence online magazine. It focusses on the Iwatate Folk Textile Museum in Tokyo, and its owner Hiroko Iwatate, who has been collecting textiles for over fifty years and holds three exhibitions each year.

A display at the Iwatate Folk Museum

You can read this beautifully illustrated article here – but be aware it takes a little while to load.

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OATG members Chris Buckley ,Sandra Sardjono and Sarah Fee have all been involved in the production of a new UNESCO book entitled Textiles and Clothing along the Silk Roads. Chris has written a chapter on drawlooms, Sandra on the maritime circulation of textiles in southeast Asia and Sarah on sub-Saharan Africa and global textile exchanges.

This book looks like required reading for all textile enthusiasts and can be viewed and downloaded free of charge through this link.

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The team who run the very successful World Textile Day events around the UK had planned a World Textiles Market last month, but had to postpone it due to the death of Queen Elizabeth. It will now take place on Saturday 29 October at Chipping Norton Town Hall in Oxfordshire. Full details can be found here.

Evenki, Malay, Indian, Indonesian and Afghan textile-related events

A new display has recently been created at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. The subject is Wandering in Other Worlds: Evenki Cosmology and Shamanic Traditions. Through the use of virtual reality headsets, visitors are able to learn more about this “diverse cultural group living across Northern and Central Asia. They are primarily reindeer-herding and hunting people, although in the steppes, Evenki took up horse herding, while in the Arctic, fishing became an important occupation.

Photograph of an Evenki shaman with diur (drum), taken by Maria Czaplicka, 1914-1915

“In 2019, artist Anya Gleizer, researcher Pablo Fernandez Velasco and anthropologist Jaanika Vider journeyed to Evenkia in the Siberian Arctic, retracing the route of an expedition led by anthropologist Maria Czaplicka in 1914–15. Using a VR headset and digital versions of the Museum’s collections, the team hoped to learn more about the objects Czaplicka had brought to Oxford a century before. Swiping through photographs on an iPad and visiting Oxford via the VR headset, locals in Chirinda and Tura shared their stories with them.” Pitt Rivers website

I’m glad to learn this display will be in place until September 2023, as it gives me the chance to read Undreamed Shores – The hidden heroines of British anthropology by Frances Larson, which features the life and work of Maria Czaplicka among others. See this earlier blog for more details.

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OATG members will be delighted to learn that three more talks have been added to the password-protected Members Resources section of our website. This can be found under Events. New members (from the UK and further afield) are always welcome to join this small but growing group of textile enthusiasts. Click here to find out more.

Recordings of these three lectures are now available for OATG members in the Member’s Resources section of our website.

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Thanks go to Sandra Sardjono for alerting me to this webinar, taking place on Thursday 6 October, which has an interesting line-up of speakers. The topic is Safeguarding Textile Heritage and it begins at 19:30 Indian Standard Time, which is 15:00 BST. Click here for more details and to register.

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Lovers of Indonesian textiles who are able to visit Switzerland next month are in for a treat. Collector Georges Breguet, who has written recently for our Asian Textiles journal, is exhibiting some of his cloths from the island of Sumba at Vésenaz near Geneva.

The exhibition will open on Saturday 8 October and close on Sunday 23 October – just a short run so don’t delay.

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Also taking place on 8 October is World Textile Day – South of England. The venue is Brockenhurst Hall in Hampshire and as usual there will be an exciting selection of textiles for sale from a variety of different traders.

John and Joan Fisher of Khayamiya with some of their Egyptian wall hangings.

Entrance is free, but there is a small charge should you wish to attend any of the talks – highly recommended. Click here for further details.

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Saturday 8 October is proving to be a very busy day! The New England Rug Society will host a Zoom talk by Luca Emilio Brancati on the subject of Afghan War Rugs 1979-2022. He will examine how these rugs have developed from the Russian period until now. Dr Brancati is the co-author of this book on the subject, and in 1988 organised the first exhibition of Afghan war rugs .

“The Afghan carpets from Luca Emilio Brancati ‘s Turin collection have the particularity of portraying in their decorations the instruments of war common in Afghanistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion. These rare and extraordinary “textile documents” testify to the vitality of the culture of carpet in Afghanistan and the ability of the local nomadic and village manufacturing, capable of capturing new suggestions for carpet decoration from the environment in which it lives.

