Video: Textiles of Japan with Thomas Murray

 

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I’ve mentioned Thomas Murray in several previous blogs. He is a well-respected researcher, collector, dealer and author of several books, the latest being Textiles of Japan: The Thomas Murray Collection.

Fireman’s parade leather coat (kawabaori) with Ōhisa family crest, 19th century, deerskin; smoked resist. © Minneapolis Institute of Art

 

On 12 September he gave an online talk as part of the regular Rug and Textile Appreciation sessions hosted by the Textile Museum.

“The talk will cover daily dress, work-wear, and festival garb, and follows the Arts and Crafts philosophy of the Mingei Movement. Murray will present subtly patterned cotton fabrics – often indigo dyed from the main islands of Honshu and Kyushu – along with garments from the more remote islands: the graphic bark cloth, nettle fiber, and fish skin robes of the aboriginal Ainu in Hokkaido and Sakhalin in the north, and the brilliantly colored cotton kimonos of Okinawa to the far south.” Museum website.

The talk was recorded and is now available to view. It’s long – almost two hours – but set at a leisurely pace. Why not settle down in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee and enjoy learning more about these fascinating textiles?

 

 

 

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Silk Road Symposium, Japanese textiles, Pitt Rivers reopens

 

Great news! The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford (a personal favourite of mine) is reopening on 22 September 2020. In line with current regulations, visitors will have to pre-book a free ticket in advance.

The museum is accessed through the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, an awe-inspiring space with wonderful informative displays.

 

You can just see the entrance to the Pitt Rivers behind the skeleton of the young Asian elephant. © Oxford University Museum of Natural History

 

Interior of the Pitt Rivers. © Charlotte-Brown.com

For those not familiar with this museum, you can visit it virtually through this link on their website. You can use this tool to zoom around the display cases while in the comfort of your own home. When you find something of interest you can then search their database for more information.

Postcard from Japan-British Exhibition, The Bear Killer, Ainu Home, 1910. Misa Tamura, private collection.

Their website also has a selection of conservation stories, explaining how conservators have worked on an object. In some cases the before and after photographs show a marked difference, in others it is much more subtle. This particular example shows the work done to preserve an Ainu hunting quiver, which was purchased for the museum in 1910. Staff collaborated with the Historical Museum of Hokkaido, and in reading this article we gain some insight into the position of the Ainu in Japanese society.

 

I have mentioned Thomas Murray, the author of Textiles of Japan, several times in previous blogs. Tomorrow, Saturday 12 September, he will be discussing the central themes of this book as part of the regular Rug and Textile Appreciation sessions hosted by the Textile Museum. “The talk will cover daily dress, work-wear, and festival garb, and follows the Arts and Crafts philosophy of the Mingei Movement. Murray will present subtly patterned cotton fabrics – often indigo dyed from the main islands of Honshu and Kyushu – along with garments from the more remote islands: the graphic bark cloth, nettle fiber, and fish skin robes of the aboriginal Ainu in Hokkaido and Sakhalin in the north, and the brilliantly colored cotton kimonos of Okinawa to the far south.” Museum website. Spaces for this online event are limited and registration is necessary through this link. Please note the session takes place at 11am EDT which is 1600 in the UK.

 

 

Regrettably I have only just become aware of a Symposium currently taking place at the University of Kansas entitled Visual and Material Culture of the Silk Road(s). This two-day event began today, but hopefully you might still have time to register vis this link for tomorrow’s sessions. Timing is 0900-1215 Central time, which is 1500-1815 in the UK.

“Inspired by the Eurasian trade routes that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the mid-15th century, this symposium highlights how artworks, design, trade goods, medicine, religion, and people traveled both overland and by sea and stimulated new cultural forms and ideas. While the term “Silk Road,” invented in the 19th century, may conjure an image of camels plodding across the desert on one contiguous road, speakers in this symposium challenge us to envision instead a dynamic pattern of cross-cultural exchanges occurring between Asia, Africa, and beyond that continues today.” University website.

