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.

******************************

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 It includes over a hundred colour plates, as well as many previously unpublished photographs from the region.

******************************

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.

******************************

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

******************************

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

******************************

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!

******************************

Textiles from the Silk Road, China, Peru, Indonesian basketry, and much more….

On 10 February 2022 Cambridge University held a Dunhuang Seminar, with Professor Max Deeg of Cardiff University as the speaker. His subject was Trading Silk – Negotiating Religion: Buddhist stories and discourses about silk. The seminar was recorded and you can access the video here.

This was the second in a series of six seminars, taking place between January and March. For those interested in learning more about the rest of the series click here.

Centre: Woman wearing a pote lo’o made in twill weave during the opening of the bringing of buffa-lo ceremony (pua karapau). © Stefan Danerek.

I’ve previously blogged about the relatively new journal Fiber, Loom and Technique established by OATG members Chris Buckley and Sandra Sardjono. A new article with excellent illustrations has just been published in it, covering the basketry traditions of Palu’e, a small island off the coast of Flores in Eastern Indonesia. The author is Stefan Danerek, a Swedish researcher who has studied the language, arts and crafts of this small island for several years. I’m familiar with Palu’e weaving, so welcomed this opportunity to get to know more about another of their crafts, especially the so-called ‘mad weave’. You can learn more about Stefan’s work from his website.

Pustaha in Mandailing Batak script, with many drawings in red and black ink, before 1844. British Library, Add 19381. 18th – early 19th century.

I recently heard of this work on Batak manuscripts through Sandra Niessen. Apparently the British Library has the “oldest dateable Batak manuscript (Add 4726), which entered the British Museum collections in 1764. Until recently, this was the only Batak manuscript in the Library accessible online. However, the complete collection of 37 Batak manuscripts in the British Library has now been fully digitised, thanks to a collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) at the University of Hamburg.……. A full list of the digitised manuscripts is available on the Digital Access to Batak Manuscripts page.” – British Library

These manuscripts were sometimes written bamboo and bone, but mainly on the bark of the alim tree (Aquilaria malaccensis). The bark books, known as pustaha, often contained writings on magic and divination, which were also sometimes illustrated.

You can read the full illustrated blog by Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia, here.

MSS Batak 6, which mostly contains texts on divination in war, especially by use of rambu siporhas, divination based on the position of a double string thrown on the ground. This pustaha has a beautifully carved wooden front cover, but a plain wooden back cover.

Some of these manuscripts also had protective covers, generally of wood, which was sometimes carved. The British Library also has one example, which is made of goat skin. Annabel has also blogged about the covers here.

Fragment of a tapestry weave tunic dated 1532-1700, from Cuzco or Lake

Recently the Art Institute of Chicago held a virtual lecture on Inca Textiles under Colonial Rule. In it Andrew Hamilton, associate curator of Arts of the Americas, examined how “the violent conquest of the Inca Empire by Spanish forces dramatically changed Inca society, their artistic traditions, and the clothes that they wore.” The talk was recorded and is now available here.

On Wednesday 9 March there are two in-person events members may find of interest – one in the UK and one in the US.

The Norfolk Makers Festival will be held from 9-20 March 2022 in Norwich. There will be twelve days of crafting activities, open exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops and talks. There is an excellent events calendar, which you can search using various filters, or just browse. Sevanti Roy, who previously worked in Jaipur for textile companies including Anokhi and Fabindia, but now has a design business based in Norfolk will give a talk entitled From Persia to Norfolk: a talk about the paisley motif. The talk begins at 16:30 and is free.

A new exhibition will be opening that day at the Charles B. Wang Center, Stony Brook University, New York. Curated by Vichai and Lee Chinalai and Jinyoung Jin the exhibition is entitled Auspicious Dreams – Tribal Blankets from Southern China, and is on view until 31 May 2022. “Often made with fine materials, exemplary techniques, and unparalleled artistry, these striking textiles convey the unique identities, statuses, and traditions of diverse Chinese tribal groups.” – University website.