The Turin collection on the carpets of the Russo-Afghan war was the first of its kind to be exhibited for the first time thirty years ago in Milan and is the only one consisting of carpets exclusively made before the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan.”

Photo ©La Repubblica. From an exhibition held at the Palazzo Lascaris in Turin.

The talk begins at 13:00 ET, which is 18:00 BST, and you can register for it here.

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On Sunday 9 October John Ang will be giving a Zoom talk for the International Hajji Baba Society on Splendors of Malay World Textiles – the subject of his current exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. The exhibition has seven hundred textiles, divided into twelve major categories, plus textiles from other countries, which relate to these Malay examples.

John with a display of some of his textiles

This article from Malay Mail gives a further insight into John and his collection. The talk takes place at 17:00 EDT, which is 22:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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This Sunday is also the date of the annual Textile Society London Antique and Vintage Textile Fair.

“The Textile Society London Antique Textile Fair offers an outstanding range of vintage fashion, antique textiles and costume sourced from around the world. Textiles from the 18th century up to the swinging 1960s and 70s, furnishings including pre-1950s rugs, and unique fashion accessories can be found here. Visitors can explore the fair for secondhand books, ephemera and advice on textile conservation.

Whether a textile designer or student looking for design inspiration, a collector looking for a unique addition, or just a visitor wanting to browse beautiful materials and objects, this fair cannot be missed.” Textile Society website.

A selection of textiles that will be available from Slow Loris. ©Martin Conlan

The location is Chelsea Old Town Hall on the Kings Road SW3 5EZ. The Fair is open to the general public from noon, but early entry from 10:00 is available to Trade, Early Bird ticket holders and Textile Society members. Click here for more details.

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Textile events and articles featuring Indonesia, the Philippines, Kazakhstan and Ukraine

The next OATG talk takes place this Thursday, 29 September 2022, so you don’t have long left to register for it!

The speaker is Fiona Kerlogue, who was a lecturer at the University of Jambi in Sumatra and later Deputy Keeper of Anthropology at the Horniman Museum. She is now a Research Associate at SOAS, has published widely on the arts of Southeast Asia . This is sure to be a fascinating talk by an acknowledged expert in her field. Her subject for this particular talk is Translating textiles: The Indonesian collections of Josef Šrogl.

Náprstek Museum collection

“Museum collections in Europe contain large numbers of textiles brought back from various parts of Asia by travellers and European overseas residents, who collected them in a variety of circumstances, not often recorded in the museum documentation. Family correspondence held in the Náprstek Museum, [National Museum], Prague, from one such collector, Josef Srogl, who was collecting in the Dutch East Indies between 1895 and 1922, was passed to the museum at the same time as much of his collection, providing insights into the journey through which the textiles passed. Many of the perspectives of the collector, information about the available sources, insights into his criteria for selection and his thoughts about the intended uses for the textiles are revealed.” This Zoom talk will take place on Thursday 29 September at 18:30 BST.

It is free for OATG members, but there is a small charge for non-members. You can find more details and register for it here.

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The next World Textile Day event is this Saturday 1 October at Saltford near Bristol. Entry to the exhibition and sale is free, but there is a small charge for attendance at the talks – two on sashiko and one on textile trappings.

These events are always very busy, so you are advised to get there early! Full details of the location and facilities, plus a list of vendors can be found here.

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I really enjoyed reading this beautifully illustrated article by Gino Gonzales from the autumn edition of Arts of Asia. The author, Gino Gonzales, “traces the nuanced evolution of the country’s dress and explores how this reflects the psyche of its people”. The full version of The Philippine Dress: 500 years of Straddling Polarities is now available to read here.

Una Mestiza de Manila Vestida de Gala, after Damian Domingo, circa 1820s–1830s, gouache on pith paper, 22.6 x 15.6 cm. Ayala Museum Collection. Arts of Asia

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Many of our members have really missed getting together in person. Next Thursday, 6 October, we have our chance with the long-awaited talk by Maria Wronska-Friend (originally scheduled for April 2020). Maria is currently based in Australia, and we are delighted to be welcoming her to Oxford for this in-person talk. Her subject is Kimono and Sarong: Four centuries of Japanese and Indonesian textile connections.

