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

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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.

A selection of textile events and articles

I’m starting this blog with one of the oldest textiles I have ever blogged about – a thirteenth century tunic from Lebanon.

Before conservation. © Abegg-Stiftung

The Abegg-Stiftung in Switzerland is committed to the collection, conservation and study of historical textiles. They have “been studying and conserving a group of archaeological textiles from Lebanon for several years now. The garments and accessories dating from the thirteenth century were found during excavations in the Assi el-Hadath cave in the Qadisha Valley between 1988 and 1993. Thanks to the dry climate there they are well preserved and are now prized as unique testimony to the clothes worn by a rural population during the Middle Ages. They tell us how carefully cloth was handled in those days and how even small pieces of fabric were made up into garments, which were then decorated and repaired as needed.“ – Abegg-Stiftung website

After conservation. © Abegg-Stiftung

Jelena Miloradić studied and conserved this child’s garment as part of her MA in Conservation-Restoration. A general overview of this work can be viewed here. I recommend using the magnification view to see how cleverly the netting has been used to support this textile.

Those interested in more detailed information about how this textile was conserved can find it here.

A basket from crin.

On Thursday 23 September the Embassy of Chile, Washington, will be hosting a Zoom workshop entitled Crin From Chile. Crin is horsehair weaving and “this colorful art form has its roots in a 200-year-old tradition from the city of Rari, located 310 kilometers south of Santiago, Chile.” – Textile Museum website.

Learn more about this traditional craft from Luciana Pérez of the Fundación de Artesanías de Chile, Jimena Asenjo from the Museum of Arts and Crafts of Linares and an artist from Rari. This event takes place at 11:00 Eastern Time (16:00 BST) and is free, but you do need to register.

One of the auction lots. © T W Gaze

Also on 23 September there will be an auction of vintage fabrics at Diss. This includes some Asian and African textiles, which might be of interest to some members. Thanks to Nick Fielding for informing me of this. Here is a link to the online catalogue.

One Hundred Cranes Imperial Robe Chinese, late 17th-early 18th century Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). Embroidered damask. © Nelson-Atkins Museum

On Saturday 25 September a new exhibition Weaving Splendor: Treasures of Asian Textiles opens at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City – thanks to our friends at ClothRoads for this information. Exhibits will include Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Persian textiles.

“The exhibition traces the journeys of key works of art and the people who owned them and carried them across the world. Luxurious costumes of the court performed power, while striking theater robes brought stage characters to life. Sturdy wall hangings and furniture covers transformed palaces, temples, and homes, while shimmering tapestry-woven carpets were created as diplomatic gifts for foreign rulers.“ – museum website.

Also taking place on 25 September is the opening of a new exhibition at the Penn Museum, Philadelphia, entitled The Stories We Wear. “The clothing, accessories, and decorations we put on our bodies tell stories about who we are. They shape how others see us and how we see ourselves. What we wear can prepare us for important events or transform us into someone new. It may follow tradition or a recent trend. And it can show that we belong or help us stand out. Now and in the ancient past, close to home and far away, the stories we wear connect us. Showcasing 2,500 years of style and adornment through approximately 250 remarkable objects, The Stories We Wear reveals how clothing and accessories offer powerful expressions of identity—examining the purpose and meaning behind what we wear.” – Penn Museum.

On the same day the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California will host a talk by Dr Anne Tiballi of the Penn Museum entitled Threads and Themes of The Stories We Wear. Dr Tiballi was a consultant for the exhibition and in this talk she will “dig deep into several of the exhibitions ‘outfits’, making connections between the technological skill, creativity, and cultural significance of the peoples who made and wore them.  ….. the items she will discuss include a Pre-Columbian Andean warp-patterned tunic, headband, and bag; a Qing Dynasty Chinese court costume; and early 20th century coconut fibre armour from Kiribati, a Mongolian silk deel and boots, and a Hopi wedding dress.” – TMASC

This free talk begins at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST. Please click here to register.

A reminder that the new exhibition Gold of the Great Steppe opens at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge next week. The Saka culture of Central Asia, flourished 2,500 years ago. This exhibition will present artefacts from the extraordinary burial mounds (kurgans) of the Saka people of East Kazakhstan. Several hundred gold items will be on display, including jewellery and horse harness decorations. What does this have to do with textiles you may ask? Special items of clothing were sometimes decorated with small gold embossed plaques, some of which will be on display.

A curator’s introduction to the exhibition will take place online next Wednesday 29 September at 13:15 BST. You can register for tickets here.

A robe from The Spirit Wraps Around You exhibition

Finally I would like to recommend a blog just published by Catherine Tutter entitled Dance of the Raven’s Tail, Part III.

In it she describes her experience of seeing the ‘Sky’ robe created by Evelyn Vanderhoop of the Haida Nation. It is shown next to a tunic created by Evelyn’s mother, Dolores Churchill. Catherine also includes links to a couple of videos by Evelyn, which are well worth watching. Evelyn and Dolores were also heavily involved with the exhibition The Spirit Wraps Around You, which I have blogged about several times this year. A reminder that a video tour of the exhibition can be accessed here.