Event: Caucasian Textiles and Carpets in the Georgian National Museum

Event date: Tuesday 2 July 2019 18:00

Fresh from giving a paper at the HALI Symposium we are delighted that Professor Dr Irina Koshoridze will give a talk to the OATG on the subject of Caucasian Textiles and Carpets in the Georgian National Museum. In it she will present the richness and variety of Caucasian textiles, carpets, and traditional costumes found in the museums of Tbilisi. She will explore how traditional arts and crafts techniques changed and developed against the background of different political circumstances in Georgia. Products of a thoroughfare between East and West, Caucasian textiles from the Georgian region reveal the influences of the Persians and Ottomans who variously ruled over the region and much of the Orthodox Christian world.

© Federica Gigante

Dr Irina Koshoridze is Professor of Art History and Theory at the State University in Tbilisi and Chief Curator of the Georgian National Museum, as well as Director of the State Museum of Folk and Applied Arts of Georgia. She has co-authored several books including Stars of the Caucasus: Antique Azerbaijan Silk Embroideries, Flat-Woven Rugs & Textiles from the Caucasus, Treasures of the Georgian National Museum, and the Oriental Collections of the Georgian National Museum.

© Federica Gigante

© Federica Gigante

Unfortunately the future direction of one of these museums seems to now be under threat. Earlier this year the Museum of Folk and Applied Arts was put under the care of the Georgian Museum of Cinema, Theatre, Choreography and Music – clearly not a suitable fit for it. William Dunbar, journalist and long-time Georgia resident, wrote an article about this for HALI – see image below – describing how the Folk and Applied Arts museum traces its roots to an attempt in the late nineteenth century by the Russians to encourage handicraft enterprises in this area. They made a detailed record of all of the textiles they could find at that time, which included taking photographs of classic Caucasian rugs in the places where they were originally found. 

© William Dunbar. Shared with his kind permission.

 

 

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

Date: Tuesday, 2nd of July 2019

Time: 6 pm for a 6.15 pm start

OATG events are free for members and £3 for non-members

 

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Events: Textile events in London and Singapore

Lots of exciting textile events happening soon!

22 – 30 June

It’s going to be a busy week in London with the Handcrafted Heritage events celebrating Indian textiles at The Bhavan in West Kensington, which is the largest centre for classical Indian arts and culture outside of India. A free exhibition and sale will showcase heritage textiles including Benarasis, Patan Patolas, and Dhakai Jamdanis and vintage silver jewellery.

On Wednesday 26th and Saturday 29th June there will be a workshop devoted to patolas. The tutor for this workshop will be Shri Kanubhai Salvi, a master weaver and holder of the UNESCO Seal of Excellence Award. His family have been producing these double ikat textiles in Patan for many generations.

Photo courtesy of Patan Patola Heritage

Also on 26 June (but in the evening) there will be a screening of the fascinating documentary Legend of the Loom, which tells the story of Bengal muslin and how the trade in it flourished and then declined. The screening will be followed by a conversation session with its producer Saiful Islam. An excellent review of this film by Hannah Sayer can be found here.

 

21 June- 8 September 2019

Opening shortly at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, is an exhibition entitled Weavers of the Clouds: Textile Arts of Peru. This exhibition ” explores the processes and practices of both historic and contemporary Peruvian costume via garments, textiles, photographs, tools, illustrations and paintings, dating from pre-Hispanic to present day.”

Photo courtesy of Fashion and Textile Museum

There will be a panel on the opening day discussing Peruvian Fashion with several of the designers whose work is featured in the exhibition along with its curator. Attendance at the panel is free with an exhibition ticket, but places must be booked as numbers are limited.

Contemporary designs by Mozhdeh Matin, who works with artisans and champions Peruvian textiles and techniques

24 – 30 June 2019

HALI London – this is a series of events to celebrate the 200th edition and 40th year of HALI. These include a fair with twenty of the best international dealers in attendance, a 6-day tour of Great British Collections, two symposia – each with twelve lectures, and a whole series of miscellaneous events. Full information can be found on their website. Please note that several of the events have already sold out – so act quickly if you want to book for those that are still available!

