Baluch rugs, Filipino textiles, Indian textile labels and Indonesian batik in manuscripts

On Saturday 10 December 2022 a webinar entitled The Intrigue of Baluch Rugs will be jointly hosted by the TMA/SC, NERS and the Textile Museum. The speaker will be DeWitt Mallary, an independent scholar from Vermont, who has written extensively on this subject.

“The set of rugs bought, sold and collected under the catch-all name “Baluch” actually includes the products of a number of weaving groups in different areas of northeast Iran and northwest Afghanistan.


In addition to certain iconic types, there is an uncommon diversity of idiosyncratic, creative mixing of designs and styles. The most exciting examples of Baluch weaving all use outstanding wool, enabling intensely saturated colors. This virtual presentation led by DeWitt Mallary will look at many of the finest examples of Baluch rugs and bags of various types, and discuss what makes them outstanding, letting the objects demonstrate the intrigue of this group of weavings.” – TMA/SC

This free event takes place at 09:00 PT, which is 17:00 GMT, and you can register for it here.

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Baluch lovers may also be interested in this new book by Thomas Cole, From The Land Of The Sun: The Richard Stewart Collection Of Baluch Rugs, Bags & Trappings. It includes over a hundred colour plates, as well as many previously unpublished photographs from the region.

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A reminder that the Fabricating Fashion exhibition at the Art Institute Chicago ends on 02 January 2023. This exhibition “celebrates the artistry and rich legacy of an extraordinary range of fabrics for clothing around the world……. While a number of techniques showcased in this presentation—such as dyeing, embroidery, printing, and weaving—are practiced globally, other materials and methods are more closely associated with particular cultures: Indian cotton, Chinese silk, French embroidery, West African indigo, among them.” – AIC website

Woman’s Adire Wrapper, mid-20th century, Yoruba

A free virtual lecture will take place on Monday 12 December at 14:00 CST, which is 20:00 GMT. Curators Melinda Watt and Monika Bincsik will discuss the strategies they have used in this exhibition “for exhibiting clothing and textiles to highlight that fashion in locations around the globe shows mutual interrelationships”. You can register for it here.

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I’ve blogged previously about the current exhibition at the Ayala Museum in Manila. Intertwined: Transpacific, Transcultural Philippines closes at the end of this month. Next Saturday 10 December will see the launch via Zoom of the exhibition catalogue. This takes place at 17:00 local time, which is unfortunately 01:00 on the 11th GMT. Register for it here.

“The exhibition and its joint publication open up visual and verbal conversations on the complexities and contradictions of Filipino art and identity. By illuminating the Filipino’s transcultural heritage resulting from pre- and post-colonial maritime exchanges with diverse cultures in Asia, America, and Europe, Filipinos can gain a better understanding of our culture and take pride in the excellence we’ve shown throughout history in the arts, diplomacy, entrepreneurship, and the global economy.” – Ayala Museum

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OATG member Fiona Kerlogue has recently written a guest blog for the British Library on the subject of Batik designs in a Javanese manuscript: Serat Damar Wulan. This particular manuscript illustrates scenes of everyday life in Java in the late eighteenth century. In the blog Dr Kerlogue examines the clothes and textiles depicted in Serat Damar Wulan. This is an extract from her new book on the history of batik, entitled Batik: Traces through time, which is illustrated by collections in the National Museum of the Czech Republic. Many of us enjoyed the talk Fiona gave to the OATG about this collection in September, the recording of which is available to members on our website.

Figure 8. Damar Wulan’s servants in short trousers of striped lurik early in the story. Serat Damar Wulan. British Library, MSS Jav. 89, f. 116v
Figure 9. Now ennobled, Damar Wulan’s servants have adopted superior garments, and have servants of their own wearing lurik. Serat Damar Wulan. British Library, MSS Jav. 89, f. 206r 

“The story [in the manuscript] is particularly significant in relation to costume, partly because of the changes in status which the characters undergo and how these are reflected in the clothes they wear……. The central character, Damar Wulan, is a nobleman but is appointed as stable boy to the ruler of Majapahit, and then imprisoned; eventually he himself becomes king of Majapahit. His changes in status are reflected in the clothes he wears; the clothing worn by other actors in the story also indicates their status.” – Fiona Kerlogue

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Finally advance notice of a book that will definitely be on my list. Russian Textiles: Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia has long been a favourite of mine. Its author, Susan Meller, has been working on a new book, which will be published in February 2023, entitled Labels of Empire, Textile Trademarks: Windows into India in the Time of the Raj. With 1285 illustrations of the labels, most of which are in colour, this is sure to be a visual feast.

©Susan Meller

“In the 1880s, when the British textile industry was at its most prosperous to date, much of the world’s population wore at least some article of clothing made from fabric produced in the mills of Lancashire. From 1910 to 1913 alone, more than 8 billion yards of cloth were woven, cut into prescribed lengths, folded, stamped, labeled, and baled. Most of this output was for export–with 40 percent of it shipped to India.