Lee will be giving a talk in the Wang Center Auditorium at 16:00, before the opening of the exhibition.

Vine Leaf, 1896. Designed by May Morris, produced by Morris & Company.

The Art Institute of Chicago currently has an exhibition entitled Morris & Company: The Business of Beauty, which runs until mid June 2022.

I enjoyed reading this blog by Melinda Watt about May Morris, daughter of William, who completed many designs for the family firm. At the tender age of 23 she was responsible for supervising all of the embroidery operations in the company.

I was interested to learn that in “support of female artists and designers, she founded the Women’s Guild for Arts in 1907 to provide the support and networking opportunities they lacked, as they were excluded from the Art Worker’s Guild on the basis of gender.”

New Year, New Textile Events!

On Monday 10 January Dr David Hugus will give a talk on the Evolution of Chinese Rank Badges. David is the author of Chinese Rank Badges: Symbols of Power, Wealth and Intellect in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. These badges were officially worn from 1391 to 1911, and thus illustrate the textile art of China over a span of 600 years.

This will be the first of a two-part talk on the evolution and dating of these badges. It begins at 19:00 PST, which is 03:00 GMT so doesn’t really work for our UK members, but hopefully some of our many overseas members will enjoy it.

Click here for more information and registration details.

Slide ©Dr Dorothy Armstrong

On Thursday 13 January the Hajji Baba Club will host an online lecture by Dr Dorothy Armstrong, the current May Beattie Fellow at the Ashmolean Museum. Her talk is entitled Mrs Beattie and Mr Getty: A Carpet Controversy.

In 1969, May Beattie, a British carpet scholar with no academic affiliation, working from her home in the provincial city of Sheffield, UK, was invited by John Paul Getty, one of the world’s richest men, to catalogue his growing collection of carpets. In the following months, the two strong personalities went head-to-head over their provenance. This quarrel had a direct effect on the collecting practices of what became the world’s richest arts institution, The Getty Museum, and has left open questions about a set of Persian and Indo-Persian carpets. It’s a revealing episode of the interaction of scholarly challenge, collectors’ drive and market practices, played out through a set of beautiful and luxurious carpets.

All of this may sound familiar to OATG members, as Dr Armstrong gave this talk to us last August. It was extremely well-received, and if you missed it a recording is available in the members’ resources area of our website. However you may well want instead to join this online event, as the Q and A session afterwards is sure to be stimulating. The talk begins at 11:00 EST, which is 16:00 GMT, and you can register for it here.

Fragment (Tunic), 1532/1700
Inca; probably Cuzco or Lake Titicaca region, southern highlands, Peru. Bessie Bennett Endowment

On the same day, Thursday 13 January, the Art Institute of Chicago will host an online lecture by Andrew Hamilton entitled Inca Textiles under Colonial Rule. This talk focuses on two fragments of an Inca tunic, explaining “the appearance and usage of the original tunic; the tunic’s elusive designs, called tocapus in Quechua; the European design influences manifested in the garment; and how an elite Indigenous man might have worn such a tunic to express his nobility under colonial rule. Most importantly, this talk will illuminate the knowledge and skills of the tunic’s weavers and show how their work upheld long-standing Inca techniques while also inventing new ones in response to their much-changed lives in the Viceroyalty of Peru.” – AIC website

The talk takes place at 17:00-17:45 CST, which is 23:00-23:45 GMT, and you can register for it here.

The Textile Museum Associates of Southern California begin their 2022 programme on Saturday 15 January with an online talk by Abel Trybiarz, author of Rugs & Art: Tribal Bird Rugs and Others, published in 2017 by HALI. The title of his talk is RUGS & ART: South Persian Tribal Rugs with Birds and Other Creatures.

“The so-called “bird rugs” of the Khamseh Confederation and the Qashqa’i are among the most charming and colorful of figurative rugs of the Southwest Persian tribes. Their rows and columns of birds, and all kinds of other animals including human figures, have been made in an infinite array of combinations and colors, with a huge variety of border motifs. Over many years, Buenos Aires collector Abel Trybiarz has quietly built a previously unknown collection of bird and animal rugs that has at its heart a superb selection of antique knotted-pile rugs, woven by the nomadic tribes of the Khamseh Confederation in southwestern Iran during the 19th century.”