“The exchange of textiles between Japan and Indonesia was initiated probably in the 17th century by the Dutch traders who, until 1868, had a monopoly in the trade with Japan. As the trade goods used to be dispatched from the ports of Java, at times textiles destined for Indonesian markets were sent to Japan where they became highly treasured goods, incorporated into local dress or used in the tea ceremony. At the same time, at least from the beginning of the 19th century, residents of Java highly treasured Japanese katagami fabrics brought to Batavia as a return cargo from Nagasaki.”

Hand-drawn batik on silk made in 2018 in Yogyakarta, Central Java, for the Japanese market. Private collection

The location for this talk, which begins at 18:30 BST, is the Pauling Centre on Banbury Road, Oxford. It is free for OATG members, but there is a small charge for non-members. You can find more details and register for it here.

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Lovers of Indonesian textiles who are able to visit Switzerland next month are in for a treat. Collector Georges Breguet, who has written recently for our Asian Textiles journal, is exhibiting some of his cloths from the island of Sumba at Vésenaz near Geneva.

The exhibition will open on Saturday 8 October and close on Sunday 23 October – just a short run so don’t delay.

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Also taking place on 8 October is World Textile Day – South of England. The venue is Brockenhurst Hall in Hampshire and as usual there will be an exciting selection of textiles for sale from a variety of different traders.

John and Joan Fisher of Khayamiya with some of their Egyptian wall hangings.

Entrance is free, but there is a small charge should you wish to attend any of the talks – highly recommended. Click here for further details.

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Finally, another article which I recently read and enjoyed. In this issue of Voices On Central Asia the author, Snezhanna Atanova interviews Ukrainian archaeologist Tatiana Krupa, about What Can Golden Horde Fabrics Tell Us About Histories Of Kazakhstan And Ukraine?

Silk textile with Byzantine embroidery from excavations of the 12th-century Polovtsian burial mound Vesela Grave (Kharkiv region, Ukraine) © Tatiana Krupa

Upcoming fairs and talks

Tribal Art London – London’s leading Ethnographic Fair – opened today. Over twenty exhibitors are taking part, including OATG members Cordelia Donohoe and Joss Graham. The venue is the Mall Galleries near St James’s Park and tickets are free.

A vibrant nineteenth century Tashkent Paliak suzani

It was supposed to run until 18 September, but will now close at 17:00 on 17 September due to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Click here for more details.

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A reminder of a hybrid talk, which will take place in person in Oxford, as well as on Zoom. On Wednesday 21 September anthropologist and author Frances Larson will talk about her book Undreamed Shores: The Hidden Heroines of British Anthropology.

“In the opening two decades of the twentieth century, at a time when women were barely recognized at the University of Oxford, five women trained at the Pitt Rivers Museum and became Britain’s first professional female anthropologists. Between them, they did pioneering research in Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Siberia, Egypt, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and the pueblos of southwest America. Through their work they challenged the myths that constrained their lives. Yet when they returned to England, they found loss, madness and regret waiting for them.” – PRM website

The talk begins at 18:00 BST and you can register for either the in-person event or an online ticket here.

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The speaker for our next OATG talk is Fiona Kerlogue and her subject is Translating textiles: The Indonesian collections of Josef Šrogl.

“Museum collections in Europe contain large numbers of textiles brought back from various parts of Asia by travellers and European overseas residents, who collected them in a variety of circumstances, not often recorded in the museum documentation. Family correspondence held in the Náprstek Museum, [National Museum], Prague, from one such collector, Josef Srogl, who was collecting in the Dutch East Indies between 1895 and 1922, was passed to the museum at the same time as much of his collection, providing insights into the journey through which the textiles passed. Many of the perspectives of the collector, information about the available sources, insights into his criteria for selection and his thoughts about the intended uses for the textiles are revealed.”

Náprstek Museum collection

This Zoom talk will take place on Thursday 29 September at 18:30 BST. It is free for OATG members and there is a small charge for non-members. You can find more details and register for it here.

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The next World Textile Day event is on Saturday 1 October at Saltford near Bristol. Entry to the exhibition and sale is free, but there is a small charge for attendance at the talks – two on sashiko and one on textile trappings.

These events are always very busy, so you are advised to get there early! Full details of the location and facilities, plus a list of vendors can be found here.

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On Thursday 6 October we have the long-awaited talk by Maria Wronska-Friend, which was originally scheduled for April 2020. Maria is currently based in Australia, and we are delighted to be welcoming her to Oxford for this in-person talk. Her subject is Kimono and Sarong: Four centuries of Japanese and Indonesian textile connections.

