Textile talks and articles from around the world!

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I recently blogged about a lovely book for children, Mea and the Palm Flowers, produced by OATG member Sandra Sardjono of Tracing Patterns Foundation, with the help of Geneviève Duggan and Ice Tede Dara.

Young girl photographed in Pedero, the setting of the book. © David Richardson

Half of all sale proceeds will be donated to the weavers of the Tewuni Rai group, many of whom lost their homes during the devastating Cyclone Seroja last year. If you are a keen weaver, dyer or collector this would make a great gift for the children in your life.

I loved the enthusiasm of this young boy in his short video review of the book, which can be ordered here!

Video of book review

Sonja Mohr of the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Köln has just informed me of this very interesting article on Philippine piña textiles.

Scarf length, Philippines, mid 1800s, Rhode Island School of Design Museum.

Interrogating Translucence: Biological and Cultural Definitions of Piña is by Abi Lua, whose current thesis project explores Philippine piña textile connoisseurship and mentality. Here she discusses some of the difficulties in identifying piña, from both a biological and cultural point of view.

Sea snail and threads dyed with its ink. ©Selvedge

This article by Keith Recker for Selvedge also caught my attention. In it Keith looks at the colour purple and how it is produced by milking sea snails. The illustrations are excellent, and it was interesting to learn how the “community’s way of life was shaped around the making of purple, and the journey to the coast to dye yarns was a major event. A group of dyers would walk eight days to the coast. It was a real journey……. ‘involving several river crossings. The men would carry their own food, and when their tortillas, beans and coffee ran out, they would work in local farms to be reprovisioned. Once they reached their campsite on the coast, they’d stay for about three months before heading back to Pinotepa”. – Selvedge

Obtaining ink from the sac of the sea snail on Ternate. ©David and Sue Richardson
Sage green from the innards is used to dye these threads. © David and Sue Richardson

This reminded me of the marine dyes, which I have seen produced on the small island of Ternate in the Alor archipelago of Eastern Indonesia. There, two different colours – purple and green – are produced from the same creature. The purple comes from the ink sac and the green from the innards, with what remains going into the pot for supper.

A quick reminder that this is your last chance to sign up for a couple of talks taking place online tomorrow, Saturday 12 February. The first is on molas by Tom Hannaher, whose online presentation is entitled Painting With Scissors: Mola Art of the Kuna (Guna) Indians and takes place at 13:00 EST, which is 18:00 GMT. he second is on Uyghur feltmaking with Christine Martens.  It begins at 11:00 EST, which is 16:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

A weaver at work. ©Andean Textile Arts

The first of the 2022 series of Textile Talks, hosted by Andean Textile Arts, takes place next Tuesday 15 February, when the subject will be Textile Traditions of the Peruvian Highlands. Participants will learn “how Andean weavers use corn husks in their weaving, which natural dye was part of the Incan taxation system, why Andean brides often receive handwoven jakimas as wedding gifts, and so much more.” – ATA website

The talk also features a video, narrated by one of the presenters Jennifer Moore. The other presenter is Ercil Howard-Wroth. Click here for more information and to register. Please note this talk begins at 19:00 EST, which is midnight in the UK.

An akotifahana from the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum.

On Wednesday 16 February ORTS will host a Zoom presentation by Dr Sarah Fee of the Royal Ontario Museum entitled Born of the Indian Ocean:The Textile Arts of Madagascar. The ROM hold 54 Madagascan textiles in their collection, some of which date to the nineteenth century. It was interesting to read about the connection with Omani traders and Indian trade cloths, almost reminiscent of the Silk Road connections. 

There is a lot of excellent information, with very good images and some videos on the ROM website, which I strongly recommend to those interested in Malagasy textiles and culture.

The talk takes place at 18:00 GMT. Non-members wishing to attend should contact Dimity Spiller.

Chief or nobleman’s headdress (detail), Congo, 20th century. The Textile Museum Collection 1962.1.15. Textile Museum acquisition.

Sarah is going to be very busy as she also features in the next in the series of talks from the Textile Museum, centred on the latest edition of the Textile Journal, which she guest-edited.

Cécile Fromont of Yale University will be in discussion with Sarah about Kongo textiles, “which are celebrated as masterpieces of exquisite workmanship but garner limited attention in scholarship.”

This talk takes place on Wednesday 16 February at 12:00 EST, which is 17:00 GMT, and you can register for it here.

Hanbok, © Minjee Kim

On Thursday 17 February the Korea Society will host a live webcast by Dr Minjee Kim entitled Hanbok: A new lexicon of women’s fashion.

“In 2021, hanbok – the generic term referring to traditional style Korean clothing – was registered in the Oxford English Dictionary. In this comprehensive series of lectures, Dr. Minjee Kim, the preeminent scholar of Korean textile and fashion in the U.S., illustrates and elucidates hanbok in sartorial, socio-cultural, and historical contexts.