 

Woman’s pleated wedding skirt 1800s, Qing Dynasty. © Spencer Museum of Art

The Spencer Museum of Art will be running an online exhibition to accompany this symposium. The exhibition, entitled Interweaving Cultures along the Silk Road, will run until 13 December 2020.

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A selection of textile resources

 

I fully expected in this blog to be waxing lyrical about the kimono exhibition at the V & A, the chintz exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum, and the talk on batiks which Maria Wronska-Friend was scheduled to give to the OATG last night. However these are not normal times. Many of us are experiencing lockdowns and as such perhaps have more time to read, watch documentaries and improve our knowledge. To this end here are some suggestions on textile-related sites.

I spent quite a lot of time enjoying this blog from the British Museum, which explains several different ways of exploring the museum from the comfort of your own home. I was amazed to discover that you can visit the museum using Google Street View. It took a while for me to get used to the controls, but the level of detail is incredible and in many instances you can read the panels of text by the displays. You can also explore the different galleries for example this is the link to the Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic world.

A helmet made from basketry and feathers from the Hawai’ian Islands.
This may have been collected by Cook during his third voyage in 1776-1780. ©British Museum

 

Another website with some fascinating online exhibitions is the Kyoto Costume Institute. I particularly enjoyed this one entitled Japonism in Fashion which examines the profound effect of the kimono on fashion.

This type of garment was exported from Japan to the West. ©Kyoto Costume Institute

Moving from Japan to China, this short video presented by Sophie Makariou (President of the Musée Guimet) showcases a stunning semi-formal Imperial dragon robe from their collection. It belonged to the Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820) and had slits in the front, back, and sides so that it could be worn while horseriding. This robe is generally kept in storage and is only displayed occasionally so this is a wonderful opportunity to see it close-up.

 

The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum have recently launched their free digital catalogue for the Woven Interiors:Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt exhibition. This beautifully illustrated 134 page full colour catalogue was co-authored by Gudrun Bühl, Sumru Belger Krody and Elizabeth Dospěl Williams. The authors look at how these textiles from the early medieval period were used in a variety of settings, describing how they “served as cozy bed cloths, they enlivened bare walls and colonnades with shocking color, they cushioned hard surfaces and veiled sacred spaces”.

Textile fragment with head and duck, early 5th century. © Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection

 

Finally this short article by Ruth Clifford for The Textile Atlas raised some important questions about the relationship between weavers and designers of Kota Doria saris in the Rajasthan area of India..

Kota Doria saris. © Ruth Clifford

 

Hope you enjoy browsing through these websites and may your isolation keep you safe!

 

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Event: Lloyd Cotsen and His Textiles – A Lifetime of Collecting and Connoisseurship

 

Fragment from a ramayana, India for the Indonesian market. ©Lloyd E. Cotsen

Event date: 10 August 2019, Los Angeles

Lloyd Cotsen died in 2017 but his legacy lives on in his textiles. This talk by Lyssa Stapleton is part of the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMA/SC) regular programme of events. Lyssa is the Curator of The Cotsen Collection, Los Angeles and Consulting Curator for the Cotsen Textile Traces Collection at The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.

“For more than 70 years Lloyd Cotsen collected experiences, objects, and knowledge that mirrored and exemplified his profound interest in the world around him. As the CEO of Neutrogena Corporation, he began to assemble several world-class collections including folk art, textiles, Japanese bamboo baskets, and children’s books. His nearly comprehensive textile study collection, known as Textile Traces, has recently been donated to the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. An exploration of this collection reveals how his extraordinary appreciation for human creativity led him to become an inquisitive and acquisitive collector, and illustrate how his life experiences contributed to his deep commitment to children’s literature, the history of weaving technology, to the support of declining artistic traditions and living artists and to the stewardship of the objects he acquired.” TMA/SC newsletter.

A 1787 book with samples of tapa cloth collected by Captain Cook during his Pacific voyages. © Lloyd E. Cotsen

In 2018 the George Washington University and The Textile Museum was gifted over 4000 textiles along with an endowment to support further study.  A study centre with state of the art equipment also forms part of this bequest. You can read more on this, as well as viewing a great selection of images of textiles from the collection here.