“The exchange of textiles between Japan and Indonesia was initiated probably in the 17th century by the Dutch traders who, until 1868, had a monopoly in the trade with Japan. As the trade goods used to be dispatched from the ports of Java, at times textiles destined for Indonesian markets were sent to Japan where they became highly treasured goods, incorporated into local dress or used in the tea ceremony. At the same time, at least from the beginning of the 19th century, residents of Java highly treasured Japanese katagami fabrics brought to Batavia as a return cargo from Nagasaki.”

Hand-drawn batik on silk made in 2018 in Yogyakarta, Central Java, for the Japanese market. Private collection

The location for this talk, which begins at 18:30 BST, is the Pauling Centre on Banbury Road, Oxford. It is free for OATG members and there is a small charge for non-members. You can find more details and register for it here.

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Female anthropologists, textiles and carpets from India, Indonesia and Persia, an exciting textile fair and curating opportunity…..

On Saturday 10 September experts from the World Textile Day team will descend on The Guild Hall in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, for a one day pop up textile bazaar. They will bring with them a range of amazing textiles for sale from around the globe. They will also be happy to look at any textiles or pieces of costume you bring in to help identify what it is and where it comes from – they may even offer to buy it!

Experts confirmed are:

  • Martin Conlan of Slow Loris Textiles – an absolute authority on the minority textiles of southwestern China with stunning indigos, embroideries and fabulous costume pieces.
  • Susan Briscoe well-known author, teacher and expert in Japanese textiles.
  • Tanya Byrne of The Running Stitches with beautiful kantha work scarves, throws and quilts from northern India.
  • John and Joan Fisher with a stunning collection of applique and quilting from Egypt.
  • Diane and Jim Gaffney of Textile Traders with their 40 years of experience in south east Asian textiles – particularly in the batik and ikat of Indonesia and the indigo and natural dyes of Northern Thailand.
  • Magie Relph and Bob Irwin of The African Fabric Shop with an amazing array of West African wax print plus textiles from the traditions of all the corners of the Continent.

Entry is free and the event runs from 10 am to 4 pm. More details here.

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On Saturday 17 September batik expert Sabine Bolk will give a talk at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore on Developments in Batik history in the 19th century, imitations, and other influences from abroad. This is in conjunction with the current exhibition Batik Kita: Dressing in Port Cities.

Detail from a batik Belanda (Dutch batik) inspired by images seen in European fairy tales and magazines. “Slamet Pake” is urban slang of “Selamat Pakai”, meaning “enjoy wearing”. Kain panjang (detail). Central Java, Pekalongan, 1920s. Batik tulis. Cotton, synthetic dyes. ACM, T-0811.

Please note this is an in person event and is not available online.

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Also taking place on 17 September is an online talk as part of the Textile Museum’s Rug and Textile Appreciation sessions. The subject this time is Carpet Masters of Persia, and the speaker is Hadi Maktabi, the author of The Persian Carpet: The Forgotten Years, 1722-1872.

He will present “a detailed overview of the urban workshop tradition in Persia from the Timurid era to the 20th-century revival. This virtual lecture will cover all major weaving centres and explore the distinct characteristics of workshop structure and organization in each”.  – TM website

Detail of a wool carpet made in Isfahan by the workshop of Agha Ahmad Ajami circa 1900, depicting an ancient Persian queen called Pourandokht.

This free talk begins at 11:00 EDT, which is 16:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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Now to a hybrid talk, which will take place in person in Oxford, as well as on Zoom. On Wednesday 21 September anthropologist and author Frances Larson will talk about her book Undreamed Shores: The Hidden Heroines of British Anthropology.

“In the opening two decades of the twentieth century, at a time when women were barely recognized at the University of Oxford, five women trained at the Pitt Rivers Museum and became Britain’s first professional female anthropologists. Between them, they did pioneering research in Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Siberia, Egypt, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and the pueblos of southwest America. Through their work they challenged the myths that constrained their lives. Yet when they returned to England, they found loss, madness and regret waiting for them.” – PRM website

Maria Czaplicka, author of Aboriginal Siberia: a study in social anthropology. © Pitt Rivers

The talk begins at 18:00 BST and you can register for either the in-person event or an online ticket here.

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Also taking place on 21 September, but this time in Canberra, Australia, is a talk by Toolika Gupta, the Director of the Indian Institute of Craft and Design. Her subject is Sherwani: The influence of British rule on elite Indian menswear.