In the first lecture of the series, Dr. Kim discusses some distinctive qualities of women’s hanbok in comparison with other dress traditions; terminologies of the components and their structural parts; colors, materials, and embellishments; and symbols and ideas behind design principles and ways of dress.” – Korea Society

The webcast begins at 18:00 EST, which is 23:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

Working at the loom. ©Susan Schaefer Davis

On Saturday 19 February the Textile Museum associates of Southern California (TMA/SC) will host a presentation by Susan Schaefer Davis. Her subject will be Women Artisans of Morocco: Their Textiles, Their Stories, Their Lives.

Most textile talks focus, naturally, on the textiles themselves, looking at which materials and techniques were used to create them, in which area they were made etc.

“In this talk, anthropologist, and author of Women Artisans of Morocco, Dr. Susan Schaefer Davis, whose work focuses on Moroccan women, their textiles, changing gender roles, and adolescence, will include all of those aspects of textiles, but will also introduce you to the actual Moroccan women who make them. You will meet several of these women virtually, and to see and learn about the unique textiles they produce, the lives in which they produce them, and their thoughts about their work and goals.”

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

Textile with embroidered hummingbirds, early Nasca, Peru 100BC – AD 200 
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Our next OATG online event will take place on Thursday 24 February at 18:30 GMT, and the subject will be Peru: A Journey in Time, based on the exhibition at the British Museum. Cecilia Pardo’s talk will introduce you to some of the extraordinary artefacts produced with incredible skill by the different peoples of the Andes displayed in the exhibition. She will focus on the magnificent textiles drawn from both the British Museum, and collections in Peru and beyond. 

​Helen Wolfe will end with a brief overview of the British Museum collection of Early Andean textiles, numbering over 1,000 pieces. This event is free for OATG members and a very reasonable £3 for non-members, payable via our PayPal account. For more details and registration please click here.

Don’t forget to let me know of any textile-related events or articles you think I should include here!

Pitt Rivers inspiration, Samoan barkcloth, sealskin, Indonesian ikat and more.

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In my most recent blog I shared a lot of information about the textiles of peoples of the Amur area and fish skin clothing in particular. That prompted OATG member Pamela Cross to contact me about a work by leading art quiltmaker Pauline Burbidge.

It was inspired by a visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum, where she saw this Siberian seal skin pictogram.

Sealskin accession number 1966.19.1. © Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

It was collected in the 1860s or 1870s, probably by the captain of an Arctic whaler. It was made by a member of the Chukot/Chukchi culture, and has been described by some authors as a map, and by others as depicting the events of a specific year. Much more information about it can be found on the Pitt Rivers website.

Her second source of inspiration was a display of barkcloths from Samoa. The example below was collected there in 1874 by the Reverend Joseph King.

Barkcloth accession number 1891.61.24. © Pitt Rivers Museum

Pauline’s response to seeing these items was to produce a large quiltscape, incorporating some of these ideas and motifs. She has made a short video, detailing her creative process and I loved seeing the drawings she had made in her notebook, and how they eventually appeared in the finished piece.

Go to her website to see more of her work.

On Saturday 12 February Yorkshire auctioneers Tennant’s will hold a sale of Costume, Accessories and Textiles. While the majority of the lots are Victorian (including some super sewing accessories), there are also several from China, Japan and Eastern Europe. Click here for more details.

A selection of the lots for sale at the auction

A quick reminder that there are also two talks taking place on that day. The first is by Tom Hannaher on the Mola Art of the Kuna Indians, and the second is by Chris Martens on Distinguishing Uyghur Feltmaking.

Tamu Rambu Hamu Eti about to show us some of the textiles in her basket. © David Richardson

I have been travelling to Indonesia regularly for many years now, and one of my favourite destinations is the island of Sumba. We always enjoy going to Rindi, which has a great tradition of producing fine textiles and baskets.

A few years ago Threads of Life, a Bali-based organisation that works with weavers throughout the archipelago, produced a video there with Tamu Rambu Hamu Eti, documenting all of the different stages of the weaving and dyeing process. The video was in Sumbanese, however they have also produced this very useful and informative infographic in English, based on the information gained from the original video.

So much care and attention needs to go into each step, but the results are certainly worth it!

Tamu Rambu Hamu Eti showed us a selection of her textiles. They are all naturally dyed, and the one at the front is woven from handspun cotton. © David Richardson.

While on the subject of Indonesia I would also like to recommend this video, An Indian Loom in Indonesia, produced by OATG members Sandra Sardjono and Chris Buckley, in which they share some of the findings from their paper of the same name which appeared in Fiber, Loom and Technique.

“A loom in use in Balai Cacang village in the Minangkabau region of Sumatra has an unusual warp suspension system, in which the warp is attached to a cord and tensioned around a pole. We show that this system is similar to that used on traditional Indian pit looms, and that it probably crossed the Indian Ocean to Indonesia. Indian influence on Indonesian textile forms is well-documented, but this is the first identification of an Indian loom technology in Indonesia. It implies the presence of Indian craftspeople in Indonesia in the past.” – Fiber, Loom and Technique.

A pdf of the full article can be downloaded here.

Don’t forget to let me know if you hear of events, exhibitions, articles, or anything else you think I should include here!

