Event: Colourful Banjara Textiles from the British Museum’s Reserve Collection at Blythe House, Olympia

Event date: Wednesday 19 April 2017, 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

The Banjara are a semi-nomadic people who, prior to the construction of roads and railways, provided long-distance bullock caravans of goods across India. They are known for their vibrant clothing and domestic textiles in shades of rich yellow ochre and red madder decorated by mirrors, embroidery, applique and shells. This event will be presented by the British Museum’s T. Richard Blurton, Head of the South and Southeast Asia Section, and textile gallery owner (and OATG member), Joss Graham.

See Asian Textiles magazine #64 (June 2016) for a review of a new book on the Banjara: Textiles of the Banjara.

Event location: Blythe House, Olympia, London (more details on access provided when booking).

Please note that numbers for this event are strictly limited and advanced registration is essential. Places will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

For more information, and to register for your place, visit the Eventbrite page.

Event: Two-Day Conference on Assam – Textile Transmission and the Performance of Dance

British Museum - Krishna in the Garden of Assam

Event dates: 8–9 July 2016

This two-day conference, to be held at the British Museum, will respond to the current exhibition in Room 91, Krishna in the Garden of Assam: The Cultural Context of an Indian Textile.

It will consider Assamese textiles, trade and contact through the Himalayas from north-east India to Tibet, and the performance traditions that connect the ancient Krishna-related textiles with modern Assamese culture. The conference will include an exhibition viewing and reception.

Among the speakers will be Rosemary Crill, speaking about Indian woven silks in Tibet.

Tickets are £20.

For more information, and to download the conference schedule or book a place, visit the website of the British Museum, London.

Event: OATG Visit to ‘Life and Sole – Footwear from the Islamic World’ at the British Museum

British Museum - Life and Sole, Footwear from the Islamic World (talks)

Event date: 27 April 2016, 1:30–2:30pm

Last chance to reserve a place! There are still 10 spaces left for this OATG event next week.

Join the OATG for a privileged tour of this wonderful exhibition of around 25 pairs of shoes, slippers, sandals, clogs and boots from North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, Central Asia and South Asia, shown together for the first time, with curator Fahmida Suleman and conservator Barbara Wills.

Meet at the British Museum at 1.20pm inside the entrance of the John Addis Gallery of the Islamic World (Room 34). Tour to begin at 1.30pm.

OATG members free, non-members £3. Coat check available at the museum for £1.50 per item. The exhibition is free and continues until 15 May 2016.

Please RVSP to the OATG events organisers (oatg.events@gmail.com) so that they have an idea of numbers attending in advance.

Event: Visit to ‘Life and Sole – Footwear from the Islamic World’ at the British Museum, with Curator Fahmida Suleman and Conservator Barbara Wills

British Museum - Life and Sole, Footwear from the Islamic World

Men’s leather shoes embroidered with gold thread. Pakistan, 1900–1930s. As1987,06.2.a-b. Copyright British Museum.

Event date: Wednesday 27 April 2016, 1.30–2.30pm

Join us for a privileged tour of this wonderful exhibition of around 25 pairs of shoes, slippers, sandals, clogs and boots from North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, Central Asia and South Asia, that are being shown together for the first time.

Fahmida Suleman is Phyllis Bishop curator for the Modern Middle East and is responsible for the museum’s outstanding collection of ethnographic objects and textiles from the Middle East and Central Asia. She also has historic links with Oxford having obtained her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Islamic Art and Archaeology from the University of Oxford.

Barbara Wills is Conservator of Organic Artefacts and worked on items displayed in this exhibition. Barbara works on a wide range of organic materials and specialises in the conservation of leather, basketry materials and Ancient Egyptian objects.

Meet at 1.20pm inside the entrance of the John Addis Gallery of the Islamic World (Room 34), British Museum. Tour to begin at 1.30pm. There will be time to visit other exhibits and the café afterwards.

OATG members free, non-members £3. Coat check available at the museum for £1.50 per item. The exhibition is free and continues until 15 May 2016.

Please RVSP to oatg.events@gmail.com so we have an idea of numbers attending in advance.