To differentiate their goods, British textile manufacturers pasted illustrated paper labels known as “shipper’s tickets” to the faceplate of each piece of folded cloth sold into the Indian market. Designed, printed, and registered in Manchester, these appealing chromolithographed images drew attention to the offerings of a particular firm–and much like present-day branding, ensured their ongoing notice within the bustling bazaars of India. “ – Susan Meller

Thanks to Chris Martens for reminding me of the works of this author. Do let me know of events and articles to share with other textile lovers!

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Evenki, Malay, Indian, Indonesian and Afghan textile-related events

A new display has recently been created at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. The subject is Wandering in Other Worlds: Evenki Cosmology and Shamanic Traditions. Through the use of virtual reality headsets, visitors are able to learn more about this “diverse cultural group living across Northern and Central Asia. They are primarily reindeer-herding and hunting people, although in the steppes, Evenki took up horse herding, while in the Arctic, fishing became an important occupation.

Photograph of an Evenki shaman with diur (drum), taken by Maria Czaplicka, 1914-1915

“In 2019, artist Anya Gleizer, researcher Pablo Fernandez Velasco and anthropologist Jaanika Vider journeyed to Evenkia in the Siberian Arctic, retracing the route of an expedition led by anthropologist Maria Czaplicka in 1914–15. Using a VR headset and digital versions of the Museum’s collections, the team hoped to learn more about the objects Czaplicka had brought to Oxford a century before. Swiping through photographs on an iPad and visiting Oxford via the VR headset, locals in Chirinda and Tura shared their stories with them.” Pitt Rivers website

I’m glad to learn this display will be in place until September 2023, as it gives me the chance to read Undreamed Shores – The hidden heroines of British anthropology by Frances Larson, which features the life and work of Maria Czaplicka among others. See this earlier blog for more details.

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OATG members will be delighted to learn that three more talks have been added to the password-protected Members Resources section of our website. This can be found under Events. New members (from the UK and further afield) are always welcome to join this small but growing group of textile enthusiasts. Click here to find out more.

Recordings of these three lectures are now available for OATG members in the Member’s Resources section of our website.

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Thanks go to Sandra Sardjono for alerting me to this webinar, taking place on Thursday 6 October, which has an interesting line-up of speakers. The topic is Safeguarding Textile Heritage and it begins at 19:30 Indian Standard Time, which is 15:00 BST. Click here for more details and to register.

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Lovers of Indonesian textiles who are able to visit Switzerland next month are in for a treat. Collector Georges Breguet, who has written recently for our Asian Textiles journal, is exhibiting some of his cloths from the island of Sumba at Vésenaz near Geneva.

The exhibition will open on Saturday 8 October and close on Sunday 23 October – just a short run so don’t delay.

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Also taking place on 8 October is World Textile Day – South of England. The venue is Brockenhurst Hall in Hampshire and as usual there will be an exciting selection of textiles for sale from a variety of different traders.

John and Joan Fisher of Khayamiya with some of their Egyptian wall hangings.

Entrance is free, but there is a small charge should you wish to attend any of the talks – highly recommended. Click here for further details.

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Saturday 8 October is proving to be a very busy day! The New England Rug Society will host a Zoom talk by Luca Emilio Brancati on the subject of Afghan War Rugs 1979-2022. He will examine how these rugs have developed from the Russian period until now. Dr Brancati is the co-author of this book on the subject, and in 1988 organised the first exhibition of Afghan war rugs .

“The Afghan carpets from Luca Emilio Brancati ‘s Turin collection have the particularity of portraying in their decorations the instruments of war common in Afghanistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion. These rare and extraordinary “textile documents” testify to the vitality of the culture of carpet in Afghanistan and the ability of the local nomadic and village manufacturing, capable of capturing new suggestions for carpet decoration from the environment in which it lives.

The Turin collection on the carpets of the Russo-Afghan war was the first of its kind to be exhibited for the first time thirty years ago in Milan and is the only one consisting of carpets exclusively made before the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan.”

Photo ©La Repubblica. From an exhibition held at the Palazzo Lascaris in Turin.

The talk begins at 13:00 ET, which is 18:00 BST, and you can register for it here.

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On Sunday 9 October John Ang will be giving a Zoom talk for the International Hajji Baba Society on Splendors of Malay World Textiles – the subject of his current exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. The exhibition has seven hundred textiles, divided into twelve major categories, plus textiles from other countries, which relate to these Malay examples.

John with a display of some of his textiles

This article from Malay Mail gives a further insight into John and his collection. The talk takes place at 17:00 EDT, which is 22:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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This Sunday is also the date of the annual Textile Society London Antique and Vintage Textile Fair.