Location:

Luther Hall, Lower Level St. Bede’s Episcopal Church

3590 Grand View Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90066-1904

Refreshments will be available from 10;00 and the programme will begin at 10:30. This is free for members of the TMA/SC, guests are welcome for an admission charge of $10.

 

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Events: Textile events this week in Manchester, Washington DC, Tokyo and California

Another busy week in the textile world!

Tunic (Cushma), Wari culture, Southern Andes, alpaca wool, c800 AD,  Courtesy: Paul Hughes Collection.

Friday sees the opening of a new exhibition at the Whitworth in Manchester, entitled Ancient Textiles from the Andes. This will run until 15 September 2019.

This is a rare opportunity to see ancient Andean textiles of this quality and size exhibited in the UK. Through a major loan from the collector Paul Hughes, alongside pieces from the Whitworth, textiles from c300BC to c1400AD are on display. HALI have several images of textiles which will be part of this exhibition here, which are sure to whet your appetite! For further details visit the website of the Whitworth.

Location The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER

Searching A Female Smuggler. Source: Harper’s, 1884, pg.45.

This Saturday Louise Shelley, director, Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, George Mason University will give a presentation entitled The Dark Side of the Textile Trade. The title immediately made me think of the damage that textile production can do to the environment, people working for next to nothing to produce fast fashion etc. However when I read further I was fascinated to learn that Louise comes at this from quite a different angle, looking into the abuses of the textile trade for commercial and political gains by both criminals and states. 

Textiles have always been one of the most valued components of international trade. Both individuals and states have sought to profit from this trade in both illegal and immoral ways. The problem of counterfeit products we face today is not new; it was already an issue centuries ago, when British traders flooded the Venetian market with their products labelled “Made in Venice.” When cochineal was the most valuable product out of the New World, many pirates and traders sought to acquire cochineal and break the Spanish monopoly.” Textile Museum website.   

Location: The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, 701 21st Street, NW, Washington, District Of Columbia.

This event will start at 10:30 and is free with no reservations required. For more details go to the museum’s website.

 

By a strange coincidence the subject of fakes and copies is also tackled the following day by Vedat Karadag in his talk to the International Hajji Baba Society on the subject of Current methods for making fake and copies of antique rugs in Anatolia and Persia. 

Fakes of antique carpets are nothing new in the rug and textile business. But today’s version are technically so good that they can fool even top rug experts, famous collectors, textile professors and museum curators. How do the counterfeiters do it?” I’m sure this is a question we would all like the answer to! Vedat is a textile researcher who has been looking into this question for over 15 years, so this is bound to be a fascinating talk.

Location:  Arlington County Public Library, Donnellan Auditorium (on the ground floor), 1015 N Quincy St

This event will take place at 15:00 and is also open to non-members. More details can be found on the IHBS website.

The Amuse Museum in Tokyo celebrates the 10th anniversary of its opening on Saturday with the exhibition Boro – Real Astonishment. On show will be the collection of Chuzaburo Tanaka who sought out these textiles, which are generally made of hemp,  from the mid 1960s. The textiles will be hung among newly published photographs by Kyoichi Tsuzuki which should create an interesting contrast.

Location 2-34-4 Asakusa, Taito Ku, Tokyo, Japan 111-0032

For more information visit the website of the Amuse Museum.

Image credit: Woman’s robe (munisak) Central Asia, 1850–75, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, S2004.94

Finally this Sunday in California the Bowers Museum will be hosting a very special event dedicated to Central Asian ikat. The respected textile researcher Dr Richard Isaacson  will present Silken Resistance: A Short History of Ikat.

“Central Asian ikats are among the most dramatic and spectacular hand-dyed and hand-woven textiles ever produced, enthralling both for the technique used to create them, and for their fabulous patterns and designs. They are not, however, the first or only ikats made in the world. Combining insights from archeological excavations, photo archives and museum collections, Dr. Richard Isaacson will trace the history of ikat from the 5th century to the present, concentrating on the height of production in 19th century Uzbekistan. Dr. Isaacson’s talk will incorporate rarely-seen French and Russian historical photographs of local people wearing ikat garments, providing a fascinating window into daily life and social class structure from the last third of the 19th century into the early 20th century in the Uzbek region, at the eastern edge of the Russian empire.” – Bowers Museum website.

