From Indonesia to Persia, India to Peru, the Golden Triangle to Egypt – something for everyone!

We have just been informed (by the curators) that the exhibition Ships and Passages, which was shown last year at the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich, can now be experienced virtually, through the wonders of technology.

Make sure you click EN on the bottom blue menu, unless of course you speak fluent German. If you use the zoom function you also have the option to see the back of the textiles, which I found really useful.

Asian Textiles has published two articles relevant to this exhibition. The first, entitled Alfred Steinmann and the ship motif, was co-authored by Georges Breguet and Gaspard de Marval and appeared in number 79. The second appeared in our most recent edition (number 81) and was entitled Alfred Steinmann’s ship tapis inuh. It was co-authored by the curators Andreas Isler and Paola von Wyss-Giacosa, along with OATG members Richard Isaacson and Louise Shelley.

Asian Textiles is a great searchable resource and all issues, apart from the past three years which are password-protected for members, can be freely accessed here.

On Saturday 9 April 2022 the New England Rug Society (NERS) will host an online presentation by Michael Rothberg entitled Saddlebags from Persia and the Caucasus: An Examination of Selected Design Motifs.

Michael’s presentation will focus on aspects of design in nineteenth century knotted-pile transport bags woven by tribal women. He will draw most of his examples, including Shahsevan, Kurdish, Afshar, Khamseh Confederation, Qashq’ai, Luri, and Baluch bags, from his book, Nomadic Visions, which was published by HALI and the Near Eastern Art Research Center in 2021. He will also discuss examples from the Transcaucasus, Persian Azerbaijan, and Varamin.

Registration is free for this programme, which begins at 13:00 Eastern Time, which is 18:00 BST. If you have any questions please email Jean Hoffman.

Khorjin front, Northeast Transcaucasia, Dagestan region.

An online exhibition by Hali of sixteen knotted pile bags from the Michael and Amy Rothberg Collection can be viewed here. The exhibition also includes several wonderful textiles from the collection of the late Neville Kingston, who was a member of the OATG for many years.

Also happening on Saturday 9 April is an in-person talk by Thomas Murray for the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California. His subject will be Archetypes, Aesthetics and Agency: Adat Textiles of Early Indonesian Cultures.

“Indonesian textiles are known to convey messages across time and space by means of an archetypal iconography that includes human figures, trees, boats, reptiles, birds and geometric patterns. These encoded images follow ancestral traditions and customary laws known as adat; cloth becomes sacred through a combination of fine spinning, dying, and weaving that creates a sense of aesthetic wonder……. This lecture will follow the themes presented in the newly published book, Textiles of Indonesia, and will focus on some of the finest cloths to come out of the archipelago, presenting each object with impeccable photographs.” – Thomas Murray

The programme begins at 10:00 PDT in Santa Monica, California and entry is limited to those with reservations. These must be received by 17:00 PDT on Thursday 7 April, so act now if you want to attend.

Don’t live in Southern California but would love to see this presentation? Then you just need to wait a little longer. The TMA/SC have arranged for two Zoom presentations later this month. The first is intended for participants living in Southeast Asia and Australasia and starts at 19:00 PDT on Friday 22 April. This is therefore 09:00 on Saturday morning for those in Jakarta and Bangkok as an example. Register here.

The second is timed for those in Europe and the Middle East. It will take place on Saturday 23 April at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST. You can register for it here.

Please ensure you register for the programme that best suits your time zone. Thomas Murray will be live at both Zoom presentations for the Q&A sessions.

Patola-inspired ‘Cepuk’ cloth used as protection in a tooth-filing ceremony in Ubud, Bali. © Urmila Mohan

On Sunday 10 April the Society for Art and Cultural Heritage of India will host an online talk by Urmila Mohan on Patola-inspired textiles in Indonesia as Forms of Spiritual Power. Dr Mohan is an anthropologist of material culture with a focus on clothing.

“While some of us know double-ikat as luxury textiles and handwoven traditions, based on Patola’s history as a trade commodity, we may be less familiar with the local ways in which Patola-inspired textiles are used in parts of Southeast Asia. This talk focuses on how these textiles acquire a new and different life in the Indonesian archipelago based on the creativity of weavers and dyers, and the ritual context of usage. While we can certainly admire these clothes for their artisanry and aesthetics, it is valuable to recognize that those very same qualities have real and tangible spiritual and cosmological effects in the societies within which they are embedded.” – SACHI website

This talk begins at 22:00 BST and you can register for it here.

On Tuesday 12 April Andean Textile Arts are hosting an intriguing Zoom presentation by Juan Antonio Murro entitled Written in Knots: What We Know Today About Khipus.

“Peru’s long-lived Wari and vast Inca empires employed sophisticated devices called khipu to record information, such as census data and labor obligations……. Made of cords, both Inca and Wari khipu seem to have recorded not only quantitative or statistical content, but narrative information as well. The variation in cord structures, colors, wrapping patterns, and knots encoded and conveyed information, while the basic elements—flexible knotted cords—offered a lightweight and compact means of transporting information across distances.” Andean Textile Arts

The talk begins at 19:00 Eastern Time, which is midnight in the UK – one for the nightowls. Click here for more details and registration.

Late nineteenth century jacket for a woman in a glazed and block printed cotton, Iran.

On Tuesday 12 April the New York based Hajji Baba Club will host a Zoom presentation by Augusta de Gunzbourg on From Buteh to Paisley: The History of a Global Icon.

“This curved, drop-like shape is one of the rare forms that features on textiles from all around the world and on clothing worn by all genders or ages. The motif has many names and meanings according to the different cultures that have all adopted it. Seen on Indian saris or on the Queen of England’s clothing, the questions we ask are: where and when did this motif originate and how did it become such a global icon?

The way the motif traveled historically and geographically will be illustrated with a wide range of items with Paisley from the TRC’s exhibition such as Iranian Qajar jackets, 19th century British ladies’ shawls or even a modern Japanese kimono.”

Augusta’s talk will feature the exhibition held at the Textile Research Centre, Leiden in 2021, on the history of the Paisley motif. It is well worth delving into this online resource here.

The talk will begin at 11:00 Eastern, which is 16:00 BST. Places do need to be reserved by 8 April so send your RSVP now!

The next OATG event takes place on Thursday 21 April when we will have a presentation by Victoria Vorreiter on Hmong Threads of Life: Traditional Hmong Textiles of the Golden Triangle. Victoria is a violinist and music teacher who began documenting the ceremonies and music of indigenous people several decades ago. She moved to Thailand 17 years ago and now spends her time trekking to remote villages in Laos, Myanmar, China and Thailand. Her photographs are incredible – just take a look at her website!

Victoria’s online presentation begins at 13:00 BST. It’s an afternoon event as she is based in Chiang Mai in Thailand. It will of course be recorded and the recording will be made available to members. Non-members are welcome to attend for a small fee. More details and registration here.

In 2016 Victoria wrote a long, beautifully illustrated article for our OATG journal Asian Textiles, which you can read here.