Selected highlights:-

The exhibition at Francesca Galloway’s gallery entitled Textile Splendours From The East. “The gallery will present a plethora of textiles from Asia, including a magnificent Sogdian costume, a delicate Ming period needle loop embroidery, Indian chintzes for domestic and export markets, as well as textiles made for spiritual pursuits.”

One of the items featured in Francesca Galloway’s exhibition

The other event that really stands out (of those that are not already sold out) is the visit to the Karun Thakar Collection. Participants will go to Karun’s private residence where they will be able to view his extraordinary collection. This includes Asian textiles ranging from 14th century Indian Trade cloths to folk textiles and costumes from Central Asia, Japan, Bhutan and Afghanistan; African textiles—predominantly narrow loom weavings from Ghana, Nigeria and other West African countries, plus North African embroideries, veils and haiks from Morocco and Tunisia.(Information from Hali website). You can browse through images of some of his collection here.

Winter chuba from Western Tibet

15 June – 15 September 2019

Finally a new exhibition has just opened at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture showcases twenty pieces from the Museum’s own collection along with twenty nine pieces created by the designer.

Image courtesy of the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Curator led tours will be held on 26 June, 31 July and 28 August and can be booked via the museum website. Steven G. Alpert has pulled together a huge amount of information about this exhibition on his excellent website Art of the Ancestors. It has stunning images and information on the links with the Peranakan – the golden bridal dress is simply a work of art! It seems pointless for me to attempt to replicate Steven’s piece so instead I simply recommend you click here to read it.

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Article:- Spirit House

Anyone who has ever visited many parts of Southeast Asia will be familiar with the sight of spirit houses, often with food, drink and candles on them. In this article in the Asian Art Newspaper Michael Young tells the story of one young Cambodian artists passion for rescuing these iconic small shrines.

In 1963 a huge housing complex known as the White House was built on the riverfront in Phnom Penh. Many of the apartments in this complex had spirit houses – some were elaborate and some were simple. At one time this housed over 2000 people. It was emptied in 1975 under the Khmer Rouge and remained unoccupied until 1979. Gradually people began to move back in and it became the home of many artists and musicians. Vuth Lyno set up an art-run space there many years later, working from there until the buildings were demolished in 2017.

Young describes how a once socially cohesive society began to fragment when people accepted the small payments offered to them by developers, then found they could not buy anywhere in the city for that price and so drifted away to the suburbs. The buildings were emptied over a period of just three days, during which time Vuth ran from apartment to apartment rescuing as many spirit houses as he could. He used over 80 of these to produce a 4 metre high installation entitled House – Spirit 2018 which was shown at a major exhibition in Brisbane and later bought by QAGOMA, Brisbane.

 

 

 

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Exhibition: Vanishing Costumes of the Shan Saophas

Exhibition dates: 9-18 June 2019, National Museum, Yangon.

 

Until the late 1950s chiefs known as Saopha or Sawbwa were responsible for the administration of the Shan State of Burma. This exhibition, which is only open for 9 days, showcases a total of 27 costumes which are over a hundred years old. The majority of these costumes previously belonged to prominent men, but there is also one costume which belonged to the Shan Princess Mahardevi Sao Nan Yar. The most important costumes belonged to Sao Shwe Thike, the first President of Burma, and his father Sar Sao Maung.

 

Sao Shwe Thike

These costumes were brought to the National Museum in Yangon from the Nyaung Shwe Cultural Museum, Shan State, in 2017 with the intention of having them properly restored and preserved. These costumes include textiles, silk, brocade, cotton, metals and precious stones.

For more information see this article in the Myanmar Times by Lae Phya Myo Myint. 

 

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News: Focus on mud dyeing

Event date: 15 June 2019 at 14:00.

 

Following on from yesterday’s blog we now have the details of the second dyeing talk and demonstration.