Molas, Uyghur felt, Suzani and fish skin robes

There are lots of exciting events coming up this month and I’m highlighting a few of them below.

I mentioned in my most recent blog that the OATG have arranged a small group visit to the exhibition Peru: a journey in time at the British Museum on Friday 11 February at 14:00 GMT. Cecilia Pardo, lead curator for the exhibition, will give a short talk in the Great court first. Then our Chair, Helen Wolfe, who has recently retired from her role as Textile Collection Manager at the British Museum will take the group through to the exhibition and be available to answer questions. Our tickets are available at a reduced price of £10, payable on the day to Helen. There are still two places available for this very special visit. To reserve one please email our Secretary Cecilia Lloyd.

A mola in the collection of the British Museum featuring nine squirrels or ‘ukswinni’. These are one of the Kuna’s favourite subjects for molas. © The Trustees of the British Museum
 

On Saturday 12 February Tom Hannaher will give an online presentation on Painting With Scissors: Mola Art of the Kuna (Guna) Indians. This programme is co-sponsored by the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California and the New England Rug Society. The focus of the presentation will be early and middle-period molas (1910-1970) and will include many rare pieces.

“Molas are panels used in blouses worn by women of the Kuna (Guna) culture of Panama and Colombia. Using a combination of applique, reverse applique, and embroidery, Kuna women create dazzling imagery based on Kuna mythology, customs, and daily life. They also seek graphic inspiration from non-Kuna references ranging from political posters to cartoons to advertising campaigns. This presentation by Tom Hannaher will focus on pre-1970 examples and will include a number of unpublished masterpieces, some from the early part of the twentieth century. Many of the pieces are from the collections of Kit Kapp and Ann Parker Neal, two authors of early books on mola art.” – TMA/SC

The talk begins at 10:00 PST, which is 18:00 GMT.

Slightly earlier that same day the Textile Museum will hold its regular Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning by Zoom. The speaker will be Christine Martens and her subject is Distinguishing Uyghur Feltmaking.

“Feltmaking has existed for millennia in the cities and villages of what is now the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwest China — homeland of the Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uyghurs. Archeological discoveries give a sense of this ancient art, which continued to flourish in the oases that dot the southern rim of the Taklamakan desert.

In this virtual talk researcher Christine Martens examines the felt processes and compares Uyghur felt with the traditions of the Turkmen, Kyrgyz and Turks, including gender roles in felt making.

Martens also examines how Uyghur cultural history and the “everyday” exist within the spiritual landscape of southern Xinjiang. She explores the participation in shrine visitation and the use of the “risala,” a treatise or guidebook governing the moral, spiritual and ethical behavior of artisans, to shed light on little-known aspects of Uyghur sacred history and accompanying rituals.” – TM website

Chris has conducted fieldwork and led tours in Central Asia for many years and I’m sure this will be a fascinating programme. It begins at 11:00 EST, which is 16:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

On Thursday 17 February the Hajji Baba Club of New York will be hosting London-based specialist and dealer Ali Istalifi. His online talk is entitled Central Asian Suzani: Understanding the Tradition and Attribution of Silk Dowry Embroideries.

“Over the past half a century, Suzani embroideries of Central Asia have captured the imagination of textile collectors and aficionados around the world. Examples from the late 18th Century up to the early 1900s are now considered as some of the most coveted of all textile arts and most tend to demand high prices at major auctions, antique fairs and galleries.

This talk will explore the aesthetic and artistic merits of these traditional dowry embroideries in order to help understand and appreciate their appeal. By analyzing and categorizing the specific characteristics of design, color, type of stitches and material used to make them, dating and attribution will become easier for both those who are familiar and unfamiliar to this textile art.” – Hajji Baba Club website

The talk begins at 11:00 EST, which is 16:00 GMT . More details and registration available here.

Woman’s festive robe, Nanai people, REM

I recently shared a post from the Russian Museum of Ethnography about clothing from fish skins. The robe (pictured above) was stunning and I wanted to learn more about this type of clothing. It appears that the skins used were mainly those of large salmon, and the clothes produced were lightweight and waterproof. Decorations were added in various forms – appliqué, embroidery, and drawing directly on the garment either freehand or using a stencil. It clearly took months to make a robe such as this.

Tanned fish skin leather  and products made from it. © Kathleen Hinkel

I was delighted to then be directed to this article on The Art of Turning Fish into Leather by Chloe Williams in Hakai magazine. In it she examines how various artists are rediscovering this ancient craft, and explains some of the different methods they have tried – some more successful than others. Coffee, black tea, eggs, alder bark and even urine have all played a part.

The article is also available in audio format here.

Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen. Coll.no. RV-434-1

That led me to another Hakai article, this time by Jude Isabella, called The Secret Language of Salmon Skin Coats. She describes how a Nivkhi woman from the Amur River area would have prepared around 100 salmon skins to make one robe. “She would have scraped away the flesh before washing the skins in salt water (women keeping the craft alive today use soap), then drying and beating the skins before piecing together the coat with thread fashioned from fish skin or sinew.” I was amazed to read how the thread expands when it gets wet, meaning that the holes made by the sewing needle are then filled and the garment becomes watertight – ingenious!