She will explore “the history of Indian menswear fashion by looking at the changing trends— clothing preferences, popular garments, and style—during the British rule. She traces Indian menswear from the 17th century to the early decades of the 21st century narrating how the flowing jamas and angrakhas of the earlier era changed to the achkan which was followed by a more tailored sherwani during the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries.”

Painting of last Nizam of Hyderabad accompanied by men some of whom are sporting sherwanis. Source: Wikipedia

This talk takes place by Zoom at 18:00 local time, which is 09:00 BST and 13:30 in Jaipur. More information and a link to registration can be found here.

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On Saturday 24 September the San Diego Museum of Art will host an online talk by Sylvia Houghteling, Assistant Professor of the History of Art at Bryn Mawr College. Her first book, The Art of Cloth in Mughal India, was published earlier this year. The subject of this particular talk is Cultures of Cloth in Mughal South Asia.

“In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a vast array of textiles circulated throughout South Asia in the lands ruled by the Mughal Empire. Made from rare fibers and crafted using virtuosic techniques, these exquisite objects animated early modern experience, from the intimate, sensory pleasure of garments to the monumentality of imperial tents. This lecture tells stories of how textiles crafted and collected across South Asia participated in political negotiations, fostered social conversations, and conveyed personal feeling across the breadth of the Mughal Empire.” – museum website

Persian courtier (detail), ca. 1615. Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper. Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, 1990.457.

You can find out more about this lecture, for which there is a small charge, and register for it here. It begins at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST.

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Some rug and textile groups have really come into their own during the pandemic. One of these is the New England Rug Society (NERS), who have an excellent programme of online talks, and a newsletter called View from the Fringe.

On Saturday 24 September Walter Denny, author of How to Read Islamic Carpets, will give a webinar entitled What the Hell Is That? – Encountering Unknown Carpets in Private and Museum Collections and the Marketplace.

“One of the pleasures—and frustrations—of studying and enjoying carpets is encountering the unexpected or the unknown. Yesterday’s close encounters with alien carpets have often morphed into today’s basic knowledge. In this illustrated lecture, Walter Denny will discuss his experiences with “wild cards” that have continued to appear, with disconcerting frequency, during his fifty-six years of studying, photographing, and analyzing carpets in private collections, museum collections, and the marketplace.” – NERS newsletter

Kilim fragment © Walter Denny

The webinar begins at 13:00 ET, which is 18:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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I was contacted recently by Jill Winder, Associate Curator (Decorative Arts & Artefacts) at the University of Leeds – the home of the International Textile Collection. They are looking to recruit a Project Collections Officer to catalogue a significant collection of Indonesian textiles.

Double ikat from Bali. Coleman Collection

This collection was previously loaned to them by a member of the OATG. Closing date for applications is 23 September 2022 and you can find out more about it here.

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Selected textile talks and exhibitions

Some OATG members have certainly had a busy summer! Speakers in this video of an event hosted by the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, include our founder Ruth Barnes (now at Yale University Art Gallery) and Sandra Sardjono of Tracing Patterns Foundation. They talk about textiles from Indonesia and the Philippines, but the themes they cover are relevant to many more areas.

“Colonialism, changing customs, war, and contemporary collecting practices have all impacted the use and meaning of textiles in Southeast Asia. In this online Re-History Series discussion, a panel of experts explores themes of loss, destruction, and conservation during colonial periods as well as the present day. They will discuss efforts to center the makers’ voices and recover from losses through research, conservation, and collaboration.” – Museum website

Sandra, along with her husband Chris Buckley, has been working on some exciting projects within the Tracing Patterns Foundation and I hope to share more on that work in the near future.

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Our Membership Secretary, David Richardson, is another OATG member who has been busy researching and writing – this time for an article which has just been published in Textiles Asia. The beautifully illustrated article discusses a collection of heirloom textiles from the Indonesian island of Solor, thus linking nicely to one of the subjects talked about by Ruth Barnes in the video above.

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A new exhibition opened last week at the Deutsches Textilmuseum (DTM) in Krefeld. Peru – ein Katzensprung (stone’s throw) celebrates the museum’s important collection of pre-Columbian textiles and runs until 23 April 2023. This is the first major exhibition of Peruvian textiles at the museum since 1959. An impressive 292 textiles are on display – the vast majority of which are from the DTM collection.