“Amami Oshima is an island in the Ryūkyū archipelago, southern Japan. It is renowned for Oshima tsumugi, a kimono cloth dyed by dorozome (mud-dyeing), an ancient technique that gives a unique black colour to textiles. The dyeing workshop KANAI KOUGEI specializes in dorozome for Oshima tsumugi. Alongside their own products dyed using plant materials sourced from Amami’s unique natural environment, KANAI KOUGEI also dye fashion and interior objects for international contemporary designers. This is a rare opportunity to see the process of Dorozome by Japanese practitioners using actual materials from Amami Oshima in the UK.

This talk and workshop are initiated by designer and anthropologist Charlotte Linton, University of Oxford, who has invited Yukihito Kanai (vice-president/dyer) and Akiyo Shidama (maker/dyer) from KANAI KOUGEI to present with her a lecture about Amamian traditional textiles.

Following the talk, there will be a tour of the Dye Garden with Wesley Shaw, the Head of Horticulture at the Horniman Museum.

Workshop
In addition, a small number of participants will be able to dye a furoshiki (wrapping cloth) using dorozome materials brought from Amami. Due to limited materials and supervision, the workshop numbers are necessarily small. Lecture attendees are welcome to stay and watch the workshop.

Please note that this event is only suitable for children over 16.”

This event at the Horniman Museum in London is free and open to the public, but booking is necessary. For further details of the event visit the website of the Japan Society and follow this link to book. Please note spaces are very limited so early booking is essential!

 

A selection of mud-dyed textiles. Photo by Kentaro Takahashi for The New York Times

An excellent article by Martin Fackler on the economic issues facing the kimono producers of Amami Oshima appeared in The New York Times in 2015. He describes how 20,000 people were once employed in this profession, but that number has now shrank to 500. His article ends with the following words from Yukihito Kanai – one of the presenters of the Horniman event:  

“We need to become more like artisans in Europe or artists in New York,” said the younger Mr. Kanai, 35, who said he is one of the few “young successors” in the island’s kimono industry. “Even traditions have to evolve.”

The production of a kimono on the island of Amami Oshima is so meticulous that a single mistake could squander the efforts of every artisan in the process. The BBC series Handmade in Japan tracked the year-long transformation of the island’s famous mud-dyed silk into an exquisite garment. Although the full-length programmes are no longer available online, short video clips still are. These cover the various people involved in making a kimono – the starcher, the designer, the binder, the mud-dyer, the weaver, the inspector and the tailor. They can be viewed on the BBC website under the title Mud, Sweat and Fears.

For more information on mud dyeing (more correctly mud-mordanting as it is the tannin which produces the dye) see the work of OATG members David and Sue Richardson on their Asian Textile Studies website. David and Sue have also documented the process of mud-dyeing used by the last practitioner of this craft on the Indonesian island of Sumba and will be adding this to their website in the near future. In the meantime here are a few photos to whet your appetite!

 

 

 

 

 

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Events :- Textile events in the UK and USA

There are a wide range of textile-related events happening over the next couple of weeks; here are just a few of them.

 

Photo: TMA/SC

At 10:00am on 1 June Shiv Sikri will give a presentation entitled Hidden in Plain Sight: Irregularities and Variations in Oriental Rug Designs to the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California. Their invitation state that ” Irregularities and variations in oriental rugs have been ‘explained away’ in an ad hoc, case by case basis here in the west, far from the places they were woven and without any explanations from those that wove them. These explanations include notions of individual variations, mistakes, or indeed change of weavers. However, many such irregularities can be seen to be quite specific and articulate. This raises the possibility, one that should be given appropriate weight, that these are traditional practices and may signify something more than individual improvisations. By comparing many examples, we hope to persuade old timers and new enthusiasts to look at oriental weaving traditions anew, one that is coherent over several millennia and across a broad geography, and one that consciously incorporates specific variations.”