Nanai stencil

Tom Murray (he of the Textiles of Japan: The Thomas Murray Collection fame) then directed me to this website on the Costume of the Peoples of the Lower Amur, which again has lots of useful and fascinating information and images, including a diagram of the coat construction. The author notes how in some instances the fish skin leather has been dropped in favour of woven cloth, but the motifs have remained in the form of appliqué. He also includes many excellent black and white images. Tom has also informed me that the long-awaited Minneapolis Institute of Art exhibit based on his book will open in June and will feature not one but two salmon skin robes!

Exhibitions, talks, fairs and books…….

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One of the rugs currently on show in Santa Fe

The exhibition From Combat to Carpets, the Art of Afghan War Rugs at the Cotsen Gallery, Santa Fe International Folk Art Museum ends on Sunday. It is a travelling exhibition of forty examples, supplemented here by rugs from the museum’s own collection.

“This unique subset of handwoven rugs can teach us about the innovative nature of rug design and production, as well as the long history of foreign involvement in Afghanistan. Rug producers, provoked by decades of traders and invaders in the country, adapted traditional motifs and compositions, translating them into depictions of world maps, tourist sites, weapons, and military figures. Such war rugs have proven popular among occupying military personnel, journalists, foreign aid workers, international collectors, and contemporary art curators. Over the years, rug makers have continued to update popular imagery and themes to reflect current events, changing technologies, and the tastes of potential buyers.” – Museum website.

Through the wonders of modern technology you can visit this exhibition virtually and can also read more on this intriguing subject in this article by the exhibition’s co-curator Annmarie Sawkins.

Ralli quilt created by Mrs Meeran in Ketlari, Tharparkar, Sindh, Pakistan, circa 1985
Hand appliquéd, embroidered, pieced, and quilted
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2006.0001.0005E

The International Quilt Museum at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is currently showing quilts in an exhibition entitled Diverse Traditions: South Asian Quilts. This exhibition will run until 7 October 2021.

“South Asia is rich in quiltmaking traditions. Women have made quilts in this region for centuries and have used them in a multitude of ways: as bed covers, seating mats, tent panels, and dowry items. Varying techniques, color palettes, and formats can be found among different ethnic and regional groups, and certain styles can help identify where a quilt likely was made. In this group of Indian and Pakistani quilts from the International Quilt Museum’s Education Collection, we look at how the techniques of appliqué, piecing, and quilting are used among diverse South Asian communities.” – Museum website.

Make sure you click on ‘Works in the Exhibition’ and then on the images to see the quilts in their full glory.

Details of beadwork and imitation coins on a headdress of a married Palestinian woman.
Collected 1885-1887
1967.28.26

On Saturday 11 September 2021 the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford will host a day of events showcasing Palestinian embroidery and textiles. “Sessions include behind the scenes viewing of selected textiles, screenings of embroidery demonstrations with embroidery kits to take away, including a chart designed by American-born Palestinian artist, Wafa Ghnaim, and drop-in sessions to hear about the Palestinian History Tapestry and view pieces from the tapestry.” – Pitt Rivers Museum. In addition to the in-person events at the museum, there will also be online events for those outside of Oxford.

These events are free, but you do need to book both an event slot and a museum entry slot for the live events. For bookings and further details please click here.

Also taking place on 11 September is World Textile Day Scotland. Great traders who always have a wonderful selection of textiles for sale! For full details click here.

Textile lovers in the London area will be delighted to hear that the next Pop-Up in Pimlico takes place on Wednesday 15 September. This will feature textiles and jewellery from John Gillow, Martin Conlan (aka Slow Loris) and Barbie Campbell Cole, as well as a range of fine contemporary Indian clothing from Antonia Graham. The location is St James the Less Church Hall, Moreton Street, London SW1V 2PF, close to Pimlico tube station and set back from Westminster Bridge Road. Entry is free and this will run from 11:00-18:00.

15 September also sees the opening of a new exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto. And other monuments will run until 14 November 2021, and will be available both in-person and online. This is “an exhibition tracing the movement of the ‘Oriental rug’ and other orientalia in relation to colonial trade, imperial bordering, and power. The exhibition includes an interactive workbook, archival documents, Tatreez (Palestinian cross stitch) by textile artist Samar Hejazi, and an intervention of the British Museum by multidisciplinary artist Roya DelSol. Placed alongside West Asian and Middle Eastern rugs, carpet bags, and other pieces from the Textile Museum of Canada’s permanent collection, And other monumentsinvites a reading of textiles as maps or guides which are capable of tracing broader relationships to who moves, what moves, and how transnational, globalized mobilities of goods have always relied on ‘immobilizations’ of people.” – museum website.

Chloe Sayer and textiles, courtesy of ORTS

On Wednesday 22 September the Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) will host a talk by Chloe Sayer on The Textile Arts of Mexico. Chloe is the author of many books on Mexico, including Textiles from Mexico and Fiesta: Day of the Dead & other Mexican Festivals.

