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: Textiles from Sumba, Indonesia

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Exhibition dates: this is an online exhibition, available to view indefinitely

A special exhibition of textiles from Sumba, curated by HALI contributing editor Thomas Murray and drawing from his extensive collection, is available to view online. It begins:

“The island of Sumba may be found on a map between Bali and New Guinea but it exists in its own world, far apart from those antipodal lands. Divided east and west by language and environmental conditions, the west tends to be more wet and green and the east, dryer.

Sumbanese religion, Marapu, recognizes that a dualistic symmetry exists in the universe, that of male and female, hot and cold, sun and moon, cloth and metal. Here there are good and bad spirits hovering nearby, needing ritual offerings on a regular basis. The ancestors must most especially be cared for.

Sumba is thus home to one of the strongest animistic tribal societies found in Indonesia, perhaps most famous for its notorious custom of cutting off the heads of enemies and placing them on the branches of a designated tree, the pohon andung, at the entrance of the village. Such trees represented the Tree of Life as well as serving to remind viewers of the power of the raja.

Sumba has a rich megalithic heritage, featuring giant stone tomb memorials. Sumbanese houses, particularly the customary houses found in royal villages, known as rumah adat, are understood to be cosmic diagrams, with the underworld of the animals below, the mid-level for human habitation and the high roof being the realm of the ancestors. This is also the place where the pusaka heirloom treasures are stored, to be closer to the departed souls; precious gold jewelry and fabulously rare and beautiful textiles were kept just under the peak of the roof on both sides of the island. But the art of weaving and dyeing achieved greatest heights in the east, with ikat textiles adding bright colors to the dusty brown background of this, the dry side of the island.”

To view the exhibition, visit Thomas Murray’s website.

Exhibition: Striking Patterns – Global Traces in Local Ikat Fashion Design

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Exhibition dates: 21 October 2016 – 26 March 2017

In eastern Indonesia and Timor-Leste people wear hand-woven, decorative ikat cloths as a mark of prestige and to flaunt their taste for fashion at festive events. Ikat is a form of art in which the yarn is tied and dyed – the Indonesian term ‘ikat’ means ‘to tie’ – before weaving. Woven into the patterns are myths, rituals, recent historical events, imported motifs as well as new fashion trends. Ever since they began producing ikat, weavers have incorporated foreign influences. Relying on old pieces from the museum’s exceptional collections as well as new cloths, including contemporary interpretations by Ito Joyoatmojo and Susi Kramer, the exhibition Striking Patterns: Global Traces in Local Ikat Fashion illuminates the development of the tradition, illustrating how these highly skilled weavers have already long been part of the process of globalization.

Become enthralled by beautiful shoulder cloths, hip wraps and sarongs! This exhibition unfolds a sea of flowers. In particular, the Indian eight-pointed flower features in almost endless variations, accompanied by a rain of European roses. Animals populate the cloths, just as tourists do. We also find Catholic motifs in the shape of crucifixes and angels, while synthetic yarns and bright
colours lend some of the exhibits a radiant touch of modern fashion.

This exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, published in German and English.

For more information, visit the website of the Museum der Kulturen, Basel, Switzerland.

Exhibition: Woven Power – Ritual Textiles of Sarawak and West Kalimantan

 

College of the Holy Cross - Woven Power

Exhibition dates: 31 August – 14 December 2016

Pua kumbu are magnificent, intricately dyed, hand-loomed cotton ikat textiles once woven as religious objects par excellence by the Iban and the related Dayak peoples who produced them in Southeast Asia. They were said to be full of powerful spirits and designed to be extraordinarily beautiful to attract the attention of the gods and invite them to draw near to human ceremonies. Over decades, emeritus Tufts University engineering professor John Kreifeldt amassed a comprehensive collection of pua kumbu, sungkit wraps and kain kebat skirts from Sarawak and West Kalimantan, with examples from the 1800s to 1940. Kreifeldt is the primary lender and a collaborator on this exhibition at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts; other than a few textiles, most have never been displayed before in any museum.

Fieldwork anthropological essays by curator Susan Rodgers will accompany the exhibition. ‘Woven Power’ is Rodgers’ fifth exhibition of Southeast Asian textiles at Cantor Art Gallery.

For more information, visit the website of the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts, USA.

Exhibition: World Ikat Textiles – Ties That Bind

Brunei Gallery - World Ikat Textiles

Exhibition dates: 15 April – 25 June 2016

This exhibition celebrates the rich legacy of ikat, an age-old textile technique stretching across the continents of the world. This unique collection brings together an array of priceless pieces of ikat textiles with live demonstrations by master weavers, a symposium, film screenings and a book display. This program reflects the World Crafts Council’s global commitment to nurture, promote and revive precious indigenous craft skills. It also serves to connect the skilled practitioners from across these diverse regions to contemporary society and promote greater awareness of the handwoven tradition and its innovation.

There is also a series of events scheduled in relation to this exhibition:
· Thursday 14 April: Opening of exhibition with focal lobby display on ‘mud-mee’ ikat textiles of Thailand
· Friday 13 May: Focal lobby display changes to Indian ikat textiles.
· Saturday 14 & Sunday 15 May: Symposium ‘Ikat Textiles Ties That Bind (Past, Present and Future)’
· Thursday 9 June: Focal lobby display changes to Central Asian ikat textiles with supporting event.

For more information, visit the website of the Brunei Gallery, London.

Exhibition: Mood Indigo – Textiles from around the World

Mood Indigo

Exhibition dates: 9 April – 9 October 2016

‘Mood Indigo: Textiles From Around the World’ honours the unique ability of the colour blue to create many moods in cloth.

Drawn primarily from the Seattle Art Museum’s global textile collection, ‘Mood Indigo’ illuminates the historic scope of this vibrant pigment.

The exhibition features a set of tapestries from Belgium, a silk court robe from China, a vast array of kimonos from Japan, batiks and ikats from Indonesia and Africa, and ancient fragments from Peru and Egypt.

An immersive contemporary installation devoted to indigo by Rowland Ricketts will be accompanied by a soundtrack by sound artist Nobert Herber that unveils the musical nuances indigo can suggest. From the sultry darkness of midnight to the vitality of a bright sky, come let the myriad blues in their multiple forms surround you.

For more information, visit the website of the Seattle Art Museum, USA.

Event: OATG’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations – Talk by Ruth Barnes on the Ashmolean’s Robert Shaw Collection

Ashmolean - Robert Shaw Collection cap - OATG 20th Anniversary

Event date: Saturday 8 August 2015, 2–5pm

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Oxford Asian Textiles Group (OATG), this talk will examine the remarkable collection of ikat coats and other garments from Central Asia collected by explorer Robert Shaw in 1868‒1869 on his travels from India to Yarkand and Kashgar.

In 1995 Dr Ruth Barnes initiated the founding of the OATG, with the specific aim of making the Oxford textile collections better known to specialists and the interested public. Since leaving the Ashmolean Museum, Ruth is now Senior Curator in the Department of Indo-Pacific Art at Yale University, USA.

Drinks will be served from 2pm, and the talk will take place at 2.30pm. Questions and refreshments, including birthday cake, will follow!

Tickets £5/£4 concessions. Free entry for OATG members. Booking is essential: click here to book.

For more information, visit the Ashmolean event’s Facebook page.