“The Textile Society London Antique Textile Fair offers an outstanding range of vintage fashion, antique textiles and costume sourced from around the world. Textiles from the 18th century up to the swinging 1960s and 70s, furnishings including pre-1950s rugs, and unique fashion accessories can be found here. Visitors can explore the fair for secondhand books, ephemera and advice on textile conservation.

Whether a textile designer or student looking for design inspiration, a collector looking for a unique addition, or just a visitor wanting to browse beautiful materials and objects, this fair cannot be missed.” Textile Society website.

A selection of textiles that will be available from Slow Loris. ©Martin Conlan

The location is Chelsea Old Town Hall on the Kings Road SW3 5EZ. The Fair is open to the general public from noon, but early entry from 10:00 is available to Trade, Early Bird ticket holders and Textile Society members. Click here for more details.

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Female anthropologists, textiles and carpets from India, Indonesia and Persia, an exciting textile fair and curating opportunity…..

On Saturday 10 September experts from the World Textile Day team will descend on The Guild Hall in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, for a one day pop up textile bazaar. They will bring with them a range of amazing textiles for sale from around the globe. They will also be happy to look at any textiles or pieces of costume you bring in to help identify what it is and where it comes from – they may even offer to buy it!

Experts confirmed are:

  • Martin Conlan of Slow Loris Textiles – an absolute authority on the minority textiles of southwestern China with stunning indigos, embroideries and fabulous costume pieces.
  • Susan Briscoe well-known author, teacher and expert in Japanese textiles.
  • Tanya Byrne of The Running Stitches with beautiful kantha work scarves, throws and quilts from northern India.
  • John and Joan Fisher with a stunning collection of applique and quilting from Egypt.
  • Diane and Jim Gaffney of Textile Traders with their 40 years of experience in south east Asian textiles – particularly in the batik and ikat of Indonesia and the indigo and natural dyes of Northern Thailand.
  • Magie Relph and Bob Irwin of The African Fabric Shop with an amazing array of West African wax print plus textiles from the traditions of all the corners of the Continent.

Entry is free and the event runs from 10 am to 4 pm. More details here.

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On Saturday 17 September batik expert Sabine Bolk will give a talk at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore on Developments in Batik history in the 19th century, imitations, and other influences from abroad. This is in conjunction with the current exhibition Batik Kita: Dressing in Port Cities.

Detail from a batik Belanda (Dutch batik) inspired by images seen in European fairy tales and magazines. “Slamet Pake” is urban slang of “Selamat Pakai”, meaning “enjoy wearing”. Kain panjang (detail). Central Java, Pekalongan, 1920s. Batik tulis. Cotton, synthetic dyes. ACM, T-0811.

Please note this is an in person event and is not available online.

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Also taking place on 17 September is an online talk as part of the Textile Museum’s Rug and Textile Appreciation sessions. The subject this time is Carpet Masters of Persia, and the speaker is Hadi Maktabi, the author of The Persian Carpet: The Forgotten Years, 1722-1872.

He will present “a detailed overview of the urban workshop tradition in Persia from the Timurid era to the 20th-century revival. This virtual lecture will cover all major weaving centres and explore the distinct characteristics of workshop structure and organization in each”.  – TM website

Detail of a wool carpet made in Isfahan by the workshop of Agha Ahmad Ajami circa 1900, depicting an ancient Persian queen called Pourandokht.

This free talk begins at 11:00 EDT, which is 16:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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Now to a hybrid talk, which will take place in person in Oxford, as well as on Zoom. On Wednesday 21 September anthropologist and author Frances Larson will talk about her book Undreamed Shores: The Hidden Heroines of British Anthropology.

“In the opening two decades of the twentieth century, at a time when women were barely recognized at the University of Oxford, five women trained at the Pitt Rivers Museum and became Britain’s first professional female anthropologists. Between them, they did pioneering research in Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Siberia, Egypt, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and the pueblos of southwest America. Through their work they challenged the myths that constrained their lives. Yet when they returned to England, they found loss, madness and regret waiting for them.” – PRM website

Maria Czaplicka, author of Aboriginal Siberia: a study in social anthropology. © Pitt Rivers

The talk begins at 18:00 BST and you can register for either the in-person event or an online ticket here.

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Also taking place on 21 September, but this time in Canberra, Australia, is a talk by Toolika Gupta, the Director of the Indian Institute of Craft and Design. Her subject is Sherwani: The influence of British rule on elite Indian menswear.

She will explore “the history of Indian menswear fashion by looking at the changing trends— clothing preferences, popular garments, and style—during the British rule. She traces Indian menswear from the 17th century to the early decades of the 21st century narrating how the flowing jamas and angrakhas of the earlier era changed to the achkan which was followed by a more tailored sherwani during the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries.”