On Saturday 23 April the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, has an in-person event – still something of a novelty for many of us. Egyptian artist Lamis Haggag and professional khayamiya craftsman Mostafa El-Lathy will host a presentation and workshop on the traditional Egyptian appliqué craft of khayamiya, used to decorate tents. This event will run from 14:00 – 16:00. Click here for more details.

Next an event that is definitely in-person! It’s the Textile Society’s annual Antique and Vintage Textile Fair in Manchester on Sunday 24 April. This is always such an eclectic mix, with textiles from around the world and across several centuries. It’s always very busy and the car park fills fast so get there early!

Full details and ticket booking via this link.

Sari (detail), Patan, Gujarat, 19th century. The Textile Museum Collection 6.63. Acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1931.

On Wednesday 27 April the Textile Museum in DC will host a virtual programme linked to their current exhibition Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design. Textile specialist Rosemary Crill (ex V&A) will discuss Abstract Patterns in Indian Textiles.

“The abstract and geometric patterns of Indian textiles are as varied as the innumerable techniques used to produce them, encompassing woven, surface and embellished cloths of all kinds. Geometric structures form the basis of all cloth with intersecting warps and wefts, and as such stripes and checks are found in the oldest textiles known from South Asia.” 

This event takes place at 12:00 EDT, which is 17:00 BST . You can find out more and register for it here.

Don’t forget to let me know if you are aware of textile-related events that could be shared!

From India to Indonesia, Denmark to Turkmenistan and much, much more…..

The Spring edition of Asian Textiles is out now!

There is lots of excellent material inside, including articles on textiles from Bhutan, kelaghayi from Iran, baandha from Odisha and Alfred Steinmann’s ship tapis inuh from Indonesia. UK members should have already received their copies and they should arrive with our many international members shortly.

Sheila photographed in Bukhara in 1996 by David Richardson

Some of you will be aware of the passing last week of Sheila Paine, an honorary member of the OATG. Sheila lived such a full and active life travelling, researching textiles, writing numerous books – as well as being the life and soul of the party. She will be greatly missed. OATG will be organising an event to honour her life and a full obituary will appear in the next edition of Asian Textiles.

This short video is a great reminder of everything she stood for, and some of her excellent travel images were featured in an exhibition at the Pitt Rivers Museum called Embroidered Visions a few years ago.

This Wednesday, 16 March, the Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) will host a talk by Rosemary Crill on Four aspects of Indian embroidery: early traditions; European exports; embroidery for the courts and embroidery in South India.

“Rather than attempting a survey of India’s many embroidery traditions, this talk will explore several separate aspects of Indian embroidery from the 15th to the 19th century, with a particular focus on groups of textiles that continue to raise questions of different kinds. These include embroidery in the pre-Mughal period; embroidery made for export to Portugal and Britain; embroidery at the Mughal and Deccani courts; coverlets (rumals) from the Punjab Hills and embroidery in South India.” – ORTS website

This will be a hybrid event, taking place at the University Women’s Club in London and simultaneously on Zoom. Non-members are welcome to attend, but those wanting Zoom access need to email Dimity Spiller.

Vase carpet, Persia, around 1600, wool // Courtesy Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Islamische Kunst.
 

On Sunday 20 March the International Hajji Baba Society – DC will host a talk by Anna Beselin, Curator for Carpets and Flat Weaves at the Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin entitled The Berlin Carpet Collection: Today and Tomorrow.

“At the end of the 19th century, Berlin became both the birthplace for oriental carpet studies and the center for collecting and preserving the most extraordinary examples. The Carpet Collection of the Museum für Islamische Kunst, located in the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin, is one of the most important and oldest carpet and textile collections in Europe………In 2023, the museum will close, only to reopen in the summer of 2026 in completely new rooms and a larger space. What measures and what transformation the museum will go through to make the leap into the future is the subject of this lecture, based on its rich carpet collection. Aiming to catch a new and wider audience this talk will introduce you to a fascinating variety of individual histories of the carpet collections highlights, which will be presented in the new Galleries of the Museum for Islamic Art Berlin in 2026.” – IHBS website.

This free webinar begins at 13:00 Eastern time, which is 17:00 GMT.

Anna Beselin is also the author of Knots: Art & History The Berlin Carpet Collection, published in 2019.

I found this article about an exhibition in 2018 of some of these carpets really interesting. The exhibition was called Traum und Trauma (Dream and Trauma) and showed carpets in various states of repair following fire and bomb damage in Berlin during the Second World War.

On Tuesday 22 March Tom Murray will give a talk to the New York based Hajji Baba Club on Archetypes, Aesthetics and Agency: Adat Textiles of Early Indonesian Cultures.

“Indonesian textiles are known to convey messages across time and space by means of an archetypal iconography that include human figures, trees, boats, reptiles, birds and geometric patterns. These encoded images follow ancestral traditions and customary laws known as adat; cloth becomes sacred through a combination of fine spinning, dying, and weaving that creates a sense of aesthetic wonder…..

This lecture will follow the themes presented in the newly published book, Textiles of Indonesia, and will focus on some of the finest cloths to come out of the archipelago, presenting each object with impeccable photographs. Geographically arranged, this lecture 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.” – HBC website

Click here for more information about this talk, which begins at 18:00 Eastern time, which unfortunately is 22:00 GMT.

Tom’s new book, Textiles of Indonesia, is a must for anyone interested in the textiles of this archipelago. The quality of the textiles depicted and of the photography is outstanding. It includes essays by some of the leading researchers in that area – Lorraine V. Aragon, Joanna Barrkman, Christopher Buckley, Kristal Hale, Valerie Hector, Janet Alison Hoskins, Itie van Hout, Etsuko Iwanaga, Fiona Kerlogue, Eric Kjellgren, Brigitte Khan Majlis, Robyn Maxwell, Thomas Murray and Sandra Sardjono.

Registration is now open for Costume Society of America Symposium, which takes place from 24-29 May in Minneapolis/St Paul. The theme this year is Land of 10,000 Ideas – Innovation through Dress. Please note that Early Bird registrations are only available up to 8 April 2022. More information and a link to how to register can be found here. You can access the full schedule here.

A seminar on Margrethe Hald and the Nordic History of Textile Research will take place at the University of Copenhagen 22 April, 2022 and it will also be possible to follow the seminar online. Details of the various lectures can be seen in the image above.

If you wish to participate please email Morten Grymer-Hansen before the 7 April, 2022 specifying whether you want to participate at the university or online.

Asia Week takes place in New York from 16-25 March. There will be exhibitions, auctions and lectures on a variety of topics, but I couldn’t find many on textiles. The offering by Tom Murray was of course an exception….

Attush robe

“A magnificent Attush robe, is just one of the pieces inImportant Indian & Indonesian Textiles at Thomas Murray, and was made by the Ainu people, in Hokkaido, the northern most island of Japan. The tan-colored ground cloth is from elm-bark fiber and decorated with appliquéd indigo cotton, silk tassels, shells, marine creatures, and white embroidery. With compelling ancient graphic designs known to ward off evil, this robe is one of the finest ever to come to light and likely belonged to a shaman or a high-status chief.” – Asia Week Press Release

On Saturday 26 March the New England Rug Society host Alan Rothblatt, who  will be talking about Rare Turkmen Asmalyks.