The talk takes place at 10:00 PST, which is 18:00 GMT, and you can register for it here.

Cover of Mea and the Palm Flowers. ©Tracing Patterns Foundation

OATG member Sandra Sardjono of Tracing Patterns Foundation has been instrumental in producing a lovely book for children, telling the story of a little girl called Mea who dreams of wearing a new ikat cloth to the Harvest Festival on the island of Savu in Indonesia. One of the advisors for this book was Geneviève Duggan, who last year talked to our members about the textiles of Savu, in particular those woven by the women of Pedero village, the setting of this book. The book is beautifully illustrated, and half of the proceeds of sales will be going to the weavers – who you may remember suffered dreadfully after Cyclone Seroja. Click here to order this delightful book.

A young girl from Pedero we photographed during one of our many visits to Savu.

I missed Joe Coca’s talk on textile photography last month, so am glad to see that a recording of it is now available on Youtube. In it he talks about the trials and tribulations involved in taking some of the photographs of weavers and people in their traditional dress.

On Thursday 27 January we will hold our Oxford Asian Textile Group AGM via Zoom. It will begin at 18:00 GMT and will be followed by a talk by Sue Stanton, conservator at the Ashmolean Museum. All members should have already received the Zoom link, which will be resent along with the agenda and committee reports well in advance of the meeting.

Video: Hairstyles from the Floating World

 

The exhibition entitled Painting the Floating World – Ukiyo-e Masterpieces from the Weston Collection, which I blogged about here is ending on 27 January.

According to the website of the Art Institute of Chicago the courtesans, geisha, and actors depicted in the ukiyo-e paintings of the 17th -19th centuries were the beautiful people of Edo-period Japan. “The world they moved in, the “floating world” (ukiyo), was all about glamour, sophistication, and style. The fashions they wore reflected not only class and occupation but also trends and individual taste, all of which were focused on the attempt to create an ideal picture of beauty. 

Though the overall look of each individual bijin (beauty) was created by the combination of cosmetics, clothing, and hairstyle, this video focuses on the complicated process and elaborate result of hairstyling. Filmed in a shrine in near Kyoto, the 90-year-old Minami Tomiko, one of the few living masters of the art, recreates three intricate hairstyles”. These are the Kamome tabo or seagull’s tail, the Tōrōbin or lantern locks, and the Yoko hyōgo or butterfly.

It’s amazing to see just how much work went into creating these elaborate styles, and this really brought the world in which these women moved to life.

Click here to view the video.

*****************************

 

Exhibition: Ornamental Traditions – Jewelry from Bukhara

Exhibition dates: 13 July 2018 – 30 June 2019

Located in present-day Uzbekistan, the Emirate of Bukhara (1785–1920) was an important centre of Islamic religion and scholarship and a major oasis on the famous Silk Road that traversed Central Asia from ancient times. As such, it was highly diverse—home to the majority Uzbek and Tajik populations in addition to communities of Arabs, Jews, and Turkmen who played a role in the emirate’s vibrant trade. Over time, Bukhara developed its own iconic style of jewellery characterised by intricate blue enamelwork that mirrored the region’s blue-glazed, tiled architecture. Russia’s colonisation of Bukhara in 1866 brought with it more advanced enamelling techniques, allowing for increasingly complex designs.

In almost every context, the jewellery of Bukhara embodied great meaning and was rarely considered mere decoration. Large, ornate suits of jewellery were thought to protect the wearer from evil spirits, particularly during important events like weddings, and were the strongest assertion of a person’s power and wealth. Throughout Uzbekistan, such objects were designed to be worn as sets rather than exist as singular pieces.

More than fifty pieces of jewellery from the collection of Barbara and David Kipper are currently on show in Gallery 150 of the Art Institute of Chicago.

A gallery talk led by Alice Boone will take place on 27 November 12:00 -13:00.

For further information visit the website of the Art Institute of Chicago