“Contemporary Mexican textiles are among the finest in the Americas. Five centuries have passed since the Spanish Conquest, yet Mexico is still home to more than fifty Indigenous peoples. The arts of spinning, dyeing and weaving are practised in hundreds of rural communities, where distinctive clothing styles endure. Cloth is elaborately patterned and textured on the backstrap loom. After 1521, colonisation brought new materials, treadle-loom weaving, beadwork, and an increased emphasis on embroidery.” – ORTS website.

The talk will be live at the University Women’s Club in Mayfair, London and also streamed via Zoom. If you plan to go to the event or wish to attend via Zoom, please email Dimity Spiller to book a place.

Detail from a Qashqai horse cover circa 1900

On Thursday 23 September at 18:30 BST the OATG will be hosting a Show and Tell session – please note this is for OATG members only. One of the advantages of Zoom is that we can involve some of our many overseas members in this ever-popular event. Members should shortly receive an invitation with full details of this event. This is your chance to get involved, and we are really looking forward to seeing and hearing about a wide range of different textiles. The event will be ably hosted by Gavin Strachan, the editor of our Journal.

The Textile Society of America has several Affinity Groups who meet online to discuss topics of interest. You don’t have to be a TSA member to attend one of these meetings. The Historic and Ancient Textiles group “brings together people engaged in research on heritage textiles, including those recovered archaeologically, held in the collection of a community, university or museum.” – TSA

The next meeting will be on Saturday 25 September at 12:00 EDT, which is 17:00 BST. The presenters will be Amanda Phillips, whose subject is Ottoman textiles, and Christine Martens, who will discuss Uighur Felt making. Saturday 25 September is a busy day for textile lovers. For more information and to join this online event please email Lee Talbot.

Deel (Garment), Mongolia, Early 19th century CE, 2002-15-1. © Penn Museum

Also taking place on 25 September is the opening of a new exhibition at the Penn Museum, Philadelphia, entitled The Stories We Wear. “The clothing, accessories, and decorations we put on our bodies tell stories about who we are. They shape how others see us and how we see ourselves. What we wear can prepare us for important events or transform us into someone new. It may follow tradition or a recent trend. And it can show that we belong or help us stand out. Now and in the ancient past, close to home and far away, the stories we wear connect us. Showcasing 2,500 years of style and adornment through approximately 250 remarkable objects, The Stories We Wear reveals how clothing and accessories offer powerful expressions of identity—examining the purpose and meaning behind what we wear.” – Penn Museum.

On the same day the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California will host a talk by Dr Anne Tiballi of the Penn Museum entitled Threads and Themes of The Stories We Wear. Dr Tiballi was a consultant for the exhibition and in this talk she will “dig deep into several of the exhibitions ‘outfits’, making connections between the technological skill, creativity, and cultural significance of the peoples who made and wore them.  ….. the items she will discuss include a Pre-Columbian Andean warp-patterned tunic, headband, and bag; a Qing Dynasty Chinese court costume; and early 20th century coconut fibre armour from Kiribati, a Mongolian silk deel and boots, and a Hopi wedding dress.” – TMASC

This free talk begins at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST. Please click here to register.

One of the traditional outfits on show. © Alaa Eddine Sagid

Now for something rather unexpected from the Musée Mohammed VI d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Rabat, Morocco. As the name of the museum suggests, the permanent exhibition focuses on modern and contemporary art. However, the temporary exhibitions cover a wide range of subjects. At the moment it highlights the French painter Eugène Delacroix, particularly his travels in Morocco in 1832. An interesting article about his life and travels appeared in Siente Marruecos Magazine. Delacroix collected many objects, including textiles, which he used in his paintings on his return to France. The exhibition cleverly shows some of his sketches, the types of items that appear in them (textiles, ceramics, leather goods) and the finished paintings.

The exhibition opened in July and runs until 9 October 2021.

Romanian newlyweds from Vâcea or Oltenia. Photo from Les 32 Mariages Roumains, 1893. Collection of Maryhill Museum.

Maryhill Museum in Goldendale, WA, is currently holding a special exhibition entitled A Particular Beauty: Romanian Folk Clothing. This will run until 15 November 2021. “When she was Romania’s crown princess (1893–1914), Marie of Edinburgh (later Queen Marie of Romania) began wearing peasant-inspired clothing from the country’s eastern provinces — a fashion trend long promoted by Elisabeth of Wied, Queen of Romania, and her court. A Particular Beauty draws from Maryhill’s collection of more than 450 items of Romanian clothing and textiles. The display will include about 20 fully dressed mannequins, and numerous individual garments such as coats, vests, shirts and blouses.The exhibition will showcase a remarkable variety of Romanian embroidery techniques, mediums, and styles that have evolved through the influences of adjacent ethnic populations, resident invaders, other outsiders, and – in recent decades – urbanization.” – museum website.

There are some really fabulous textiles in this short video. If you cannot see it, please click on the blue title at the top of this blog and view this through our WordPress site.