I have attended (and given) many lectures which had a Show and Tell element at the end, giving attendees the opportunity to see actual textiles. However this event takes that to another level as Dr Isaacson’s talk will be followed by a show of over 40 antique ikat pieces on live models. This will obviously add a different dimension. These textiles are from the collection of Cheri Hunter – a doyenne of the textile world. Having seen some of these textiles when we were hosted by Cheri, I know that they are of an extremely high standard.

Location 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706

For more details and to book visit the website of the Bowers Museum.

 

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Event: Turkish Legacy in Anatolian Kilims

Event date: 5 September 2018 at 18:30

 

 

This lecture by Sumru Belger Krody, senior curator at the Textile Museum, Washington DC shows how nomadic Anatolian women, descended from Turkmen nomads, wove colourful, visually stunning kilims that reveal their culture’s aesthetic preferences for decorating their surroundings. Today, these kilims are the only surviving tangible evidence of their makers’ nomadic lifestyle – a poignant legacy given that women generally did not have an external voice in this patriarchal society. The exhibition A Nomad’s Art: Kilims of Anatolia will be open before the talk.

This lecture is free, but reservations are required. For more details of this event held at the Textile Museum, Washington DC, click here

 

Exhibition: Vanishing Traditions – Textiles and Treasures from Southwest China

Exhibition dates 24 February – 9 July 2018

Over thousands of years, ethnic minority groups in China migrated to the country’s southwest fringes, with many settling in the mountainous province of Guizhou. As a result, the region has a remarkable diversity of languages and traditions, including exquisite textiles and metalwork. As Guizhou Province develops economically, these illustrious handicraft skills are fast disappearing.

Vanishing Traditions – Textiles and Treasures from Southwest China showcases stunning examples of textiles and jewellery worn by Miao, Dong, Shui, Yao, Bouyei, and other minority peoples, for community festivals. These pieces were selected from almost three hundred artworks recently donated to the Textile Museum by collector Bea Roberts.

For more information visit the website of  The Textile Museum, Washington

Exhibition: Colors of the Oasis – Central Asian Ikats

Exhibition dates: 12 March – 4 June 2017

Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats showcases nearly fifty ikat robes and panels from the renowned Murad Megalli Collection of the Textile Museum in Washington DC.

These bold garments were mainstays of cosmopolitan oasis culture in the nineteenth century, worn by inhabitants of different classes and religions throughout crowded marketplaces, private homes, centres of worship and ceremonial places. The ikat textiles on display – including robes for men and women, dresses, trousers and hangings – feature eye-catching designs in dazzling colours.

Supplementing the ikats are historical photographs and didactic materials about the tradition of their creation. The textiles were originally produced in the 1800s in weaving centres across Uzbekistan, including Bukhara, Samarkand and the Fergana Valley.

Additionally, special installations of ikat textiles from India, Japan and Central Asia – on view in the museum’s permanent galleries in the Law Building – demonstrate ikat traditions from around the globe.

For more information, visit the website of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA.

Exhibition: Stories of Migration – Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora

GW Textile Museum - Stories of Migration

Exhibition dates: until 4 September 2016

In Stories of Migration, artists use needle and thread to relate experiences of migration and diaspora. This timely exhibition includes works by forty-four artists, who share personal and universal stories of migration. From historic events that scattered communities across continents to today’s accounts of migrants and refugees adapting to a new homeland.

Invited artists include Hussein Chalayan, Shin-hee Chin, Aino Kajaniemi, Faith Ringgold, Consuelo Jiménez Underwood and William Adjété Wilson.

If you can’t see this exhibition in person, there is a short time-lapse video on the exhibition website, showing artist Consuelo Jiménez Underwood creating her site-specific installation, which recounts her personal experience crossing the US-Mexico border.

For more information, visit the website of the GW Textile Museum, Washington, DC, USA.