Exhibition dates: 13 November 2018 – 27 January 2019, Tuesdays to Sundays
This exhibition at the Museum Rijswijk, near The Hague, is showing objects from the collection of Mieke Gorter. For years, together with her ethnic Dong tour operator and guide Wu Zeng Ou, Gorter has organised cultural tours through south-western China where the Miao and Dong people live. She has always kept her eyes open for hidden treasures and has built a beautiful collection of costumes, jewellery, accessories and utilitarian objects.
Several ethnic minorities live in the mountainous southwest region of China, in the province of Guizhou. The Miao are one of the largest groups (9 million people) and live throughout this area along with other minority groups like the Dong (3 million). Over the centuries the Miao migrated throughout the southern part of China and in all of the different villages where they settled they developed their own form of dress. There are some 175 to 200 different kinds of traditional Miao costumes! The groups are often named on the basis of their clothing. For example, there are the Long-horn Miao, the Long-skirt Miao, the Red-embroidery Miao and the Tin- embroidery Miao. While the Miao usually live in the mountains, the Dong can be found near the rivers. They are renowned for their beautiful wooden bridges and towers.
Among the Miao and the Dong there is always a reason to celebrate something – a wedding, the birth of a child, a finished house – and they wear their traditional clothing on these occasions. The women are prolific in their artisanal crafts, such as weaving, painting with indigo dyes, batik techniques and embroidery (this is what they are most famous for). Headdress, collars, jackets, skirts, aprons and baby carriers, everything is extravagantly embroidered. The festive garb is then lavished with ornate silver hairpins and necklaces.
For more information visit the website of the Museum Rijswijk
Event date: Wednesday 19 September, 19:00.
This event, run by the Oriental Rug and Textile Society, features John Abbate of Bluehanded talking about how the ancient cultural heritage of hand-printed fabrics has a rich history and exciting contemporary future. Artisanal traditions of naturally dyed indigo ‘Lan Yin Hua Bu’ textiles are used for interior decor and fashion design. All the work is done by the hands of an Indigo Master and his family using locally sourced materials, which makes the fabric sustainable and ethical.
The dyeing technique, which has been unchanged for centuries, involves applying traditional hand-cut decorative patterns to natural cotton. Coating the fabric in soybean and lime paste, before soaking in specially formulated vat dyes, gives the timeless blue and white finish. Traditionally used as wedding gifts in the form of bedding and cloth bags, the patterns bestow auspicious wishes such as good luck, long life and wellbeing.
After 25 years of retail design experience with Ralph Lauren, Levi’s and Alfred Dunhill John moved to China as a retail brand consultant where he stumbled upon a beautiful blue and white cloth in the rubble of a Hutong in China. This discovery served as a starting point for his textile company. To John, luxury is in the unique perfect imperfection, individuality and craftsmanship that goes into the making each length of fabric. He works with designers to create new patterns that keep the ancient traditions alive.
Location: St James Piccadilly Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL
“For a Dong family, having a loom is just as important as having a cow,” said Lai Lei, the founder of a weaving and dyeing co-op in a nearby village. “As children, we grow up listening to the sound of the loom.”
This article looks at the attempts to keep the tradition of indigo dyeing and polishing alive in Guizhou province, southern China. The cloth is dyed evry day for two weeks and then has an application of either cowhide extract or egg whites. The shine is achieved by hitting the cloth repeatedly with a wooden mallet. Deep indigo-stained hands are a badge of honour.
To read the full article please visit the website of The New York Times
Exhibition dates: 30 July 2017 – 7 January 2018
‘How to Make the Universe Right’ presents a large selection of rare religious scrolls, ceremonial clothing and ritual objects of the Yao, Tày, Sán Dìu, Cao Lan, Sán Chay, Nùng and other populations of northern Vietnam and southern China. Each group has their own traditions of educating and initiating priests and shamans, who serve as intermediaries between the physical and spiritual worlds and between the community and deities, in order to make the universe right through healing, balancing the forces of nature, and communicating with ancestors. The Yao’s practices are most prominently associated with Daoism, a religious and philosophical tradition of Chinese origin, while for the other peoples, Daoist beliefs are combined with aspects of Buddhism, Tantrism and Confucianism.
The works of art in the exhibition, most of which date to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, provide the material foundation for the regional manifestations of religious practices. Examples in the exhibition include vibrantly coloured and intricately embroidered ritual robes and headdresses worn by priests, and a spectacular set of eighteen scrolls of elaborately painted deities, made for those engaged in the higher levels of initiation. The exhibition also features a display evoking the shrines constructed for ceremonies, a film on contemporary religious practices in the region, and a selection of scrolls highlighting their recent conservation and what this has revealed.