Events: Two Talks about BM Exhibition ‘Life and Sole: Footwear from the Islamic World’

British Museum - Life and Sole, Footwear from the Islamic World (talks)

Event dates: ‘Life and Sole: Footwear from the Islamic World’, Thursday 3 March 2016, 13:15pm

‘A Long Journey: My Footwear Collection from the Islamic World’, Monday 14 March 2016, 13:30pm

Both talks will be given by Fahmida Suleman, curator of the British Museum’s current exhibition ‘Life and Sole: Footwear from the Islamic World’.

In the second talk, Suleman will be in conversation with William (Boy) Habraken, curator at the Shoes or No Shoes (SONS) Museum, Belgium, and Guinness World Record holder of the world’s largest collection of tribal and ethnic footwear (3,357 pairs and counting!).

Both talks are free, but the second one requires that you reserve a place in advance.

For more information, visit the website of the British Museum, London.

Exhibition: Krishna in the Garden of Assam – The Cultural Context of an Indian Textile

British Museum - Krishna in the Garden of Assam

Exhibition dates: 21 January – 15 August 2016

Discover a little-known chapter of Indian history through the largest surviving example of an Assamese devotional textile, the ‘Vrindavani Vastra’.

The Vrindavani Vastra (literally ‘the cloth of Vrindavan’) was produced in Assam in north-eastern India sometime in the late seventeenth century. It is made of woven silk and figured with scenes from the life of the Hindu god Krishna during the time he lived in the forest of Vrindavan. It was made to be used in the Krishna cult which developed following the ministry of the Assamese saint Shankaradeva (d. 1568).

At over nine metres long, this Assamese textile is the largest of its type to survive. It is made up of twelve strips, all now sewn together. The Krishna scenes on the textile are from the tenth-century text the Bhagavata Purana, and are elaborated in the dramas of Shankaradeva. A verse from one of these is also woven into the textile, using immensely sophisticated weaving technology, now extinct in India. Following its use in Assam the textile had a second history in Tibet. It was found there by Perceval Landon during the Younghusband Expedition sent from British India to Lhasa in 1903–1904. Landon, a friend of Rudyard Kipling, was the correspondent from The Times on the expedition, and he gave the textile to the British Museum in 1905.

For more information, visit the website of the British Museum, London.

Exhibition: Egypt – Faith after the Pharaohs

British Museum - Post-Pharaonic Egypt

Exhibition dates: 29 October 2015 – 7 February 2016

Discover Egypt’s incredible journey over twelve centuries, as Jews, Christians and Muslims transformed this ancient land. It is a story charting the change from a world of many gods to the worship of one god.

The exhibition begins in 30 BC, when Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire after the death of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and continues until AD 1171 when the rule of the Islamic Fatimid dynasty came to an end. The remarkable objects in the exhibition have been uniquely preserved in Egypt’s arid climate, and many have never been on display before. Their survival provides unparalleled access to the lives of individuals and communities, and they tell a rich and complex story of influences, long periods of peaceful coexistence, and intermittent tension and violence between Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The state’s use of religion to assert power is shown by fabulous sculptures that mix ancient Egyptian and Roman imperial iconography, and letters on papyrus concerning the treatment of Jews and early Christians. Gravestones and architectural elements demonstrate the reuse and reworking of sacred spaces – temple complexes were reused as churches and, later, mosques.

The changes in people’s private lives are shown through everyday objects – delicate fragments of papyrus preserve some of the earliest surviving Jewish scriptures and lost Christian gospels. Colourful garments and accessories show what people wore, and soft-furnishings show how they dressed their homes. A particular textile highlight of the exhibition is an extraordinary pair of Coptic door curtains (see detail pictured above). These were reused as a burial shroud, hence how they have survived until now.

Together, the objects in the exhibition show how the shift from the traditional worship of many gods to monotheism affected every part of life. Egypt’s journey from Roman to Islamic control reflects the wider transformation from the ancient to medieval world, a transition that has shaped the world we live in today.

For more information, visit the website of the British Museum, London.