Alan Rothblatt holding a Tekke ‘bird’ asmalyk

“Of all Turkmen weavings, asmalyks—trappings that adorn the flanks of the camel carrying the bride on her wedding day— have been the most captivating to collectors. This webinar, “Rare Turkmen Asmalyks,” will present a selection of the best asmalyks from the various Turkmen tribes and will provide insights into some of these highly desired items. The majority of Turkmen collectors share a welldeveloped trait: the ability to focus on the tiny details of Turkmen rugs that help determine age and tribal origin and that distinguish the greatest examples. Alan Rothblatt … acquired his first Turkmen weaving over thirty years ago and has been an active participant and frequent presenter at meetings of the International Collectors of Turkmen Carpets, in Hamburg, Germany, as well as at the Rug Collectors’ Weekend, in California.” – NERS website

This webinar begins at 13:00 Eastern time, which is 17:00 GMT. It is free, but non-members do need to email Jean Hoffman to receive an invitation.

And finally please don’t forget that I am always on the lookout for information about events to share in this blog. If you know of any please do email me.

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!

New Year, New Textile Events!

On Monday 10 January Dr David Hugus will give a talk on the Evolution of Chinese Rank Badges. David is the author of Chinese Rank Badges: Symbols of Power, Wealth and Intellect in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. These badges were officially worn from 1391 to 1911, and thus illustrate the textile art of China over a span of 600 years.

This will be the first of a two-part talk on the evolution and dating of these badges. It begins at 19:00 PST, which is 03:00 GMT so doesn’t really work for our UK members, but hopefully some of our many overseas members will enjoy it.

Click here for more information and registration details.

Slide ©Dr Dorothy Armstrong

On Thursday 13 January the Hajji Baba Club will host an online lecture by Dr Dorothy Armstrong, the current May Beattie Fellow at the Ashmolean Museum. Her talk is entitled 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 the provincial city of Sheffield, UK, 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 Museum, 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, collectors’ drive and market practices, played out through a set of beautiful and luxurious carpets.

All of this may sound familiar to OATG members, as Dr Armstrong gave this talk to us last August. It was extremely well-received, and if you missed it a recording is available in the members’ resources area of our website. However you may well want instead to join this online event, as the Q and A session afterwards is sure to be stimulating. The talk begins at 11:00 EST, which is 16:00 GMT, and you can register for it here.

Fragment (Tunic), 1532/1700
Inca; probably Cuzco or Lake Titicaca region, southern highlands, Peru. Bessie Bennett Endowment

On the same day, Thursday 13 January, the Art Institute of Chicago will host an online lecture by Andrew Hamilton entitled Inca Textiles under Colonial Rule. This talk focuses on two fragments of an Inca tunic, explaining “the appearance and usage of the original tunic; the tunic’s elusive designs, called tocapus in Quechua; the European design influences manifested in the garment; and how an elite Indigenous man might have worn such a tunic to express his nobility under colonial rule. Most importantly, this talk will illuminate the knowledge and skills of the tunic’s weavers and show how their work upheld long-standing Inca techniques while also inventing new ones in response to their much-changed lives in the Viceroyalty of Peru.” – AIC website

The talk takes place at 17:00-17:45 CST, which is 23:00-23:45 GMT, and you can register for it here.

The Textile Museum Associates of Southern California begin their 2022 programme on Saturday 15 January with an online talk by Abel Trybiarz, author of Rugs & Art: Tribal Bird Rugs and Others, published in 2017 by HALI. The title of his talk is RUGS & ART: South Persian Tribal Rugs with Birds and Other Creatures.

“The so-called “bird rugs” of the Khamseh Confederation and the Qashqa’i are among the most charming and colorful of figurative rugs of the Southwest Persian tribes. Their rows and columns of birds, and all kinds of other animals including human figures, have been made in an infinite array of combinations and colors, with a huge variety of border motifs. Over many years, Buenos Aires collector Abel Trybiarz has quietly built a previously unknown collection of bird and animal rugs that has at its heart a superb selection of antique knotted-pile rugs, woven by the nomadic tribes of the Khamseh Confederation in southwestern Iran during the 19th century.”

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

Cover of Mea and the Palm Flowers. ©Tracing Patterns Foundation

OATG member Sandra Sardjono of Tracing Patterns Foundation has been instrumental in producing a lovely book for children, telling the story of a little girl called Mea who dreams of wearing a new ikat cloth to the Harvest Festival on the island of Savu in Indonesia. One of the advisors for this book was Geneviève Duggan, who last year talked to our members about the textiles of Savu, in particular those woven by the women of Pedero village, the setting of this book. The book is beautifully illustrated, and half of the proceeds of sales will be going to the weavers – who you may remember suffered dreadfully after Cyclone Seroja. Click here to order this delightful book.

A young girl from Pedero we photographed during one of our many visits to Savu.

I missed Joe Coca’s talk on textile photography last month, so am glad to see that a recording of it is now available on Youtube. In it he talks about the trials and tribulations involved in taking some of the photographs of weavers and people in their traditional dress.

On Thursday 27 January we will hold our Oxford Asian Textile Group AGM via Zoom. It will begin at 18:00 GMT and will be followed by a talk by Sue Stanton, conservator at the Ashmolean Museum. All members should have already received the Zoom link, which will be resent along with the agenda and committee reports well in advance of the meeting.

Yet more textile talks!

First a quick reminder of a couple of events taking place this week.

The next online meeting of the Hajji Baba Club of New York will be this Wednesday 8 December. Dr Mariachiara Gasparini will talk on the subject From Wool to Silk and Back: Development and Evolution of the Eurasian Roundel Motif.

“In the 6th century, roundel motifs began to appear on wool and silk textiles in Chinese and Iranian territories. Through the spreading of Buddhism and Islam in the 8th century, textiles with beaded, lobed, and flowery roundels spread across Eurasia; they have been found in Christian Cathedral treasuries, Egyptian and Japanese repositories, and various archaeological sites. Often used as money by the Chinese, these textiles mainly crossed the borders of empires and kingdoms as diplomatic gifts.”

The talk begins at 18:00 EST, which is 23:00 GMT and is free, but you do need to register for it.

This Thursday 9 December the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, will host another online talk, this time with Victoria Finlay, the author of Fabric: The Hidden History of the Material World. Victoria looks at how stories of our “relationship with cloth are woven in with questions of how and why people through the ages have made it, worn it, invented it, made symbols out of it, and sometimes why they have fought for it.”

Beating tree bark in Papua and attempting to spin cotton in Guatemala are just two of the textile-related experiences Victoria has had, so this should be an enjoyable talk.

Click here to find out more and to book for this talk which begins at 18:00 GMT.

Textile fragment with embroidered hummingbirds, early Nasca, Peru 100 BC-AD 200 ©British Museum

I mentioned in a previous blog that I had really enjoyed an online talk by Jago Cooper and Cecilia Pardo-Grau, the curators of the current British Museum exhibition Peru: a journey in time. This free talk is being repeated on Thursday 9 December 2021 at 18:15 GMT. Click here for more details.