Finally, next month sees the publication by Prestel of a book every collector of Indonesian textiles is sure to want on their bookshelves. “Gathered over the course of four decades, the Thomas Murray collection of Indonesian textiles is one of the most important in the world…….Geographically arranged, this volume pays particular attention to textiles from the Batak and the Lampung region of Sumatra, the Dayak of Borneo, and the Toraja of Sulawesi, as well as rare textiles from Sumba, Timor and other islands. Readers will learn about the intricate traditions of dyeing, weaving, and beading techniques that have been practiced for centuries.” – Prestel. There are contributions from many leading scholars, including no less than three OATG members. UK members even get the chance to buy this book first, as due to the weight it has to be shipped by sea to the US.

Selected textile events and articles

 

A selection of current and upcoming textile-related events and articles. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but rather a sample of the things that have caught my eye.

 

©British Museum EA71854, Trustees of the British Museum.

Next week the Centre for Textile Research in Copenhagen will host a free two-day programme on The Colour Blue in Ancient Egypt and Sudan. “Since the Neolithic, the colour blue has been highly prized all along the Nile Valley, where its strong relation to the divine is particularly embodied by the god Amun. Blue pigments and dyes occupied a very special place in the visual landscape, where they adorned temples, palaces, statues and people’s bodies thanks to a large repertoire of blue cloths and personal adornments.” – TAES Network at Centre for Textile Research. This interdisciplinary programme includes a presentation on The use of blue in Egyptian garments of the 1st millennium, another on Blue in the iconography and textiles in the medieval kingdom of Makuria (Sudan), and a workshop on Reviving indigo dyeing in Mali: from farming to contemporary arts.

Aboubakar Fofana – master indigo dyer. ©Jonas Ungar

Hole and Corner have a great interview with Aboubakar Fofana, who was born in Mali but grew up in France, in which he discusses indigo dyeing in Ancient Egypt and concludes that “What they were doing 5,000 years ago is the same as I am doing today, and in 100 years’ time we can do the same thing.”

For more details and to register please click here.

Details
3-4 March 2020
Karen Blixens Plads 8
2300 København S
Denmark

 

Lena Bjerregaard, a guest researcher at the Centre for Textile Research, has just published a catalogue of the pre-Columbian textiles from the Roemer-und Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, northern Germany. There are 405 pre-Columbian textiles in the museum collection, of which 133 are represented in this extremely well-illustrated catalogue. “Along the coast of Peru is one of the driest deserts in the world. Here, under the sand, the ancient Peruvians buried their dead wrapped in gorgeous textiles. As organic material keeps almost forever when stored without humidity, light and oxygen, many of the mummies excavated in the last hundred years are in excellent conditions. And so are the textiles wrapped around them.” – Lena Bjerregaard. This catalogue has very generously been made available as a free download which can be accessed here.

 

Curator Oliver Gauert with a selection of textiles, including an Egungun dance costume from Benin. ©Romer-Pelizaeus Museum

In addition to their collection of pre-Columbian textiles, the Romer-Pelizaeus Museum also has extensive holdings from Africa – the focus of their current exhibitions. Voodoo has been curated by Oliver Gauert and also showcases items from other museums such as the Soul of Africa Museum in Essen and the Africa Museum in Berg en Dal. It opened last October and continues until mid-May. ZDF heute journal have produced an excellent video giving an overview of the objects in the exhibition, which includes several textiles.

Details
19 October 2019 – 17 May 2020
Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum
Hildesheim Am Steine 1-2, D-31134 Hildesheim

 

Kaparamip with red cotton fabric border © Textiles of Japan: The Thomas Murray Collection at The Minneapolis Institute of Art

The speaker at the next meeting of the New York-based Hajji Baba Club will be Thomas Murray – a well-respected researcher, collector, dealer and author of several books, the latest being Textiles of Japan: The Thomas Murray Collection.

This talk, entitled Traditional Textiles of Japan, will explore Japan’s rich tradition of textiles, from firemen’s ceremonial robes and austere rural workwear to colourful, delicately-patterned cotton kimono. “The traditional clothing and fabrics featured in this lecture were made and used in the islands of the Japanese archipelago between the late 18th and the mid-20th century. The Thomas Murray collection includes daily dress, workwear, and festival garb and follows the Arts and Crafts philosophy of the Mingei Movement, which saw that modernisation would leave behind traditional art forms such as the handmade textiles used by country people, farmers, and fishermen. The talk will present subtly patterned cotton fabrics, often indigo-dyed from the main islands of Honshu and Kyushu, along with garments of the more remote islands: the graphic bark cloth, nettle fibre, and fish skin robes of the aboriginal Ainu in Hokkaido and Sakhalin to the north, and the brilliantly coloured cotton kimono of Okinawa to the far south.” – Thomas Murray.