Location:

St. Bede’s Episcopal Church

3590 Grand View Blvd. Los Angeles

As their website is currently undergoing renovation you will need to visit their Facebook page for further details.

 

A silk screen featuring Su embroidery

The Bowers Museum at Santa Ana is the location for what should be a fascinating talk on Haute Couture Techniques and Fashion Embroidery with Maxwell Barr. Topics covered will include Haute Couture construction techniques, Goldwork hand embroidery embellishment – particularly the history and art of Su embroidery – and the work of Royal Court embroiderers up to the present. Su embroidery comes from Suzhou in Jiansu province and is one of the four main types of Chinese embroidery. Very fine silk threads are used, with the strands being split several times to make the threads even thinner. Read more about the history and development of this embroidery here.

Maxwell Barr

Maxwell is an authority on period costume and this article gives an insight into his painstaking on recreating some of them.

Location: Bowers Museum, 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706

To book this event please click here.

 

A beautifully produced video with English subtitles showing the mud-dyeing process.

Please note that for reasons I have yet to understand the video may not work if you are reading the email version of this blog. However if you click the blue title link and read the blog online, it will then work.

Finally in Oxford Charlotte Linton will be running a mud dyeing event at Wolfson College on Thursday 13th June. Specialists from the Kanai Kougei dyeing workshop on the island of Amami Oshima will be involved in a presentation on traditional Amami textiles. There will also be an opportunity for a small number of people to participate in a workshop to dye a furoshiki wrapping cloth using mud dyeing materials and a technique known as dorozome. Although the number able to participate will be necessarily restricted, tall lecture attendees are welcome to watch the process.

Please note that this particular event is ONLY OPEN to members of Oxford University. For more information contact the organiser charlotte.linton@anthro.ox.ac.uk

Although this event is restricted to members of the University, there will be a second event a few days later at the Horniman Museum in London which will be open to the public. This will be on Saturday 15th June, but no details are yet available – I will post more as soon as the information becomes available.

 

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Event: World Textile Day – Central England

 

Some of the World Textile Day team, with OATG member John Gillow wearing a very fetching outfit!

Event date: Saturday 1 June 2019 10:00 – 16:30.

The theme for the 2019 World Textile Days is Inspired to Create – and you can’t get more creative than their special guest, Batik Guild member Heather Koumi. Heather was introduced to the art of batik forty years ago but says “I still get excited when a piece of work sings out its colours, as it is revealed when I slowly remove all the wax.”

 

“Blue Moon” by Heather Koumi

FREE admission to an exhibition of woven, printed and embroidered textiles.

FAIR TRADE MARKET from makers, workshops and villages around the world

  • 11 am PRESENTATION. Heather Koumi – award-winning batik artist. Letting Go in Java.
  • 2 pm A short talk by one of the textile experts and the chance to WEAR AND TELL!
  • £3 per session or £5 for both, tickets at the door
  • Specialist world textiles traders
  • Disabled access
  • Free parking

For more information on this event at King’s Sutton near Banbury visit the World Textile Day website. 

Exhibitions and Event: Spotlight on Syria

Ottoman Syria man’s cloak (abaya) back, early 20th century. © Fowler Museum.

Exhibition dates: 17 March – 18 August 2019.

Dressed with Distinction: Garments from Ottoman Syria features a a rare selection of Syrian textiles from the collection of David and Elizabeth Reisbord, dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“The exhibition features examples of Arab and Ottoman attire dating from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries and celebrates the talents of weavers and tailors in urban centres like Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs where a sophisticated range of dyeing, weaving, and decorative techniques earned the region international renown for its textile production. Men and women living in these cities were famous for wearing brightly coloured clothing worked in silk glittering with gold and silver thread. After World War I (and the end of 400 years of Ottoman rule), Syrians privileged Western attire, leading to an eventual decline in handwoven garment production. More recently, unrest and conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean have virtually eradicated any remnants of these textile traditions and skills. Thus, this exhibition documents the heritage of iconic Arab and Ottoman garments and the importance of fashion as a marker of cultural knowledge.” – Fowler Museum Press Release.