©Minjee Kim

In early November I blogged about a talk organised by the Korean Cultural Society of Boston.  The speaker was Dr Minjee Kim and the subject was Han-bok: Dress of Korean Identity. The KCSB website explained that this talk “will shed light on the inception of the term “hanbok” and the composition of the ensembles for men and women, and its constant transformation in the context of modern Korean fashion history. Then it will overview contemporary hanbok ensembles for new-born babies, children, young and middle age adults, as well as weddings, burials, and funerals.”

Unfortunately the talk began at 23:30 GMT so wasn’t ideal for our UK members. However the recording of this talk is now available here.

Hat from the collection of Roger Pratt

Saturday 11 December is a busy one for textile lovers, with at least three talks that I know of. The first is by Roger Pratt as part of the Textile Museum’s regular Rug and Textile Appreciation Mornings. His subject is Hats of the Silk Road. “In this virtual trek along the Silk Road, collector Roger Pratt will show images and discuss examples of a variety of hats from his personal holdings. These include Turkmen hats, Turkmen Tekke hats, Central Asian non-Turkmen hats, Persian conical Dervish hats, Central Asian longtail hats, inscribed religious hats and Ottoman Syrian Aleppo hats. The hats were first displayed in 2018 at the International Conference on Oriental Carpets XIV in Washington, D.C.” – Textile Museum website

The talk begins at 11:00 EST, which is 16:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

Later the same day is the second in a two-part webinar hosted by the New England Rug Society. Unfortunately I forgot to enter the first part, which was on 4 December, in my blog diary – sorry about that. Jim Burns is the author of several books including The Caucasus: Tradition in Weaving and Antique Rugs of Kurdistan. His talk is entitled Caucasian Rugs: Six Decades of Perspective on Design and Taste. He will discuss examples of weavings from the Caucasus from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. The talk begins at 13:00 Eastern Time, which is 18:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

Also on Saturday 11 December the China Society of Southern California will host a talk by Dr David Hugus on the subject of Chinese Rank Badges. This will be the first in a series of three talks on this subject by David, the author of Chinese Rank Badges: Symbols of Power, Wealth and Intellect in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. These badges were officially worn from 1391 to 1911, and thus illustrate the textile art of China over a span of 600 years. This first talk will focus on identifying the birds and animals that represent the nine civilian and military ranks of the Qing Dynasty. The talk is at 18:00 PST, which is great for our US members, but not for our UK ones as that is 02:00 GMT. Click here to register.

Harriet Powers pictorial quilt 1895-98

On Wednesday 15 December Jennifer Swope, co-curator of the current exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will give a talk about Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories. “Spanning more than 300 years, the 50 plus quilts featured in this groundbreaking exhibition express the personal narratives of their makers and owners and connect to broader stories of global trade, immigration, industry, marginalization, and territorial and cultural expansion. Hear from the curator as she discusses the diverse stories of the American experience told by these artists and makers, from Harriet Powers to Bisa Butler.”

Click here to register for this free webinar, which begins at 14:00 Eastern Time – 19:00 GMT.

Finally OATG members will be delighted to hear that our Website Manager Aimée Payton, has completed her overhaul of the membership section. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’m sure you will agree it was worth it. Simply go to our website and click on Membership and then Members’ Resources. You will then be asked to enter the current password and will find everything you need in one place – recordings of past talks, recent copies of Asian Textiles etc., plus a new section of Members Profiles – more on that later…..

Upcoming textile events – Peru, Mexico, China, the Silk Road and more….

There are two videos embedded in this blog. Subscribers who receive this via email will need to click on the blue title to go to our WordPress site and read the blog there to be able to view them.

I really enjoyed an online talk about the Peru exhibition at the British Museum by curators Jago Cooper and Cecilia Pardo-Grau. I’ve been informed by longstanding OATG member Pamela Cross that there are some fantastic textiles in this exhibition.

I was amazed to see this feather headdress from the Chimú-Inca culture, and enjoyed learning more about the process of preparing it for display.

I recently blogged about a talk by Elena Phipps as part of the Curator’s Choice series at the Fowler Museum. This particular talk was about Feather Embellishments in Mexican Huipiles and it is now available on Youtube for those who missed it.

Phoenix – a traditional festival badge by Margaret Lee

The Asian Arts Society of Australia (TAASA) has an interesting online event this week.

“Every culture in the world has some form of embroidery in their history but nowhere else has it played such a visible and significant role than in Chinese culture. With a history tracing back to the Neolithic period, embroidery has a continuous position that permeates every echelon and aspect of Chinese society, adapting with the times and, in the process, has itself developed from the fundamental purpose of decoration to fine art status. In this presentation [embroidery specialist] Margaret Lee shares with us key milestones of embroidery’s journey and its central place in Chinese history and culture.” – TAASA website.

This free event takes place on Tuesday 30 November at 18:30, which is 04:30 in the UK, so it only really works for our members in the Southern Hemisphere.

On Thursday 2 December Virginia Postrel will explore the hidden ways textiles have made our world. “The story of humanity is the story of textiles – as old as civilization itself. Textiles created empires and powered invention. They established trade routes and drew nations’ borders. Since the first thread was spun, fabric has driven technology, business, politics, and culture.”

Virginia is the author of The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made The World. This online event begins at 18:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

The next online meeting of the Hajji Baba Club of New York will be on Wednesday 8 December. Dr Mariachiara Gasparini will talk on the subject From Wool to Silk and Back: Development and Evolution of the Eurasian Roundel Motif.

“In the 6th century, roundel motifs began to appear on wool and silk textiles in Chinese and Iranian territories. Through the spreading of Buddhism and Islam in the 8th century, textiles with beaded, lobed, and flowery roundels spread across Eurasia; they have been found in Christian Cathedral treasuries, Egyptian and Japanese repositories, and various archaeological sites. Often used as money by the Chinese, these textiles mainly crossed the borders of empires and kingdoms as diplomatic gifts.”

The talk begins at 18:00 EST, which is 23:00 GMT and is free, but you do need to register for it.

On Thursday 8 December the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, will host another online talk, this time with Victoria Finlay, the author of Fabric: The Hidden History of the Material World. Victoria looks at how stories of our “relationship with cloth are woven in with questions of how and why people through the ages have made it, worn it, invented it, made symbols out of it, and sometimes why they have fought for it.”

Beating tree bark in Papua and attempting to spin cotton in Guatemala are just two of the textile-related experiences Victoria has had, so this should be an enjoyable talk.

Click here to find out more and to book for this talk which begins at 18:00 GMT.

New events

There are so many events coming up that I will be uploading two blogs this week.

©Minjee Kim.

On Thursday 4 November the Korean Cultural Society of Boston will host one of their regular programmes on Korean heritage. The speaker this week will be Dr Minjee Kim and the subject is Han-bok: Dress of Korean Identity. This talk “will shed light on the inception of the term “hanbok” and the composition of the ensembles for men and women, and its constant transformation in the context of modern Korean fashion history. Then it will overview contemporary hanbok ensembles for new-born babies, children, young and middle age adults, as well as weddings, burials, and funerals.” – KCSB website.

For more information click here and to register click here.

