More textile events in January

Our friends at the Oriental Rug and Textile Society of Great Britain (ORTS) begin their 2022 programme at 19:00 GMT on Wednesday 19 January with a lecture by Dr Steven Cohen. The subject of his talk is Indian carpets of the Deccan and the South.

“The problem with Deccani carpets is that their characteristic features rarely conform to a single set of clear, unwavering guide-lines. Visually and structurally, some Deccani carpets more closely resemble their Persian counterparts. Others are woven with materials and structures consistent with those of standard North Indian carpets. This extremely confusing situation is only now becoming slightly less opaque by the recognition, during the last few years, of small but significant Deccani stylistic, structural, and aesthetic characteristics (admittedly only minor features) which are beginning to allow us to tentatively assign a “Deccani” provenance to carpets whose origins would otherwise remain unresolved.” – ORTS website

This lecture will take place in person at the University Women’s Club in Mayfair and is free for ORTS members and £7 for non-members. The talk will take place simultaneously by Zoom. If you wish to attend online please contact the Membership Secretary Dimity Spiller.

On Thursday 20 January 2022 the Folk Arts Center of New England will host an online talk by Dr Ron Wixman on the subject of Balkan Costumes.

“In Balkan Romania and in Macedonia women considered their handwork and the making of their festive clothing to be marks of their personal value; by far the most heavily embroidered women’s costumes in Europe are found in these two regions. Girls and women grew or raised the materials necessary to make clothing – flax for linen, cotton, wool for fibers and embroidery thread – while men raised the sheep for sheepskin jackets and bodices.

In this presentation, Ron will explain the role of women and clothing-making in the Balkans and why and how they have developed these elaborately decorated and embroidered festive and bridal costumes, and will discuss how the fibers (linen, cotton, wool, silk) were made, spun, woven/felted, and then decorated with embroidery.” – FAC website.

The talk will take place at 19:00 EST, which unfortunately is midnight GMT. More information and a link to register can be found here.

Woman’s shirt or tunic, Swat Valley, Pakistan, late 19th/early 20th century, Karun Thakar Collection, London

I’m sure lots of our members in the US are eagerly awaiting the opening on Saturday 22 January of the new exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington DC featuring textiles from the Karun Thakar collection. Entitled Indian Textiles – 1000 years of art and design this exhibition will showcase some stunning pieces, including an eighteenth century palampore from the Coromandel coast and a fifteenth century narrative cloth from Gujarat.

“The Indian subcontinent is home to some of the world’s most ancient and illustrious textile traditions. Over the centuries, Indian textile artists have developed an enduring design vocabulary – from simply woven stripes to floral motifs to complex narrative scenes. Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design presents a stunning array of fabrics patterned with India’s most distinctive designs: abstract, floral and figurative.” – TM website 

This exhibition runs from 22 January to 6 June 2022.

Although our UK members won’t be able to go to the exhibition they can do the next best thing and buy the book! The exhibition catalogue is published by Hali Publications and includes essays by several authors including Rosemary Crill and Steven Cohen. The focus on textile ornament rather than date, region, usage, or technique provides new perspective and scholarship on this ancient artistic tradition. The book also highlights the tradition’s remarkable diversity, with objects ranging from folk embroideries to Mughal courtly weavings, and from early textiles traded to Egypt and Southeast Asia to eighteenth century chintzes exported to Europe.

Can’t wait for my copy to arrive!

As one great exhibition opens, another one closes. The Gold of the Great Steppe exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge ends on 30 January, so if you want to see it do hurry!

The next Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation morning takes place online on Saturday 29 January and the subject for this session is Restoring Rugs and Carpets.

“Rug restoration employs a range of sewing and weaving techniques that can be used to stabilize and conserve damaged structure or, if necessary, completely re-weave and replace missing fabric. The best repairs match materials, weave structure and color undetectably, restoring both value and function to a rug.” – Textile Museum. The speaker, Robert Mann, has been restoring rugs since 1978 and will discuss the various techniques used.

Click here for more details and to register for this programme. It begins at 11:00 EST, which is 16:00 GMT.

Double-soled engagement footwear from Japan. The two soles were bound together as a symbol of matrimonial harmony. Late nineteenth century. BSM collection.

Finally, I found this online exhibition about the history of wedding shoes at the Bata Shoe Museum fascinating. It discusses popular customs around marriage footwear, including hiding

A selection of textile events and articles

I’m starting this blog with one of the oldest textiles I have ever blogged about – a thirteenth century tunic from Lebanon.