Bedouin man’s coat (damir), late 19th to early 20th century. © Fowler Museum.

This exhibition was curated by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, the Director of the Textile Research centre in Leiden, and includes examples of clothing worn by both urban and nomadic people. The techniques used include ikat, tapestry weave, brocade and embroidery. These clothes reflected status as well as religious adherence.

For more information and some great textile images go to the website of the Fowler Museum.

On Saturday 27 April Dr Vogelsang-Eastwood will be giving a lecture at the Fowler Museum on Syrian Garments. This will be followed by a book signing and reception. This event is free but registration is required.

9th – 10th century bowl with kufic script. © Art Gallery of South Australia.

In another part of the globe the exhibition Love from Damascus: The art of devotion in Islam, currently showing at the Art Gallery of South Australia, will be closing on 30 April 2019.

This exhibition, curated by James Bennett, explores the divine and worldly aspects of devotion expressed in the arts of Islam over one thousand years. The objects on show include richly decorated gold-illuminated manuscripts and paintings, ceramics, silverware and textiles from the Middle East, India and Indonesia. Among the highlights are richly decorated manuscripts, including Al-Qur’an, from the Turkish Museum of Australia, Melbourne, and the Art Gallery’s own unique copy of Mathnavi by the great medieval Sufi poet.

Visit the Gallery website for further details.

 

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Feature: The Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Köln

“It is only through knowledge of other cultures and other ways of life that mutual understanding, respect and tolerance between people in their immediate vicinity can be promoted.” RJM catalogue.

The exterior of the museum

Last autumn OATG members David and Sue Richardson spent time at the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum – Cultures of the World in Köln, Germany at the invitation of Sonja Mohr, the curator for Insular Southeast Asia, and give their impressions of it below.

The first thing that hits you as you enter the huge reception area of this museum in central Köln is the rice barn from Kesu’ region, Tana Toraja which the museum acquired in 1984. Fortunately they have the provenance of this structure and know that it was decorated in around 1935 by the master carver Ne’Kambane. It must have been an enormous task to dismantle this and reconstruct it the museum.

The rice barn which dominates the entrance to the museum. © David Richardson

© Sue Richardson

The bones of the collection came from that of Wilhelm Joest. He was a great traveller and collector and when he died of fever in the South Seas his collection went to his sister Adele, who was married to Eugen Rautenstrauch. When her husband died just a few years later, Adele financed the construction in 1901 of a museum to house this collection, which opened in 1906 in South Köln.

Joest in his Berlin apartment. © Rauchenstrauch-Joest Museum

Damage sustained by the building during the war, plus the risk of flooding from the Rhine, meant a new location was required and the current museum opened in the city centre in 2010. It is spread over several levels, with a gallery for temporary exhibitions on the ground floor and the main permanent exhibition above.

The main exhibition is grouped around several themes, based on cultural comparisons, under the banner People in their Worlds.  As we entered the exhibition we were faced with a large screen with a video showing numerous people of different ethnic origins saying welcome in a variety of languages. “This comparative cultural approach emphasises the equality and validity of all cultures and provides impulses for thought and stimulating dialogue.” RJM catalogue.

The next area was used for the performance of gamelan music and wayang shadow plays.

One of the areas we found fascinating was the recreation of the homes of several major collectors. The walls were covered with a facsimile of the interiors, and items that could be seen on those images were also exhibited in the room. This gave us a greater understanding of context.

Max Oppenheim’s apartment c 1920 decorated with items from his collection of Orientalia. © David Richardson.

After considering the role of the collector we entered an area which looks at The Distorted View, examining our prejudices about other people. It looks at historical views of people seen as “other”, as well as current ones.

Following this we entered the section which examines the portrayal of the human figure by peoples with different artistic traditions. One of the stand-out pieces for us was this altar from Leti, Eastern Indonesia, acquired there in 1912 by Wilhelm Müller who unfortunately died of typhoid on Java just 4 years later.