Please note that this online event takes place at 19:30 EDT, which is 23:30 GMT – fine for our many North American members but only for night owls in the UK.

Next make a note in your diaries that the proceedings of the 2021 Keimyung International Conference on the Silk Road and Central Asia will be available online from Friday 5 November. The subject of this conference is Textiles From The Silk Road: Origin, Transmission And Exchange. Nine speakers from around the world will present on a wide range of topics including Liao Women’s Dress, Animal Materials in Nomadic Costumes, Silk and Cotton Textiles in Ancient India and Central Asian Textile Motifs in Late Sasanian Art.

Brief summaries of each of the presentations can now be read here, but the videos themselves will not be uploaded until 5 November.

Saturday 6 November is a very busy day for textile lovers!

The Phoebe Hearst Museum will host a Zoom presentation on Asafo flags – these are militia insignia of the Fante states along the southern coast of Ghana. This Zoom event will feature Dr. Gus Casely-Hayford and Karun Thakar in conversation. They will “place Asafo flags within the wider context of global textile arts and reveal how the flags’ seemingly simple patterns can be ‘read’ to reveal aspects of the communities who made them, and the performances in which they played a part.”  – ETC website

To register for this event, which is co-sponsored by the Phoebe Hearst Museum and Tracing Patterns Foundation, click here. It starts at 10:00 PT, which is 17:00 GMT.

A great video of these flags in use, which really brings them to life, and a short talk by Gus Casely-Hayford can be viewed here.

I have blogged about these flags from Karun Thakar’s collection before, when some were exhibited at the Brunei Gallery in London. Over 250 of his flags now form an online exhibition. You can see a high quality enlargement of each flag by clicking on the relevant image.

Before viewing the flags, I would highly recommend reading the excellent short article Proverbs on Parade by Duncan Clarke, written to accompany it. In it he explains that the Asafo were military associations and that the flags are appliqué- and embroidery-decorated cloth banners, which were produced by local specialists.

“Asafo flags are paraded through the fishing villages and towns of the Fante region in a vibrant tradition that depicts a cast of characters blending local mythology with European heraldry. Kings and queens interact with soldiers and musicians, dragons and gryphons, elephants and leopards, whales and sharks, ships, trains and aeroplanes.” – Duncan Clarke.

“Two men stand by a large boiling pot on a fire; one has his hand in the bubbling liquid, telling a rival company ‘it boils but it doesn’t burn’, asserting that the rival company makes a big show but is not actually dangerous.” Text by Duncan Clarke. ©Karun Collection.

Clarke goes on to explain how certain images could only be used by specific groups, and that the use of an image from another group could have dire consequences. He also gives the meaning behind some of these images – many of which are linked to proverbs.

Also taking place on Saturday 6 November is the Rienzi Symposium hosted by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This virtual event explores their current exhibition Hidden Hands: Invisible Workers in Industrial England, which is on show until 2 January 2022. This virtual symposium runs from 10:00-15:00 CDT, which is 15:00-20:00 GMT, and you can see the schedule and register here.

As if that’s not enough historian and author John Vollmer will be giving a virtual presentation for the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art the same day, linked to their current exhibition Weaving Splendor: Treasures of Asian Textiles which I have already blogged about. His talk is entitled Why are Textiles Masterpieces? Asian Textiles in Weaving Splendor and takes place at 13:00 CDT, which is 18:00 GMT.

You can register for this free talk here.

The following day, Sunday 7 November Brian Morehouse will be giving a webinar for the New England Rug Society on the subject Yastiks: A Comparative Study of the Designs of Published and Unpublished Examples. Brian is the author of Yastiks: Cushion Covers and Storage Bags of Anatolia and this talk will explore the changing visual language over time within certain yastik groups. The talk will take place at 13:00 ET, which is 17:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

On Tuesday 9 November the Hajji Baba Club of New York will hold their next meeting online via Zoom. The presenter will be Melinda Watt of the Textile Department, Art Institute of Chicago and her subject will be The Blueberry Pie Carpet: A Morris Carpet at Home in Chicago.

The Art Institute of Chicago has one large and important carpet made by Morris & Co. for the Glessner House, which is located in the historic Prairie District neighbourhood of the city. …. This talk will explore the decoration of the Glessner House, centred on the large entry hall carpet, and focused on the influence of historical and Middle Eastern textiles manifested in the carpet and Morris’ work.

Melinda Watt’s first exhibition at the Institute will open on 18 December and is entitled Morris and Company: The Business of Beauty.

This talk will begin at 18:00 EDT, which is 22:00 GMT. Full details and registration are available here.

Image: Xunka Tulan (Navenchauc, San Lorenzo Zinacantán, Chiapas, Mexico); Wedding huipil, commissioned late 1970s; cotton, feathers; Fowler Museum at UCLA, X91.546; Gift of Mrs. Gene Stuart

On Wednesday 10 November the Fowler Museum has organised another in its Curator’s Choice series. Elena Phipps, author of several books on the textile traditions of the Andean people, and Hector M. Meneses Lozano, Director of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca in Mexico, will discuss Feather Embellishments in Mexican Huipiles.

“The program will briefly trace the history of the huipil and highlight some of its special features. Lozano will share some examples from the extensive collection of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, alongside a few special pieces from the Fowler Museum. The discussion will then focus on a unique group of huipiles woven with spun downy bird feathers.” – Fowler Museum. 

This programme begins at 11:00 PST, which is 19:00 GMT. More details and registration here.

©Victoria Vorreiter.

Gavin Strachan kindly sent me information about this Songs of Memory Journal, written by Victoria Vorreiter, who specialises in documenting spirit intermediaries. There are some remarkable photographs of various ceremonies. Those with a particular interest in the Hmong will enjoy reading her beautifully illustrated article Bridging the Realms of Mortals and Deities. Hmong Spirit Intermediaries and their Numinous Powers.

OATG members may recall that Victoria wrote a long article for our Asian Textiles journal in 2016, which is now available for non-members to read online.

Finally an advance notice of the next OATG meeting. This will be an online presentation by Luz van Overbeeke entitled Japanese Ornamental Textiles Through a Dealer’s Eyes. Luz specialises in ornamental textiles of the Meiji era and will discuss some of the most memorable textiles she has found over the years.

This talk will take place on Thursday 18 November at 18:30 GMT and is free for OATG members. There is a small (£3) charge for non-members. Full details and registration here.

Persian/Indian carpets, Chintz, Anatolian rugs, Textile Fair and Kutchi tie-dye

First a reminder that this Thursday, 26 August 2021, the OATG will host a talk by Dr Dorothy Armstrong, the new May Beattie Visiting Fellow in Carpet Studies at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The talk is entitled 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. Dr Armstrong will talk about some of the difficulties faced in answering the questions posed in the slide below, and the particular line that May Beattie took regarding John Paul Getty’s carpet.

Slide from her presentation © Dr Dorothy Armstrong

This talk begins at 1830 BST and is free for OATG members, and just £3 for non-members. Click here to register for the few remaining place.