Before conservation. © Abegg-Stiftung

The Abegg-Stiftung in Switzerland is committed to the collection, conservation and study of historical textiles. They have “been studying and conserving a group of archaeological textiles from Lebanon for several years now. The garments and accessories dating from the thirteenth century were found during excavations in the Assi el-Hadath cave in the Qadisha Valley between 1988 and 1993. Thanks to the dry climate there they are well preserved and are now prized as unique testimony to the clothes worn by a rural population during the Middle Ages. They tell us how carefully cloth was handled in those days and how even small pieces of fabric were made up into garments, which were then decorated and repaired as needed.“ – Abegg-Stiftung website

After conservation. © Abegg-Stiftung

Jelena Miloradić studied and conserved this child’s garment as part of her MA in Conservation-Restoration. A general overview of this work can be viewed here. I recommend using the magnification view to see how cleverly the netting has been used to support this textile.

Those interested in more detailed information about how this textile was conserved can find it here.

A basket from crin.

On Thursday 23 September the Embassy of Chile, Washington, will be hosting a Zoom workshop entitled Crin From Chile. Crin is horsehair weaving and “this colorful art form has its roots in a 200-year-old tradition from the city of Rari, located 310 kilometers south of Santiago, Chile.” – Textile Museum website.

Learn more about this traditional craft from Luciana Pérez of the Fundación de Artesanías de Chile, Jimena Asenjo from the Museum of Arts and Crafts of Linares and an artist from Rari. This event takes place at 11:00 Eastern Time (16:00 BST) and is free, but you do need to register.

One of the auction lots. © T W Gaze

Also on 23 September there will be an auction of vintage fabrics at Diss. This includes some Asian and African textiles, which might be of interest to some members. Thanks to Nick Fielding for informing me of this. Here is a link to the online catalogue.

One Hundred Cranes Imperial Robe Chinese, late 17th-early 18th century Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). Embroidered damask. © Nelson-Atkins Museum

On Saturday 25 September a new exhibition Weaving Splendor: Treasures of Asian Textiles opens at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City – thanks to our friends at ClothRoads for this information. Exhibits will include Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Persian textiles.

“The exhibition traces the journeys of key works of art and the people who owned them and carried them across the world. Luxurious costumes of the court performed power, while striking theater robes brought stage characters to life. Sturdy wall hangings and furniture covers transformed palaces, temples, and homes, while shimmering tapestry-woven carpets were created as diplomatic gifts for foreign rulers.“ – museum website.

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.

A reminder that the new exhibition Gold of the Great Steppe opens at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge next week. The Saka culture of Central Asia, flourished 2,500 years ago. This exhibition will present artefacts from the extraordinary burial mounds (kurgans) of the Saka people of East Kazakhstan. Several hundred gold items will be on display, including jewellery and horse harness decorations. What does this have to do with textiles you may ask? Special items of clothing were sometimes decorated with small gold embossed plaques, some of which will be on display.

A curator’s introduction to the exhibition will take place online next Wednesday 29 September at 13:15 BST. You can register for tickets here.

A robe from The Spirit Wraps Around You exhibition

Finally I would like to recommend a blog just published by Catherine Tutter entitled Dance of the Raven’s Tail, Part III.

In it she describes her experience of seeing the ‘Sky’ robe created by Evelyn Vanderhoop of the Haida Nation. It is shown next to a tunic created by Evelyn’s mother, Dolores Churchill. Catherine also includes links to a couple of videos by Evelyn, which are well worth watching. Evelyn and Dolores were also heavily involved with the exhibition The Spirit Wraps Around You, which I have blogged about several times this year. A reminder that a video tour of the exhibition can be accessed here.

Saka treasures, chintz and carpet studies

Advance notice of a major new exhibition! September 28th sees the opening of an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge entitled Gold of the Great Steppe. The exhibition will run until 30 January 2022.

A golden stag plaque from a Saka burial mound. © Fitzwilliam Museum

The Saka culture of Central Asia, flourished 2,500 years ago. This exhibition will present artefacts from the extraordinary burial mounds (kurgans) of the Saka people of East Kazakhstan. Several hundred gold items will be on display, including jewellery and horse harness decorations. What does this have to do with textiles you may ask? Special items of clothing were sometimes decorated with small gold embossed plaques, some of which will be on display.