Details
Monday 9 March 2020
The Coffee House Club, Sixth Floor, 20 West 44th St, Manhattan, NY

 

 

Japanese textiles – this time focussing on embroidery are the subject of an exhibition currently taking place at the Japanese Foundation in Los Angeles. The exhibition is entitled Melodies of Shining Silk: Japanese Embroidery and features the work of Shizuka Kusano, a leading contemporary textile artist. “Embroidery was initially introduced into Japan from China together with Buddhism.  It became open to the merchant class culture in the Edo period.  As the clothing arts flourished, advanced dyeing and weaving techniques were used to create kimonos and kimono sashes.  Today, a variety of materials are available, enabling various expressions depending on individual originality and ingenuity.” – Japan Foundation website.

Details
15 February – 21 March 2020
The Japan Foundation, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., #100 Los Angeles, CA 90036

 

A day dress from around 1800 and a portrait of Constance Pipelet, 1797. ©Art Institute Chicago

Opening at the end of the month in Chicago is a new exhibition on Western European dress. Fabricating Fashion: Textiles for Dress, 1700-1825 examines how clothing from that period was assembled by hand and looks at the importance of selecting the right fabric. “In the early 18th century, the most fashionable men’s and women’s ensembles were made of richly coloured silks and translucent lace, but by the early 1800s lighter cotton textiles, both plain and printed, became more common. The increase in Europe’s taste for cotton textiles gave rise to intense international competition for technical innovation and control of worldwide markets, which produced a wide variety of beautiful fabrics.” – Art Institute Chicago website.

Some portraits and prints will be presented alongside textiles from the period, thus bringing an extra dimension to them.

Details
28 March – 26 July 2020
Art Institute Chicago, 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603

 

Photo ©Barbara Kaslow.

On a similar note, the new British Galleries will open at The Met in New York next week. These will consist of ten galleries with 11,000 square feet devoted to various forms of British art from 1500-1900 including sculpture, ceramics and textiles. These textiles range from tapestries to embroideries, coats to bed panels.

You could always combine a visit to these galleries with a visit to the Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara exhibition which I blogged about recently.

Details
Opens 2 March 2020
The Met Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028

 

Part of a banner which will be displayed in full at the special event. Photo courtesy The Siam Society.

The Siam Society will be hosting a special event in collaboration with the Thai Textile Society in late March. On display will be several painted Vessantara Jakata scrolls from the collection of ML Pawinee Santisiri. These banners range in length from 30 to 50 metres and this will be a unique opportunity to see them opened and displayed in full. They are usually used during the Boon Phra Ves festival – a very important Buddhist ceremony.

Details
Saturday 21 March 2020
1.30pm–4pm (Registration opens at 1pm.)
The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21
Members and Students THB 200,  Non-Members THB 300

 

Image courtesy of IMDB

The Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) will be screening a 1976 film entitled People of the Wind about Bakhtiari migrations. This film is a sequel to Grass, a classic silent film made in 1925 by three Americans who made their way across Turkey and Iraq to meet the Bakhtiari in their winter quarters and follow them and their flocks over swollen rivers and up over snow-covered mountain passes to reach their summer pastures.  Following the same route with descendants of the same people, People of the Wind shows what has changed and what has stayed the same over the intervening decades.

“There are two hundred miles of raging rivers and dangerous mountains to cross. There are no towns, no roads, no bridges. There is no turning back. The Bakhtiari migration is one of the most hazardous tests of human endurance known to mankind. Every year, 500,000 men, women and children – along with one million animals – struggle for eight grueling weeks to scale the massive Zagros Mountains in Iran – a range which is as high as the Alps and as broad as Switzerland – to reach their summer pastures. The film’s astonishing widescreen photography and brilliantly recorded soundtrack take the viewer out onto the dangerous precipices of the Zardeh Kuh mountain and into the icy waters of the Cholbar River.” – Fiona Kelleghan

The film will be presented by Antony Wynne who lived in rural Iran for many years. Click here for more details.

Details
Wednesday 18 March 2020, 19:00.
The University Women’s Club, 2 Audley Square, South Audley Street, London, W1K 1DB

 

Hanbok: The Colours of Korean Lunar New Year

Hanbok: The Colours of Korean Lunar New Year is an exhibition in Sydney, Australia, co-presented by the Korean Cultural Centre and the Hanbok Advancement Center in South Korea. It introduces “many different kinds of hanbok, the traditional garment worn by Korean people on many traditional and family occasions including seollal, Korea’s Lunar New Year. In this exhibition, the KCC will showcase the colourful, eye-pleasing attire highlighting various forms of seolbim or ttae-ttae-ot referring to a new set of hanbok prepared on Lunar New Year’s Day.” – The Asian Arts Society of Australia.

Details
5 February – 13 March 2020
Korean Cultural Centre, Ground Floor, 255 Elizabeth St., Sydney.

 

Woollen tunic, 700-800 AD. © Bolton Museum and Art Gallery.

Back in the UK I was fascinated to read of the amazing collection of Egyptian textiles at Bolton Museum and Art Gallery. The spinning mule was invented in Bolton by Samuel Crompton in the 1780s and over the following century Bolton became famous as a textile production centre. “The first two curators of the Chadwick Museum in Bolton, William Midgley (curator 1881-1908) and his son Thomas Midgley (curator 1908-1934), were specialists in the study of ancient textiles. In some cases, they provided excavators with an assessment of the textiles found at a particular site in return for a share of the finds. As a result, Bolton’s ancient textile collection has a known archaeological context which makes them especially significant for study.” – Museum website. These curators were fascinated by the fact that the people of Ancient Egypt were producing such high quality fabrics thousands of years ago despite not having access to modern technology.