On Thursday 2 September 2021 the Fashion and Textile Museum will have another online event related to their current Chintz: Cotton in Bloom exhibition. Their Collections Officer, Gill Cochrane, will “share the secrets hidden within these garments and explore how chintz was used – and re-used – in garment construction in 18th and early 19th centuries. This is a unique opportunity to learn what happens ‘behind the seams’ of a costume exhibition and discover some of the most beautiful fabrics and well-constructed garments of the period.” – FTM.

The talk starts at 18:00 BST and costs just £5. Please click here for more details and to register.

On Saturday 4 September 2021 at 16:00 BST there will be a live online talk by Michael Franses, on carpets from the Orient Stars Collection. This talk is hosted by the Textile Museum, in association with the New England Rug Society and the New York-based Hajji Baba Club. You are strongly advised to watch this very professionally produced one hour video, introducing some of these pieces set out as a virtual exhibition, before attending the online talk. There will be a Q andA session after the talk. For further details and registration please click here.

Also taking place on 4 September 2021 is World Textile Day Wales, which I highlighted in my previous blog. Here is the list of traders:-

Magie and Bob of The African Fabric Shop with fabrics, baskets and beads from all over Africa. Diane and Jim of Textile Traders with batik, ikat, indigo and hemp fabrics, silver hilltribe jewellery and clothes. Susan and Glyn from Susan Briscoe Designs with a huge selection of sashiko, boro and kimono fabrics from Japan. Bronwen of Fabazaar with textiles and clothes from India and Nepal. Tanya of The Running Stitches with kantha work blankets, throws, scarves and jackets from Northern India. Finally, internationally famous but local to Llani – hand knitter Sasha Kagan will be there with her knitting designs and finished pieces.

On 11 September 2021 the World Textile Day team move up to the Bridge of Allan in Scotland for their next event. This will run from 10:00 until 16:00 – but be sure to get there early to get the best selection!

The Zay Initiative aims to “promote an understanding of regional culture, and preserve, collect, document, and conserve Arab historic dress and adornment”. One of the ways they are doing this is through a series of talks called Dialogue on the Art of Arab Fashion. The next in this series takes place on Tuesday 7 September 2021 at 17:00 BST. The Founder of the Zay Initiative, Dr Reem El Mutwali will be in conversation with Shila Desai of EYHO Tours, looking at the tie-dyed head coverings worn by women in Kutch, India. “In the traditional societies of Kutch, tie-dyed head coverings play an important role in every aspect of a woman’s life. They provide protection from the elements, create identity, signify status, express joy or sorrow, and denote inter-religious relations. Over many generations, Kutchi Muslim and Hindu communities have shared a common culture in this harsh desert land and regularly interact with each other. By looking at the ubiquitous odhani, or head covering, this conversation will shed new light on both the intra- and inter-social relationships in these distinct communities. ” – Zay Initiative.

You can register for this event here. Registration will also give you access to a recorded version of this event, so you can watch it at your leisure.

From Indonesia to the Arctic, Greece to Iran, Russia to the Indus Valley and more!

PLEASE NOTE Subscribers who usually read this blog via their email may need to click on the blue title to access it through our WordPress site instead to enable them to watch the video.

There is just so much going on in the textile world at the moment, that this will therefore be quite a long blog,,,,,

OATG member Lesley Pullen is the author of a new book examining the way textiles were presented on eighth to fifteenth century Javanese sculptures. “The equatorial climate of Java has precluded any textiles from this period surviving. Therefore this book argues the textiles represented on these sculptures offer a unique insight into the patterned splendour of the textiles in circulation during this period. This volume contributes to our knowledge of the textiles in circulation at that time by including the first comprehensive record of this body of sculpture, together with the textile patterns classified into a typology of styles within each chapter.” Patterned Splendour has a large number of detailed illustrations, which should provide an invaluable resource for the reader.

A new display was revealed at the Fashion and Textiles Gallery of the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore on 5 April 2021. It is based around the theme Fashionable in Asia and a good overview of the themes covered and some of the textiles on show can be found here.

According to the museum’s website “Early fashion theorists excluded the non-Western world. They saw dress of “uncivilised” people outside of urban Europe as static and unchanging, hobbled by tradition. Seeking to challenge Eurocentric misconceptions, with the latest display in the Fashion and Textiles gallery, we re-centre on Southeast Asia, where indigenous fashions moved at their own pace and with their own standards – but were no less fashionable!”


Image courtesy Adriana Sanroman, From Birth to Death: The Silk Flower Industry in Mexico, Session 1A.

The 2020 Textile Society of America Symposium Hidden Stories/Human Lives had, of necessity, to be held online. The advantage of this virtual format is that the TSA were able to record many of the sessions. Those recordings have now been made available. The subjects are incredibly varied – the silk flower industry in Mexico, inscribed textiles from Egyptian burial grounds, the white Haku of Peru, Hmong dress in China and the ‘Mamluk’ quilt cover, to name just a few. There are over seventeen hours of recordings – enough to satisfy even the most devoted textilian! The easiest way to work out which parts may be of most interest to you is to go to the pdf of the full programme here. The programme is listed on pages 19-27, followed by the abstracts for each paper. Simply identify the talks of interest to you and which session they were part of. For example “Materials and Making of Ṭirāz Textiles” was the third paper in session 2A. This should help when deciding which recordings to watch first.

Next Thursday, 6 May 2021, Dr Moya Carey (Curator of Islamic Collections at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin) will be the speaker for an online event hosted by the Hajji Baba Club of New York. The title of her presentation is Safavid Dynastic Vision: Shah Tahmasp’s Commission of the Ardabil Carpets. The pair of Ardabil carpets were woven for the Safavid dynastic shrine in northwestern Iran. Today they are celebrated as masterpieces of sixteenth-century design and technique,. One of the pair is in the V & A Museum and the other is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “Remembered together, the pair offer a rich context for Safavid Shah Tahmasp’s visionary intentions, for himself and for his dynasty’s sacred tomb complex in Ardabil, northwestern Iran. This talk examines Iran’s political conditions in the year 946H (1539-40, the date woven into each carpet), and the likely dynastic significance of the two hanging lamps that form each carpet’s central axis.” – Hajji Baba website. The talk begins at 11:00 EDT, which is 16:00 BST. To attend the meeting please compete the RSVP here.

One of the ceremonial robes which will be displayed during the exhibition

On 8 May 2021 a new exhibition entitled The Spirit Wraps Around You: Northern Northwest Coast Native Textiles opens at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, Alaska. “This exhibit traces the history of the sacred textiles known today as “Ravens Tail” and “Chilkat” robes. Two dozen robes will carry the story of Native weaving among the Tsimshian, Haida, and Tlingit of Alaska and British Columbia, representing both ancient and modern ceremonial robes made by Alaska Natives and First Nations. Woven from the plush white fur of mountain goats, these robes were seen by early Euroamerican visitors to the northern Northwest Coast when they contacted First Nations and Alaska Native people. Their use was confined to sacred ceremonies, where dancers wore them to display the crests of their clans. Robes were also used as diplomatic gifts to other clans and tribes. In the 1900s, only a few weavers carried these unique tradition into the 21st century.” – museum website. The website mentions a couple of lectures. I have checked with the museum and there will be limited attendance with online registration opening soon. The good news is that they also informed me the lectures will be recorded. More information when I have it!