Gold dove headdress plaques unearthed from ancient burial mounds built by Saka warrior people in Kazakhstan.Photograph: Amy Jugg/PA

A catalogue to accompany the exhibition will be published by Casemate and is now available to pre-order. It is edited by the exhibition curator Rebecca Roberts and includes contributions by experts from Kazakhstan and Cambridge.

Next a reminder of the online talk at the Royal Ontario Museum next week.

A kalamkari hanging. © ROM

On Wednesday 18th August 2021 the Royal Ontario Museum will host a free Zoom programme linked to their current exhibition on chintz, the Cloth that Changed the World. Rosemary Crill, a long-time supporter of the OATG, will examine an important group of seventeenth century South Indian textiles. “These previously unknown, extraordinary kalamkari masterworks depict scenes from palace life, with a Hindu ruler and ladies in a palace setting and in procession with his army. This talk will place these panels in the context of other known kalamkari hangings and the elaborate decoration of the textiles and architectural settings will be discussed, as well as the probable patron and place of production.” – ROM website. This talk begins at noon EDT, which is 1700 BST and you can register for it here.

A controversial carpet: 16th century Persia or 19th century Persia or India? Purchased by J.Paul Getty from the Kevorkian Collection, 1969

Finally on Thursday 26th August 2021 we have the next OATG talk. Our speaker will be Dr Dorothy Armstrong, May Beattie Visiting Fellow in Carpet Studies at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The title of the talk is 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 Sheffield, 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 Foundation, 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 and market practices around a set of beautiful and luxurious carpets.

This talk begins at 1830 BST and is free for OATG members, who should have already received their invitation but still need to register. Registration (£3) for non-members is NOW OPEN. Be sure to note this in your diary as it is certainly going to be a popular talk.”

Photograph of May Beattie attached to a travel document held in the archive

“The Beattie Archive was established at the Ashmolean Museum in June 2000, thanks to May Beattie’s generous bequest and vision for the creation of a centre devoted to the study of carpets. Her legacy comprises her specialized library of more than 1400 books, and her collection of carpets and weavings – more than 100 items dating from the 19th and 20th century. These are not for display, but were meant by Beattie to be for hands-on study at the Museum.

The unique significance of the archive, however, lies in the detailed documentation of carpets that May Beattie compiled during the course of her life. Based on her own physical examination, Beattie’s notes (about 55 volumes) record the results of her meticulous analysis of carpets – many of which are no longer available for study – in public and private collections throughout the world. About 15,000 analysis sheets detailing the structure of pieces she was able to access are now housed in the Department of Eastern Art, constituting an unrivalled resource for scholars in the field. Numerous files of articles, correspondence, and journals complete this part of the archive.” – Ashmolean, Eastern Art Online.

Carpets drying in the sun in Ray, Iran, in the 1970s. © Ashmolean Museum

In 2015 we published a mini-series of blogs, written by Katherine Clough, former Beattie Archive Assistant, which I have found fascinating. They really give you an understanding of the woman herself and some of the challenges that she faced. “A bacteriologist by training with a PhD from Edinburgh, Beattie is widely recognized for the scientific approach she brought to the study of carpets reflected in her use of analysis sheets.” – Katherine Clough. In these blogs we learn of some of the difficulties she and her husband Colin faced travelling in pursuit of carpets, as well as the problems of photographing them in far from ideal conditions – highly recommended reading!

A previous World Textile Day event in Wales

The next World Textile Day event will take place in Wales on 4th September 2021 from 10am to 4pm. The venue will be the Minerva Arts Centre at Llanidloes. Full details, including a map, are given here. These are always great events, with a good selection of ethnic textiles available from knowledgeable dealers – don’t miss out!

Exhibitions, Events and more in Thailand, France, Japan and the UK

A few events which have caught my eye…..

Patricia Cheesman with a few of the textiles from her latest exhibition ©City Life Chiang Mai

This week saw the opening of a new exhibition by Patricia Cheesman at Studio Naenna in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Entitled Over the Cordillera it showcases textiles from either side of the Annamite Range between Laos and Vietnam, examining similarities in their motifs. Patricia is the author of several books on the textile of this area. A brief overview of the exhibition, with many extra images featured in City Life Chiang Mai – thanks to Susan Stem for informing me of this.

Details:
Patricia Cheesman Gallery
138/8 Soi Chang Khian,
T. Changpeuak, A. Muang Chiang Mai

Wednesday 10am – 4pm (please call first) and by appointment tel 053-226- 42 or email st.naenna@gmail.com emailus1@studio-naenna.com

 

©Jenny Balfour-Paul

On 11 December indigo expert Jenny Balfour-Paul will be giving a talk in Paris on England and Holland, explorers of the indigo of the Indies.

