On 10 December 2018 a Symposium in Conservation Science was held at the British Museum in London, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Department of Scientific Research of the British Museum hosted this symposium about the scientific investigation of Asian textiles in museum collections. There was a particular focus Chinese textiles, but there were also contributions covering other geographical provenances along the Silk Road. The symposium featured scientific research recently carried out on Dunhuang textiles from the British Museum’s collection. The focus of the workshop was the importance of different scientific approaches and analytical techniques to the study of weaving, fibres and dyes in Asian textiles. Comparisons between the information that can be obtained with non-invasive and invasive approaches were encouraged, as well as how this information relates to conservation challenges and display decisions.
The programme covered such diverse topics as Silk Road Thangka Textiles from the Sven Hedin Collection, Investigating Asian colourants in textiles from Dunhuang in the British Museum, and Silk, wild silk and half silk textiles from Palmyra – New scientific approaches. The full programme can be viewed here
A Book of Abstracts for the event has now been made available for download. These abstracts should certainly whet the appetite of textile enthusiasts and scholars alike!
Tim Clark, Head of the Japanese section in the Department of Asia, British Museum, recounts the discovery of a previously unknown painting by Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro. In this article he takes a closer look at this rare artwork, recounts how he examined its authenticity, and how it found its way into the Museum’s collection.
Courtesans (high ranked sex workers) were expected to provide glamorous and cultivated company, as well as sexual services, to those wealthy clients who could afford the extravagant expense. In reality though, their lives could be harsh. In Utamaro’s art this exploitation was only rarely alluded to, although it was significant at the time that he represented it at all.
To read the full article visit the website of the British Museum
19th century headdress from Palestine
The newly opened Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic world represents an exciting new vision, displayed across two magnificent refurbished galleries at the heart of the British Museum, London. The British Museum’s Islamic collection comprises a broad and diverse spectrum of the material culture produced from the seventh century to the present day in the Islamic world, a series of regions stretching from West Africa to Southeast Asia. From archaeological material to contemporary art, from the paintings and vessels made for royal patrons to the evocative objects of daily life, this new Gallery brings together the stories of interconnected worlds across time and geography.
There is a huge amount of information available on the website of the British Museum. This includes blogs on conservation, information on how the collection was formed and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to view every single object from the Gallery. You can do a general search, or view the objects contained in each case, such as Case 4 Islam in Africa: Kano to Zanzibar. This is indeed a fascinating rabbit hole to get lost down……
Event date: 12 June 2018 13:00-14:00, Oxford UK
Stories of the Buddha’s many lives have long been essential in Burmese art, and occupying pride of place is the tale of Vessantara’s generosity. This talk by Dr Alexandra Green of the British Museum explores these narrative representations and the role they play more broadly in Burmese religious rituals. This talk is linked to the current exhibition on The Tale of Prince Vessantara, showing in Gallery 29 until September 2018
For further information visit the website of the Ashmolean Museum
Event Date: – 2 June 2018 10:00-16:30, Banbury.
The World Textile Day team write: Arriving in King’s Sutton two years ago, how could we have known that Oxfordshire would turn out to be such hotbed of world textile fans? – We at the Oxford Asian Textile Group are certainly among them!
In 2018 World Textile Day Central is shaping up to be really something. Focusing on the theme Working Together, the SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER will be Chris Spring, curator of the British Museum’s Africa collection. Chris will speak on Social Fabric: Textiles and Teamwork in East and Southern Africa. There will also be a Fair Trade Market showcasing a wide variety of textiles.
Free parking available on site!
For more details visit the World Textile Day website
Books on textiles or carpets are often organised by geographical region and therefore styles, types of dyes or knots. Fahmida Suleman, curator for the Modern Middle East at the British Museum, has upended that tradition to show the links between the objects and their purpose.
“I’m looking at the social history, how these textiles relate to a person and their everyday life,” she said in an interview. “It’s not just what you wear but what surrounds you. It includes amulets you carry with you, prayer rugs and contemporary works of art that people use to convey a message about the politics of their time.”
Suleman’s new book, “The Fabric of Life: Textiles of the Middle East and Central Asia,” is therefore organised by themes: childhood; marriage and ceremony; status and identity; religion and belief; house and homestead; politics and conflict.
The book, published by Thames & Hudson in collaboration with the British Museum, has lavish photographs of more than 200 pieces. These are among 3,000 held by the museum.
To read the full review visit the website of The Arab Weekly
The book is available from The British Museum website here
Exhibition dates: 17 April – 3 Sepember 2017
A partnership exhibition created between Chepstow Museum and the British Museum explores the origins, stories and meanings of woven silk temple textiles from seventeenth-century north-east India. A stunning example is from Monmouthshire Museums’ own collections – an elegant eighteenth-century gentleman’s dressing gown, its magnificent lining made from this rare group of Assamese textiles – only about twenty examples survive today.
They are known as Vrindavani Vastra, which means the cloth of Vrindavan, a forested region in north India where the Hindu god Krishna is believed to have lived as a young cowherd early in his eventful life. Dramatic scenes from Krishna’s life are woven into these vibrant strips of cloth. The same scenes feature in dance dramas performed with elaborate masks that are still distinctive to the region. Masks made by monks and textiles have been loaned by the British Museum, and two beautifully illustrated pages from the finest Assamese manuscript in the British Library are also in the exhibition. The scene is set with some stunning film made in Assam featuring the masked dramas in preparation and performance. (A Textile Society grant made the exhibition of the gentleman’s ‘banyan’ possible.)
This exhibition is taking place at Chepstow Museum, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, NP16 5EZ.
Open: Monday to Sunday, 11–4.
For more information, visit the website of Chepstow Museum.
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 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 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that they have an idea of numbers attending in advance.