Cushion Cover, Crete 17th-18th century. Linen, cotton and silk. EA2004.6

The next OATG talk will take place on Thursday 13 May 2021 at 18:30 BST. The speaker will be Dr Francesca Leoni, Assistant Keeper and Curator of Islamic Art at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The subject will be Drawing with Silk: Greek Island Embroideries in the Ashmolean Museum. This talk will explore the visual richness and technical sophistication of 18th- and 19th century Greek embroideries, as well as their debt to the many artistic traditions that flourished around the Mediterranean. It is based on the exhibition Mediterranean Threads – Greek Embroideries 1700 – 1900 AD, which Dr Leoni curated. An online interactive version of the exhibition is available here.

Dr Leoni has also written a very interesting article for HALI, explaining how a discovery in the Ashmolean Museum’s archives threw fresh light on an important area of British textile collecting – the acquisition of Greek island embroideries – and led to a new exhibition and catalogue.

OATG members should now have received their invitation to this talk, but still need to register for it. It is also open to non-members for a small donation. Click here for more details.

Valance. Nineteenth century, Olonetskaya province. Russian State Museum (Boguslavskaja 1975 fig. 22).

On Saturday 15 May 2021 Andrea Rusnock will give an online talk on Russian Folk Embroidery, hosted by the San Francisco School of Needlework and Design. Andrea is a Professor of Art History and will be discussing “Russian embroidery at the end of the Imperial period, when middle-class women increasingly created their own needlework, aided by a proliferation in pattern books, and, at the same time, there was a renewed interest in folk embroidery.” This talk takes place at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST, and you can register for it here.

The Chintz: Cotton in Bloom exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London is due to open on 18 May 2021 subject to government guidelines. This exhibition has been organised by the Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, where a version of it was on display in 2017. “

The complicated technical craftsmanship required to fix bright dyes to cotton, devised across centuries and using complex chemical formulae, meant that for many years Chintz was a closely guarded secret, or preserve of the elite. However, by the 18th century chintz had become more widely accessible. The lightweight, washable, gaily coloured and boldly patterned cottons eventually became a sensation throughout England and across Europe. These developments resulted in the intricate, colourful flowers of chintz fabric being cherished and preserved by generations.

Chintz: Cotton in Bloom showcases some 150 examples of this treasured textile, originating from all around the world; from mittens to wall hangings and from extravagant 18th-century sun hats to stylish mourning dresses.” – FIT website. For more details and booking please click here. You may also enjoy reading this short blog about chintz by Emma Sweeney.

© TRC Leiden

The buteh/boteh motif often appears on chintz, so I thought it was worth sharing the link to this talk by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Many thanks to Cheri Hunter of the TMA/SC for this information. Gillian recently did a Zoom lecture for the Fowler Textile Council, examining the global history of the paisley pattern. The recording of this talk can be viewed here. If you want to know more about this motif it is also well worth visiting the website of the TRC Leiden, which has an excellent online exhibition on the subject.

Stone statue of the Priest-King discovered in Mohenjodaro. He is believed to be wearing resist-printed ajrak cloth.

Those with an interest in early textiles will want to sign up for this talk, Cotton & Colour: A Deep History of Indus Valley Textiles, hosted by the Royal Ontario Museum on 18 May 2021 at 16:00 EDT, which is 21:00 BST. From the earliest evidence of cotton (7,000 BCE) to the importance of fibre arts in the emergence of early urban centres, ROM botanist Deborah Metsger and archaeologist J. Mark Kenoyer will explore the rich and diverse history of textiles in the early settlements of the Indian subcontinent. Click here for more details and to register.

Young woman’s outer parka, Kalaallit, Greenland – before 1860s. © British Museum

The British Museum exhibition Arctic: Culture and Climate has now ended, but the good news is that the museum have now made a virtual tour of it available. You can take your own route, or go to specific sections – the parka above is from the ‘weather proofing’ section. Clicking on the lower case ‘i’ gives additional information. Highly recommended!

Finally, readers will know from my previous blogs of the devastating impact Cyclone Seroja had on the tiny eastern Indonesian island of Savu. I know some of you contributed to the appeal for help, and thought you would like to see that the first load of roofing material has now arrived. This had to be transported ashore by small boats as the jetty is still blocked by a capsized ferry.  If you would like to help please go to the Tracing Patterns Foundation website and ensure you click Meet the Makers – Tewuni Rai as the destination for your donation.

Textiles from Japan, Africa, Bolivia, Tibet, Iran……..

Good news! Some museums are now reopening. Among these is the Östasiatiska Museet in Stockholm.

Their current exhibition, which runs until 15 August 2021, is entitled Boro – The Art of Necessity. On show will be a unique collection of boro objects loaned from the Amuse Museum in Tokyo, as well as newly produced works by Swedish artists. “Ripped, worn, patched and lovingly mended. Boro textiles tell us about the art of surviving on scarce resources in a harsh place. In northern Japan, the winters are cold and the population has historically been poor. Here, among farmers and fishermen, a distinctive female craft was developed in which nothing went to waste.” – museum website.

I like the fact that the textiles have been displayed in such a way that the viewer can see all sides clearly.

Another new exhibition opens in London on Granary Square, King’s Cross on 8 April 2021. This outdoor photography exhibition is called The Silk Road: A Living History . Over 160 images are used to document a journey along this historic trade route undertaken by the photographer in 2019.

Tajik girl dancing in the Pamir mountains. © Christopher Wilton-Steer.

“The exhibition’s linear design creates a physical route for the viewer offering them the chance to travel by proxy…… The show aims to celebrate the diversity of cultural expressions found along the Silk Road, highlight examples of how historical practices, rituals and customs live on today, and also reveal some of the connections between what appear at first glance to be very different cultures. It also seeks to engender interest and understanding between distant cultures and challenge perceptions of less well known and understood parts of the world. Photographs from Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, China and elsewhere will feature in the show. Visitors will be able to access additional content including videos and music via QR codes on each panel of the exhibition.” – Christopher Wilton-Steer. The exhibition runs until 16 June 2021.

Outer-kimono for a young woman (uchikake), 1800 – 30, probably Kyoto, Japan. © Image Courtesy of the Joshibi University of Art and Design Art Museum

Registrations are now open for non-members for the OATG’s next exciting talk (£3 donation) which will take place on Thursday 22 April 2021 at 18:30 BST, which should also work out for our many members in the US. The speaker will be Anna Jackson, Keeper of the Asian department at the V&A and curator of their blockbuster exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk. In this talk Anna will take us on a fascinating journey from the sophisticated culture of seventeenth century Kyoto to the contemporary catwalk and reveal some of the stories behind the exhibition. 

Anna also wrote the introduction to Thomas Murray’s book Textiles of Japan (see my blog of December 2019). In an interview with Jess Cartner-Morley for The Guardian she said her aim in this exhibition was to “overturn the idea of the kimono as static, atrophied object and show it as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion”. She also discussed the history of the kimono, and cultural appropriation. This is well worth a read to whet your appetite for the talk. In another interview for LOVE magazine Anna talks about the difficulty of acquiring some of the pieces, their fragility, and the challenges in displaying them correctly. The exhibition was in three sections. “It begins by unpicking the social significance and heritage of the kimono in 17th century Japan, moving to consider the kimono and its position across a more international agenda, finishing with the progressive transformation of its comtemporary (sic) identity.” Scarlett Baker, LOVE magazine.