 

©visitmanchester.com

I highly recommend reading this article by Emily Oldfield which gives a great overview of the museum and certainly made me want to head over there.

Details

Bolton Museum, Le Mans Crescent, Bolton, BL1 1SE

 

Layout of pattern with prefelt – beginning to fill in with fleece, Khotan. ©Christine Martens

Finally the March programme from the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMASC) is a talk by Christine Martens, an expert on Central Asian felts and patchwork.

“Felt-making has existed for millennia in the cities and villages of what is now the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwest China, homeland of the Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uyghurs. Archeological discoveries give a sense of this ancient art, which continues to flourish in the oases that dot the southern rim of the Taklamakan. Christine Martens will … examine the processes, and tools that distinguish Uyghur felt from those of the Turkmen, Kyrgyz, Turks and Mongolians” – TMA/SC newsletter.

Details
Saturday 21 March 2020 09:30am
Luther Hall, St Bede’s Episcopal Church, 3590 Grand View Blvd., Los Angeles

For further information please email info@tmasc.org

 

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Article: Kelaghayis of Azerbaijan

Photo copyright of Christine Martens and reproduced with her kind permission.

The kelaghayi (kelagayi/kalaghayi) is a traditional silk scarf made in Azerbaijan. In 2014 this was added  to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This video was made by Asif Abramov and Rena Ibrahimbeyova to support the process of adding kelaghayi to this list.

These fine silk headcovers have been produced in Azerbaijan for generations. In 1862 Nasir Abdulaziz from Basgal showed his kelaghayis at the International Exhibition in London, gaining a silver medal for his work. In the mid-nineteenth century the Russian painter Grigory Grigoryevich Gagarin depicted a woman from Shamakhi (probably a musician or dancer) wearing a kelaghayi over a small cap, in the local style.

“Woman of Shamakhi” by Grigory Grigoryevich Gagarin

The silk scarf provided warmth in the cold weather, and protected the wearer from the heat in hot weather. It was produced in a variety of colours. Many believe that older women tended to wear darker colours, while younger women preferred lighter ones. Red was associated with weddings, and black with mourning – with scarves sometimes being used to cover the deceased too. It was tied in a variety of different ways, depending on the region. There were many beliefs associated with the production of these scarves – people should not enter the silkworm-incubation premises wearing gold or silver jewellery or a wristwatch, the scarves should never be folded with the pattern on the outside etc, etc.

Although these scarves used to be made throughout Azerbaijan, production is now centred on Sheki and Basgal. Basgal is also the home of the Kelagayi museum, the walls of which are decorated with some of the traditional motifs used on the scarves.

 Photo copyright of Christine Martens and reproduced with her kind permission.

The scarf shown below was bought by the author in Khiva, Uzbekistan, from an Azerbaijani shop owner. It was made in the Sheki Ipek Kombinat named after Lenin, in Sheki. At one time this was one of the largest silk-weaving centres in the Soviet Union, employing 7,000 people at its peak. The factory closed after the collapse of the USSR in 1995. The twin towns of Sheki and Shamakhi have been silk-weaving centres since medieval times and in the early twentieth century there were 127 silk mills in the Sheki region, employing 3,500 people. The seller told me that scarves such as mine date to the 1970s, but I haven’t been able to verify that.

The patterns on the kelaghayi are produced using a resist technique. They are applied using stamps which were traditionally carved from pear or walnut wood, but were often also made of metal.

Photo copyright of Christine Martens and reproduced with her kind permission.

These stamps are dipped in a mixture of paraffin, resin and solid oil, before being carefully applied to the surface of the silk cloth. Various natural dyes are used to colour the cloths, before the wax is removed with hot water.

Photo copyright of Christine Martens and reproduced with her kind permission.

Obviously the workload and time needed to produce such scarves is increased if several different colours are used. Kelaghayi with six or seven colours were perceived as the most valuable and desirable and are still being produced in Basgal today. Versions of traditional kelaghayi produced in China using synthetic fabric are now entering the market, providing stiff competition for the workshops who produce silk scarves in the time-honoured way.

Similar scarves seem to have been produced in other areas too. The author bought this one in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in 2001. It had been made in a factory in Chardzhou in the east of the country. The factory had closed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Many thanks to Christine Martens for allowing me to reproduce some of the photos she took in Basgal following the “Intersections in felt” Symposium in October 2018.

Some fabulous images, along with an interview with a workshop-owner which really gives a sense of the working conditions, can be seen in an article by Samra Sadraddinli on the Chai Khana website here.

More background information for this article comes from this piece by Emil Eyyabov for the Azerbaijan State News Agency, this article  by Valentina Reznikova for Region Plus, and finally this article by Afat Rustamayova and Ruslan Huseynov on irs-az.com.

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