In the past pre-Columbian textiles were not bought for the collection from a cultural-historical point of view, but instead because of their motifs and the variety of techniques used. This is discussed in an interesting illustrated paper by Katalin Nagy for the Pre-Columbian Textiles Conference held in 2019. Click here to read The pre-Columbian textile collection of the German Textile Museum Krefeld.

Shirt, uncu, from the Huari Culture (8 – 10 century AD). Dyed camelid hair weft on cotton warp, tapestry weave. © Deutsches Textilmuseum

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This Thursday, 1 September, sees the opening of an exhibition at the California Museum, Sacramento, entitled Between 2 Worlds: Untold Stories of Refugees From Laos. This is a travelling exhibition that was developed by the Center for Lao Studies.

It ” presents crucial stages of the Lao refugee experience, inviting visitors to contemplate ideas of ‘home’ as seen through the eyes of people for whom the notion is precarious, and for those who have lived or are still living between two worlds.” – Museum website

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On Saturday, 3 September 2022, the World Textile Day team will be in Llanidloes, Wales. As usual there will be an eclectic mix of textiles on sale from an interesting group of dealers. This is in addition to the regular programme of talks. Entry to the event is free, with a small charge being made for the optional talks.

Full details can be found here.

Photo from a previous WTD Wales event.

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I seem to be reading more and more about textiles from the Philippines at the moment. This online event hosted by the Ayala Museum in Manila caught my attention. Intertwined Conversations: Transoceanic Journey of Luxury Goods is a conversation between Elena Phipps and Sandra Castro, moderated by Florina Capistrano-Baker. Elena will discuss how luxury goods such as silk, piña and chintz arrived in the Americas via the Manila Galleon trade and the impact these textiles had. Sandra will look at how traditional Philippine materials were used to make souvenirs in the form of Western material culture.

The timing of this event doesn’t work for our UK members (unless you are a real night owl and want to watch it at 2am), but hopefully does for some of our international members – 9 September at 21:00 EST, 18:00 PST, which is 10 September 09:00 in Manila.

For more details and registration click here.

By coincidence the new edition of Arts of Asia focuses on the Philippines, with articles including The Philippine Dress: 500 years of Straddling Polarities and Unfolding a Collection of Indigenous Philippine Textiles.

Cover of Arts of Asia

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The Textile Museum Associates of Southern California hold their next programme in early September. The subject of the webinar is Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, and the speaker is Anna Jackson, Keeper of Asian Art at the V&A in London.

“The kimono is an iconic garment. A symbol of Japanese national culture and sensibility, it is generally perceived as a traditional, timeless costume. This talk counters that conception, revealing that the kimono has always been a highly dynamic, fashionable garment. It will explore the social and sartorial significance of the kimono in historical and contemporary contexts both in Japan and in the rest of the world, where its impact on dress styles has been felt since the seventeenth century.” TMA/SC

There will be two Zoom sessions, to accommodate participants from different time zones. The talk will be the same in each case, so please only sign up for one! The first is intended for the Western Hemisphere to India and takes place on Saturday 10 September at 10:00 PDT, 13:00 EDT, 18:00 BST. The registration link can be found here.

The talk will be held again on Sunday 11 September and this is intended for those in the East – 09:00 BST, 15:00 Bangkok, 17:00 Tokyo and 18:00 Sydney. The registration link to this talk can be found here.

Left: Outer kimono for a courtesan (uchikake), 1860- 70 (©Victoria and Albert Museum) 
Right: Kimono ensemble by Hiroko Takahashi, 2009 (©Hiroko Takahashi)

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Russian and Palestinian embroidery, Korean textiles, Central Asian patchwork, Soviet Kazakh women and World Textile Day North.

PLEASE NOTE Subscribers who usually read this blog via their email may need to click on the blue title to access it through our WordPress site instead to enable them to watch any videos.

The Russian History Museum recently held a free online lecture, which I found out about too late to include in my previous blog. Please note that when this happens I do provide links on our Facebook page, so I would encourage all members to check that out too.

Pictures in Thread: Late Imperial Russia and Needlework was presented by Dr Andrea Rusnock. Luckily the event was recorded so you can now watch it at your leisure.