An altar for offerings to Hu-rainna Hu-tualinna, the founding ancestress of a particular kinship group.© David Richardson

Next we entered the area looking at Living Spaces. This contained many examples of dwellings including a tipee from the Blackfoot of the northern Plains, a Tuareg tent , and a large section of a men’s house from the Asmat people. This was of particular interest to us as we have visited several Asmat villages over the years. This particular example was abandoned in 1993. In complete contrast to this was the reception room of a house from Kayseri in Cappadocia (Turkey). This dates to the beginning of the 19th century and the interior decoration is a combination of Islamic and European styles.

© Martin Classen and Arno Janson

Our favourite part was next – The Body as a Stage: Clothes and Adornment. One section looked at how regional forms of clothing and decoration have evolved and how some fabrics have come to represent a people – as in the case of batik.

Sarong (cut open and rolled) from Lasem on the north coast of Java c. 1880. This is a masterpiece of batik with lots of different animal motifs.

© Sue Richardson

The next section looked at how clothing differs by gender in many societies and we were delighted to see cloths from Tanimbar Island in Indonesia used to convey this.

Tanimbar sarong. C. 1900. The black and white stripes in the middle show that this belonged to someone of high rank. © David Richardson

Tanimbar loincloth, dyed with indigo and decorated with shells. This section would have hung down at the front. © Sue Richardson.

One of the most outstanding pieces came in the section on Power and Wealth and was this feather cloak from Hawaii. This sort of cloak could only be worn by certain members of the nobility, and hundreds of thousands of feathers went into making this.

Feather cloak ‘ahu’ula from Hawaii. This dates to pre-1823 and originally belonged to King Kamehameha II. © David Richardson

We also loved this extraordinary bull-shaped coffin which was made for the museum in 2006 by the Balinese artist I Ketut Budiana.

© Sue Richardson

The exhibition ends with almost a mirror image of how it began – with a video on a large screen of the same people who said welcome in differnt languages. However there is a twist – this time they all speak in German and say Ich bin ein Kölner/Kölnerin – I am from Köln. We really loved this idea.

We have only been able to provide a snapshot of this excellent museum here – omitting a Peruvian cloth that dated to the 14th century, Gujarati patolu, fabulous Asmat carvings etc, etc. The museum has over 3,500 textiles and a varied selection of them are on display – with yet more in their wonderful storage area. We highly recommend a visit!

 

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Exhibition and Events: Living Colours – Kasane, the language of Japanese Colour Combinations

Date: 5 April – 19 May 2019

Japan House is located on Kensington High Street in London and presents the very best of Japanese art, design, gastronomy, innovation, and technology. It is part of a global initiative led by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This exhibition explores the work of the Yoshioka Dyeing Workshop in Kyoto. The Japanese have long had a deep appreciation of colour and a close relationship with their natural surroundings and the changing of the seasons. This exhibition aims to show how this has been expressed by the careful creation of colour combinations and how Yoshioka has studied and developed Japan’s age-old natural dyeing techniques showing its vibrant colour culture.

Yoshioka Sachio is the 5th-generation head of the workshop who, when he inherited the business, decided to discard the use of synthetic dyes and to ensure that all the work undertaken would use age-old natural dyeing materials. His daughter Sarasa is taking over the running of the workshop as a 6th-generation Yoshioka.

There will be a gallery talk by Sarasa who has studied silk production, including silk reeling, throwing, dyeing, and weaving, TODAY (Saturday 6 April). This is free, but space is limited.

On Thursday 11 April brothers SUGIMOTO Kakuro and Tetsuo of the Sugimoto Pharmacy based in Kamakura, will explore the history and current applications of herbalism in Japan, demonstrating how to make a soothing skin balm from purple shikon, a root which is also the main ingredient for the highly prized murasaki purple dye featured in the Living Colours exhibition.

Location: 101-111 Kensington High Street, London W8 5SA

For more information visit the website of Japan House.

 

 

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