All of the works on view are part of the Barry and Jill Kitnick Collection generously donated by the Kitnicks to the Fowler Museum at UCLA in 2015.
For more information, visit the website of the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, USA.
Event date: Saturday 14 October 2017, 2:15–4pm
Talk by Iain Stephens followed by a show and tell session – you are welcome to bring your own Shidong Miao pieces!
This talk will explore the seemingly endless creativity of the Shidong Miao employed on festival jackets. It will share insights into the sexuality of weaving and embroidery as well as essential pattern hierarchies.
Iain Stephens is a currently a master upholsterer, and previously a lecturer of biochemistry and English and tutor of Biblical Hebrew. Iain is an avid collector of Xhosa beadwork, Chinese ethnic minority costume and Taiwanese budaixi puppets. He presently lives on a narrowboat in Oxford.
Before the talk, a viewing at the Eastern Art Study room will display Miao textiles from the Ashmolean collection.
Location: Ashmolean Museum, Jameel Center Study Room 1 (for the viewing) and the Education Centre (for the presentation)
Time: 2.15–3pm (viewing) and 3.10pm (presentation)
OATG events are free for members and £3 for non-members.
For more information, and to book a place at this event, visit the Eventbrite page.
Event dates: 16–17 September 2017
To see the full programme, visit the conference website (link below). There will be presentations on a wide range of different topics, from ‘Textile furnishings at the English Court 1300–1470 AD’ to ‘Silk as power at the Byzantine court’ to ‘Evidence of precious cloths in the Javanese Singbasari court of King Krtanagara (1258–1292)’ and ‘Transformations of motifs on Ming court robes (14th–16th century)’.
The closing date for bookings is 31 August, so if you’re interested in attending this conference, don’t miss out.
For more information, visit the website of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge.
Event date: Tuesday 9 May 2017, 6–8 pm
This talk will discuss the ingenious patterning systems that Tai weavers use, and will show how their influence has been felt from imperial Chinese silk workshops in the east to the development of computing in the west. It will be illustrated with outstanding Tai textiles from China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Chris Buckley was educated at Balliol and Wolfson Colleges in Oxford. He has spent the last two decades living in Asia, and now lives in Oxfordshire. He is the co-author of The Roots of Asian Weaving (Oxbow Books, 2015) with Eric Boudot.
Location: The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS.
Admission is free for members, £3 for non-members.
For more information, and to register for your place, visit the Eventbrite page.
Exhibition dates: 17 November 2016 – 9 April 2017
From birth to death, humans are wrapped in cloth worn for survival, but more importantly, wear clothing as an external expression of their spiritual belief system, social status and political identity. This stunning exhibition will explore clothing’s inherent evidence of human ingenuity, creativity and skill, drawing from the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology’s textile collection — the largest collection in western Canada — to display a global range of materials, production techniques and adornments across different cultures and time frames.
Curated by Dr Jennifer Kramer (Vancouver Museum of Anthropology Curator, Pacific Northwest), Layers of Influence will entrance visitors with large swaths of intricate textiles often worn to enhance the wearer’s prestige, power and spiritual connection, including Japanese kimonos, Indian saris, Indonesian sarongs, West African adinkra, adire and kente cloth, South Pacific barkcloth, Chinese Qing dynasty robes, Indigenous Northwest coast blankets, Maori feather cloaks and more.
A sumptuous feast for the eyes, the exhibition is an aesthetic and affective examination of humanity’s multifaceted and complex history with cloth and its ability to amplify the social, political and spiritual influence of the wearer as a functional expression of self-identity.
For more information, visit the website of the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada.
Exhibition dates: open until 9 October 2016
Drawn entirely from The Met’s collection, this exhibition in New York examines these luxury textiles from artistic and technical points of view. It is organized in two rotations. The first focuses on costumes used in dramas based on historical events, and the second will feature costumes from plays derived from legends and myths. The presentation showcases eight robes, each of which was created for a specific role – court lady, official, general, monk, nun and immortal. A set of album leaves faithfully depicting theatrical characters wearing such robes is also displayed.
The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed a flowering of Chinese drama. Under the patronage of the Qing court (1644–1911), performances – including the ‘Peking Opera’ – filled the Forbidden City in Beijing. A form of traditional Chinese theatre, Peking Opera was developed fully by the mid-nineteenth century, and because of the form’s minimal stage settings and the importance of exaggerated gestures and movements, costume played an unusually significant role.
This exhibition includes superb examples with interior markings indicating their use in court productions.
For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.