“Needlework played a key role in nineteenth century Russian culture and art across all social classes, from the peasantry to the urban elite. Women plied their needles to create and embellish household articles, personal items, and interior décor. In addition to the actual objects themselves there was a plethora of publications relating to needlework produced at the end of the Imperial period.” – Museum website

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Also on the subject of embroidery – I posted about this on Facebook last week and it was so popular I thought I ought to share it here too. This 68 page book is available as a free download in English or Arabic from the GWU & Textile Museum website. Simply click on this link, then on the PDF.

Front cover of the book

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This Saturday, 20 August 2022, sees the opening of an exciting new exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington DC. Korean Fashion: From Royal Court to Runway examines 125 years of Korean costume and fashion and lasts until 22 December.

“After centuries of relative isolation, Korea opened its borders to international trade and diplomacy in 1876, but for years the country remained little known outside of Asia. Korea’s participation in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 changed that. Visitors to the Korean pavilion were dazzled by the colorful displays of traditional clothing (hanbok), such as embroidered silk jackets and robes made for the Joseon royal court.” – museum website

Bridal robe, Korea, 19th century. © The Field Museum, Image No. A113982c, Cat. No. 33159. Gift of J. F. G. Umlauff, H. Higenbotham. Photo by John Weinstein.

This exhibition will include some of the actual textiles that were shown in Chicago in 1893. It also includes the work of modern designers, giving a fascinating overview of Korean culture.

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Next Wednesday, 24 August 2022, the Nebraska based International Quilt Museum will host a free Webinar, which should be of interest to our members. The museum curator, Marin Hanson, will be in discussion with Christine Martens “about her extensive travels in Central Asia and about the collecting of patchwork and quilted objects she has done on the museum’s behalf. Quilted robes, patchwork hangings, and talismanic children’s garments will all be featured in the discussion.” – museum website.

Tushtuk (decorative curtain). Probably made in Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan in the mid-20th century. Acquisition made possible by the Robert & Ardis James Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation, 2011.040.0008. © International Quilt Museum

I’ve known Chris for over a decade, through our shared love of the textiles of Central Asia. She is also an expert on feltmaking and leads tours to visit craftspeople so I’m sure this will be an excellent talk.

It takes place at 14:00 Eastern, which is 19:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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While on the subject of Central Asia, I recently read this article by Askar Alimzhanov in Voices of Central Asia. The Lives and Work of Soviet Kazakh Women in Photos contains many interesting images of Kazakh women. However I think the author in his opening paragraph fails to appreciate that having your photograph taken was treated as a serious business in many communities, and it was not uncommon to see people with solemn expressions.

Dina Nurpeisova, People’s Artist of the USSR, Almaty, 1941. Central State Archive of Film, Photo Documents, and Sound Recording of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

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The World Textile Day team is in for a busy few weeks, with their first event on Saturday 27 August 2022 at Frodsham in Cheshire. Entrance to these events is free, but there is a small charge (payable on the door) for attending the talks, which this time look at the West African bead trade, Japanese sashiko and textiles across borders.

For more details please visit the World Textile Day website.

Events and exhibitions featuring textiles from India, Japan, the Philippines, China and Peru

PLEASE NOTE Subscribers who usually read this blog via their email may need to click on the blue title to access it through our WordPress site instead to enable them to watch the videos.

Finally meeting again in person!

Several OATG members recently visited the Fashion and Textile Museum, London to see the exhibition 150 years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk. The group was guided around the exhibition by Sue Miller, and were grateful for her insights.

Woollen cloak by Livia Paplernick

One of the pieces that stood out was this wonderful woollen cloak, incorporating cotton hand embroidery, glass, jewels and metal threads. It was one of four pieces made by Livia Paplernick for her final show, and was chosen to represent the contemporary aspect of the Royal School of Needlework.

In my most recent blog I mentioned an event at the Royal Ontario Museum.  The video of Curator Conversations: For the Past, Present and Future of Ajrakh Blockprinting is now available to view at your leisure.

In it Sarah Fee is in conversation with textile artist Salemamad Khatri on his work to create and revitalize Ajrakh blockprinting in Kachchh, India. They are joined by Abdulaziz Khatri, trade manager at Khamir (a platform for the promotion of traditional art) to explore the role of artists and their supporters to preserve and promote the culture, community and environment of Kachchh.  

A key collaborator of Canadian contemporary artist Swapnaa Tamhane in the creation of the exhibition Swapnaa Tamhane: Mobile Palace, Khatri’s work is an integral part of the installations. Here he gives his perspective on the process of producing the textiles for the exhibition, and the difference between producing his own artwork and working with a contemporary visual artist. 