This is certain to be a very popular talk so I strongly suggest you register for it as soon as possible via this link. If you are enjoying our programme of talks why not consider becoming a member?

“Furisode with Wave and Crane Design, Made for Nishimura Tokuko, the fourteenth Madame Nishimura” by Chiso Co., Ltd, 1938. Yuzen-dyeing and embroidery on woven silk.

Those with a serious interest in kimono will be delighted to hear of not one, but two more exhibitions dedicated to that topic, both at the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts. The first of these is an online exhibition entitled Kimono Couture: The Beauty of Chiso. This exhibition is organised by the Worcester Art Museum in partnership with Chiso, a 465-year-old kimono design and production house based in Kyoto, Japan. I highly recommend spending some time ‘visiting’ this exhibition. It is divided into eleven parts, covering topics such as design, symbolism and decorative techniques. Clicking on each part will bring up much more information and a video.

Itō Shinsui (1898–1972), Woman with Marumage Hairstyle, 1924, Publisher: Watanabe Shōzaburō, color woodblock print on mica (kirazuri) ground, Gift of Edward Kenway, 1960.7

The second exhibition opened on 6 February 2021 and will end on 2 May 2021. It is entitled The Kimono in Print: 300 Years of Japanese Design and looks at the kimono as a source of design and inspiration through seventy prints. “Print artists from 17th to 20th -century Japan documented ever-evolving trends in fashion, popularized certain styles of dress, and even designed kimonos. The works begin with early prints from the late 17th century, when a more complex and sophisticated attitude towards clothing first appeared, as seen in the lavish prints of the floating world’s celebrity kabuki actors and courtesans. Modern design books and prints from the early 20th century, inspired by or made for kimono, demonstrate how the boundaries between print and textile fashion and design became more fluid.” – museum website. Monika Bincsik of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will give an online talk entitled Kimono Fashion in Kyoto at 18:00 EDT on Thursday 15 April. That works well for our US members, but UK members should note that this starts at 23:00 BST!

An interesting article by Karla Klein Albertson giving the background to these two exhibitions appeared in Antiques and the Arts Weekly. Another very detailed article just looking at the prints appeared in Asian Art newspaper.

Image: Bisa Butler, Broom Jumpers, 2019. Cotton, silk, wool and velvet, 221 cm x 132.7 cm.

In my most recent blog I wrote about an event on 7 April hosted by Selvedge, which has a panel of speakers looking at the subject of African wax prints. They have now added the extraordinary quilt artist Bisa Butler to the list of speakers for that event. Click here for full details and how to book. A reminder that two events linked to the upcoming Chintz exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum take place online on 8th and 9th April – see my previous blog for full details.

Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw artist Meghann O’Brien wearing the Sky Blanket she wove from mountain goat wool

Next Thursday, 8 April 2021 the Fowler Museum will host a conversation with artist Meghann O’Brien and textile scholar Elena Phipps about Indigenous knowledge and creative practice. “Meghann O’Brien is a Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw artist whose Chilkat textiles are based on the knowledge and artistic practices of her ancestors. Her projects engage specialized techniques of basketry and weaving, and use mountain goat wool, cedar bark, and other earthly materials to connect to the rhythms and patterns of the natural world. With these materials, she explores issues related to Indigenous fashion and couture, reframing the past and applying it to present-day life. ” – Fowler Museum.

This event takes place at 11:00 PDT , which is 19:00 in the UK. It is free, but you do need to register for it. There is also an interesting article in Mountain Life Media, which gives more background into how Meghann began weaving and the creation of her Sky Blanket. The short video shows how the blanket moves when worn.

© Cheri Hunter

On Saturday 10 April Cheri Hunter, the dynamic President of the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California, will be the speaker at their next event. Her topic will be the Textiles, Costumes & Pile Trappings of the Eastern Grasslands of Tibet. Cheri’s background is in film editing in Hollywood and she certainly brings that artistic eye to her photography. She has written many articles with photo-spreads for Hali. This illustrated talk “will emphasize both the local and imported textiles, costumes and pile horse trappings in use throughout the Kham and Amdo grasslands, as well as in shaman rituals and horse competitions, where all of the participants, including the horses, are dressed in their finest…… Please note that this program is a cultural travelogue rather than a scholarly program, with an emphasis on the textiles, costumes and horse trappings worn in festivals.” – Cheri Hunter. The talk takes place at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 in the UK. More details and registration here.

The Andean Textile Arts organisation will be hosting a talk on 13 April entitled Renewing Value in Southern Bolivia’s Textiles. The speaker will be Kevin Healy, who will introduce the audience to Antropologos del Surandino (ASUR). “ASUR is a Bolivian cultural foundation that has pioneered efforts to revitalize the Andean textile traditions in southern Bolivia. Since the late 1980s, ASUR has developed community-based programs that provide a way for the region’s rural indigenous weavers to continue creating and producing their beautiful Andean designs. Kevin will discuss how ASUR ’s work has provided a commercial outlet for the weavers in the capital city of Sucre, while also establishing a textile museum visited by multitudes of Bolivian schoolchildren and national and foreign tourists.” – ATA. The talk begins at 19:00 EDT, which is midnight in the UK – one for the night owls!

Carpets in the Bardini Museum, Florence

Next, one for the carpet lovers. On Thursday 15 April the New York-based Hajji Baba Club will host Alberto Boralevi who will talk about Stefano Bardini and the International Carpet Trade at the end of the Nineteenth Century. Bardini was an Italian antiques dealer based in Florence who handled many historical carpets, building up relationships with prominent collectors and museums. Twenty-two such carpets are housed in the Museo Stefano Bardini in Florence. The Bardini archives have a collection of over six thousand original negatives which show most of the objects which passed through his hands. To register for this talk, which takes place at 11:00 EDT (16:00 BST), please contact Elisabeth Parker, Vice-President of the Hajji Baba Club, using this form.

Camel chest band (detail), Qashqa’i people. Collection of Fred Mushkat

On Saturday 24 April Fred Mushkat, author of Weavings of Nomads in Iran: Warp-faced Bands and Related Textiles, will talk about the Weavings of Nomads in Iran as part of the Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation series. “Warp-faced bands, containers and covers are among the rarest and least studied of all weavings made by nomads in Iran…… In this illustrated talk, collector and researcher Fred Mushkat will provide an introduction to these weavings, focusing on different warp-faced structures, how and why these structures were used, which nomads made them and how to distinguish one nomadic group’s work from another. Mushkat will also explore design repertoire, function and the importance of these textiles to the women who made them. ” – Textile Museum website. The talk takes place at 11:00 EDT which is 16:00 BST and you can register for it here.   You may also be interested in a blog I wrote in February on Nomads and their culture in Iran and Kazakhstan, which gave links to several articles and books on this subject.