Although indigo had been introduced into Italy in the Middle Ages it was “the English and Dutch East Indian companies that led to its expansion into the textiles of Europe of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, allowing considerable production of blue or black woollen cloth. In the nineteenth century, English settlers largely expanded the plantation and indigo production in India, dominating the world market until the advent of synthetic indigo.” (website of the National Institute of Art History). 

The talk will be in English and there will be time for questions and viewing some textiles afterwards. Click here to read an interesting interview with Jenny Balfour-Paul on Thomas Machell – the subject of her most recent book Deeper Than Indigo.

Details
December 11, 2019 – 18:00 -20:00
National Institute of Art History, auditorium
6, rue des Petits-Champs  or  2, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris
Free entry

 

Fragment of a horse caparison, England 1330-1340. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée de Cluny – musée national du Moyen-Âge) / Michel Urtado

Also on in Paris is an exhibition at the Musée de Cluny entitled The Art of Embroidery in the Middle Ages. According to the museum’s website “Embroidery with silk thread, gold and silver is one of the most precious and prestigious arts of the Middle Ages. And yet, today, these works are not at all well known.” This exhibition seeks to rectify that situation by looking at the main embroidery centres, from the Germanic regions to Italy, Flanders, England and France. It also provides an overview of the role medieval embroidery played from an artistic and social point of view, covering techniques, manufacturing processes and the relationships between sponsors, embroiderers, painters and merchants.” (museum website)

Details
24 October 2019 – 20 January 2020 Wednesday to Monday.
Musée de Cluny
entrance is via 28 rue Du Sommerard, 75005 Paris

 

Outerwear for women made of pineapple fibre, Panay Island, Philippines

Photo: Shinpei Shibuya

In complete contrast to all of the silver and gold in Paris, is an exhibition on Bast Fibers of the World which has just opened at the Iwatate Folk Museum in Tokyo. The range of bast fibres is incredible: raffia palm, hemp, ramie, banana were all used before we discovered cotton.

Details
Iwatate Folk Museum
1-25-13 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-0035
28 November 2019 – 14 March 2020
Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday



Image courtesy of Takashima Gallery

While in Tokyo do not miss this small exhibition of Textiles of the Ancient Andes at the Takashima Gallery, which ends on 15 December 2019. Fifty textiles dating from 900BC to 1400AD are currently on show. The intensity of their colours is truly amazing! Click here to see great images of more of these textiles.

Details
APT on the hill | Takashima Gallery

 

©Cooper Hewitt

One of the techniques in which the creators of Andean textiles excelled was cross looping. In this blog for the Cooper Hewitt Elena Phipps examines this fragment of a border (probably for a simple shoulder mantle) made by Nasca needleworkers from the South Coast of Peru at some time between 100BC and 100AD. The yarns used are from various camelids – llamas, alpacas and possibly vicunas.

Recently an attempt has been made to revive this ancient technique. You can read more about the progress made in this blog by Marilyn Murphy of ClothRoads.

Film showing some of the fans on display and the conservation methods used.

Back in the UK the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has an exhibition of fans from their extensive collection.  “The collection of over 600 objects ranges in date from the 18th to the 20th centuries and in type from bejewelled and hand-painted court and wedding fans, to printed mass-produced advertising fans, aide-memoire fans, mourning fans and children’s fans.” (Fitzwilliam Museum website)

I found the accompanying film fascinating, especially the glimpses it gave into the various methods of conservation that were used. I had no idea that fans could be so fascinating!

Details
5 March 2019 – 12 January 2020
Gallery 34
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RB
Closed Mondays

Finally I really enjoyed reading this blog by Sara Clugage on the Cooper Hewitt website. In it she examines this portrait of Karl Marx which was woven in silk in Hangzhou at the East is Red factory.

According to Clugage this “woven portrait of Marx is especially poignant, given Marx’s unrelenting criticism of the textile industry. In his early manuscripts of 1844, he quotes at length the capitalist abuses of laborers at textile mills……. Interestingly, Marx points to textile workers as the first to have their skills subsumed to wage labor, erasing the specificity of skilled work and turning it into a laborer’s saleable commodity. This portrait is a deft piece of propaganda, turning from the alienated labor of textile production under capital to its reclamation by workers in a communist society. It successfully encodes communist economic values with nationalist party values.”

Hangzhou is now the home of the China National Silk Museum where research into the history of Chinese silk production is undertaken.

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