Turning next to a few events taking place around the world.

A new permanent exhibition of textiles has opened at the Ayala Museum in Manila. Skeins of Knowledge, Threads of Wisdom: The Mercedes Zobel Collection of Indigenous Philippine Textiles has been curated by Patricia M. Araneta and Floy Quintos, and the installation was designed by Gino Gonzalez. It shows how the “indigenous textile arts in the Philippines demonstrate the ingenuity, creativity, adaptability, and sophistication of the early Filipinos.” – museum website.

Left: an important tritik technique suit worn only by men of the magani rank. Right: A Bagobo jacket of cloth discarded from sails and sacks, ornamented with trade beads and mother-of-pearl shown above a pair of pantaloons with ikat and beading. Photo © Floy Quintos

Even if (like me) you can’t go to the exhibition, I would strongly recommend reading this excellent guide, produced by the museum. It has superb images – though some of them do take a while to download. I was fascinated to learn that abaca (fibre from a plant in the banana family) cloth gets its sheen from being burnished with a cowrie shell.

Abaca cloth burnished with cowrie shell.

The temporary exhibition Langs Geborduurde Wegen (Along Embroidered Roads) at the Museum de Kantfabriek in Horst, The Netherlands will now be on show until the end of 2022. It showcases some of the textiles from the extensive collection of Ien Rappoldt, who has been visiting Guizhou province for the past two decades, recording the embroidery art of the women.

The special exhibition Humans, Beasts, Gods. Textile Treasures from Ancient Peru continues at the Abegg-Stiftung in Switzerland until 13 November 2022.

Among the holdings of the Abegg-Stiftung in Riggisberg is a small but impressive collection of textiles from Ancient Peru. The majority of these early Peruvian textiles were collected by Werner Abegg between 1930 and 1933.

“The most interesting of these are now presented to the public for the first time in a dedicated exhibition.
The peoples of Ancient Peru were already producing a vast array of finely crafted fabrics and garments over two thousand years ago. That we can marvel at them today is thanks to a combination of climatic and geographical conditions, specifically the dry, salty soils of the desert regions of coastal Peru, in which these precious artefacts were preserved. Protected against both moisture and light, they survived the ravages of time either as offerings to the gods or as grave goods, the burial customs of past civilizations being a crucial factor in the “survival” of countless Peruvian textiles. ” – Museum website

I’ve already blogged several times about the Japanese textiles exhibition currently showing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Dark blue-ground festival kimono decorated with sea creatures; Cloth: cotton; tsutsugaki (freehand resist); The John R. Van Derlip Fund and the Mary Griggs Burke Endowment Fund established by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke FoundationFoundation

On Thursday 18 August textile conservator Dr Ishii Mie will examine Japanese Textiles: Traditional Dyes and Conservation Methods. An associate professor of art at Saga University, Japan, Dr. Ishii will introduce methods of textile conservation and recovery using examples from the royal collection stored at Shuri Castle in Okinawa, which was severely damaged by fire in 2019, and will describe the various techniques of textile dyeing in Japan. This is an in-person event, which begins at 18:30 CDT. Click here to book.

A new exhibition opens this week at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney to coincide with the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.

Textile length decorated with beetle wings, India. Acquired 1883. Powerhouse collection. Photo by Zan Wimberley

The exhibition is called Charka and Kargha – a charka being a spinning wheel and a kargha a loom. “The exhibition will feature over 100 rare items that date back to the foundational collections of the Powerhouse acquired since the 1880s. In addition to their beauty, many of the textiles featured in the exhibition incorporate spinning, weaving, dyeing and embroidery techniques. Highlights include block-printed textiles, known as Fustat fragments, believed to be made in Gujarat in the 1400s.” – Museum website

This exhibition runs until January 2023.

I’ve blogged previously about the Kimono Style exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum in New York. On Saturday 20 August 2022 two Met experts, Monika Bincsik and Marco Leona, “explore the history and modernization of the Japanese kimono. Learn about Japan’s famed weaving, dying, and embroidery techniques along with discoveries from new scientific research.” – Museum website.

Kyōgen suit (Suō) with rabbits jumping over waves, Japan mid-19th century.

This is a pre-recorded programme which will be available on YouTube and Facebook at 10:00 EDT, which is 15:00 BST. Click here for more details.