Ajrakh block printing, Jewish carpets, Ainu textiles and the Karun Thakar Fund

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I’ve only just become aware of this event, which takes place this Thursday 28 July. OATG member Sarah Fee of the Royal Ontario Museum will be in conversation with noted textile artist Salemamad Khatri, discussing his attempts to revitalise the art of block printing in Kachchh, India. They will also be joined by Abdulazziz Khatri of Khamir. This free online event takes place at 11:00 EDT, which is 16:00 BST. For more information and tickets please click here.

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In previous blogs I mentioned two talks that were taking place in the USA. I’m delighted to say that both of these were recorded and are now available to view.

The first recording is of a talk given by OATG member Alberto Boralevi at the Textile Museum in Washington on the subject What is a Jewish Carpet?

“Alberto Boralevi began his research on rugs and carpets with Jewish features or Hebrew inscriptions in the 1980s, when they were mostly overlooked both by carpet scholars and specialists in Jewish art. There are several difficulties for considering Jewish carpets as a specific group, since fundamental differences in origin, age, design and technique can be found among them. Boralevi defines Jewish carpets as any carpet or rug with a Jewish design, Hebrew inscriptions or any other feature that could prove that it was woven by Jews or commissioned by a Jew or for a Jewish purpose.” Museum website.

The second recording is by Christina M. Spiker on the subject of The Ainu of Japan: Their Unique Textile Tradition. This talk was given in person last week at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, who are currently exhibiting a wonderful collection of Japanese textiles.

Finally, a reminder that the deadline for applications for the Karun Thakar fund (in collaboration with the V&A) close at the end of August. Karun is particularly keen to support innovative small projects. Scholarship Awards of up to £10,000 are offered to students focussing on Asian or African textiles or dress at any accredited university worldwide. Project Grants of up to £5000 are offered to early-career researchers, practitioners, and curators as well as community leaders, grassroot collectives and community-based arts organisations in support of projects focused on Asian and African textiles and dress. More information about the fund can be found here.

Exhibition: Mingei of Japan – Treasures New and Old from the Museum’s Collection

Mingei International Museum - Mingei of Japan

Exhibition dates: 2 April – 2 October 2016

After the Mingei International Museum’s year and a half devoted to American folk art, craft and design it seems appropriate to return to Mingei’s origins and to plumb again the rich core of the museum’s collection, its Japanese arts of daily life. Brief selections from Soetsu Yanagi’s writings (he coined the word mingei) accompany and give context to a wide range of objects, not thought of as art until Yanagi’s inspired insight, but today recognised as beautiful and timeless.

Recent gifts and purchases will be featured along with long-held objects that are well-known to museum members and much admired by them. Among donated treasures to be seen for the first time will be important textiles: indigo-dyed bedclothes, futon covers, door hangings, wrapping cloths, kimono, kimono belts made from recycled material and painted Boys’ Day and birthday banners.

A large selection from 153 mostly nineteenth-century Shinto ema paintings just acquired by purchase will also be exhibited for the first time. These are folk paintings, depictive of animals familiar and exotic, of vegetables and people in a truly disarming manner. They were sold at shrines (and still are) and hung there by devotees as offerings to accompany prayers.

Among familiar treasures will be baskets, soba cups, tea kettles and pots, cabinets, distinctive coats of the Ainu (Japan’s indigenous people), kimono of national treasure Keisuke Serizawa, a selection of anonymous pottery as well as that of famed potters Kanjiro Kawai, Shoji Hamada and Tatsuzo Shimaoka.

For more information, visit the website of the Mingei International Museum, San Diego, California, USA.