Painting of last Nizam of Hyderabad accompanied by men some of whom are sporting sherwanis. Source: Wikipedia

This talk takes place by Zoom at 18:00 local time, which is 09:00 BST and 13:30 in Jaipur. More information and a link to registration can be found here.

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On Saturday 24 September the San Diego Museum of Art will host an online talk by Sylvia Houghteling, Assistant Professor of the History of Art at Bryn Mawr College. Her first book, The Art of Cloth in Mughal India, was published earlier this year. The subject of this particular talk is Cultures of Cloth in Mughal South Asia.

“In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a vast array of textiles circulated throughout South Asia in the lands ruled by the Mughal Empire. Made from rare fibers and crafted using virtuosic techniques, these exquisite objects animated early modern experience, from the intimate, sensory pleasure of garments to the monumentality of imperial tents. This lecture tells stories of how textiles crafted and collected across South Asia participated in political negotiations, fostered social conversations, and conveyed personal feeling across the breadth of the Mughal Empire.” – museum website

Persian courtier (detail), ca. 1615. Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper. Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, 1990.457.

You can find out more about this lecture, for which there is a small charge, and register for it here. It begins at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST.

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Some rug and textile groups have really come into their own during the pandemic. One of these is the New England Rug Society (NERS), who have an excellent programme of online talks, and a newsletter called View from the Fringe.

On Saturday 24 September Walter Denny, author of How to Read Islamic Carpets, will give a webinar entitled What the Hell Is That? – Encountering Unknown Carpets in Private and Museum Collections and the Marketplace.

“One of the pleasures—and frustrations—of studying and enjoying carpets is encountering the unexpected or the unknown. Yesterday’s close encounters with alien carpets have often morphed into today’s basic knowledge. In this illustrated lecture, Walter Denny will discuss his experiences with “wild cards” that have continued to appear, with disconcerting frequency, during his fifty-six years of studying, photographing, and analyzing carpets in private collections, museum collections, and the marketplace.” – NERS newsletter

Kilim fragment © Walter Denny

The webinar begins at 13:00 ET, which is 18:00 BST and you can register for it here.

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I was contacted recently by Jill Winder, Associate Curator (Decorative Arts & Artefacts) at the University of Leeds – the home of the International Textile Collection. They are looking to recruit a Project Collections Officer to catalogue a significant collection of Indonesian textiles.

Double ikat from Bali. Coleman Collection

This collection was previously loaned to them by a member of the OATG. Closing date for applications is 23 September 2022 and you can find out more about it here.

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Events and exhibitions featuring textiles from India, Japan, the Philippines, China and Peru

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 videos.

Finally meeting again in person!

Several OATG members recently visited the Fashion and Textile Museum, London to see the exhibition 150 years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk. The group was guided around the exhibition by Sue Miller, and were grateful for her insights.

Woollen cloak by Livia Paplernick

One of the pieces that stood out was this wonderful woollen cloak, incorporating cotton hand embroidery, glass, jewels and metal threads. It was one of four pieces made by Livia Paplernick for her final show, and was chosen to represent the contemporary aspect of the Royal School of Needlework.

In my most recent blog I mentioned an event at the Royal Ontario Museum.  The video of Curator Conversations: For the Past, Present and Future of Ajrakh Blockprinting is now available to view at your leisure.

In it Sarah Fee is in conversation with textile artist Salemamad Khatri on his work to create and revitalize Ajrakh blockprinting in Kachchh, India. They are joined by Abdulaziz Khatri, trade manager at Khamir (a platform for the promotion of traditional art) to explore the role of artists and their supporters to preserve and promote the culture, community and environment of Kachchh.  

A key collaborator of Canadian contemporary artist Swapnaa Tamhane in the creation of the exhibition Swapnaa Tamhane: Mobile Palace, Khatri’s work is an integral part of the installations. Here he gives his perspective on the process of producing the textiles for the exhibition, and the difference between producing his own artwork and working with a contemporary visual artist. 

Turning next to a few events taking place around the world.

A new permanent exhibition of textiles has opened at the Ayala Museum in Manila. Skeins of Knowledge, Threads of Wisdom: The Mercedes Zobel Collection of Indigenous Philippine Textiles has been curated by Patricia M. Araneta and Floy Quintos, and the installation was designed by Gino Gonzalez. It shows how the “indigenous textile arts in the Philippines demonstrate the ingenuity, creativity, adaptability, and sophistication of the early Filipinos.” – museum website.

Left: an important tritik technique suit worn only by men of the magani rank. Right: A Bagobo jacket of cloth discarded from sails and sacks, ornamented with trade beads and mother-of-pearl shown above a pair of pantaloons with ikat and beading. Photo © Floy Quintos

Even if (like me) you can’t go to the exhibition, I would strongly recommend reading this excellent guide, produced by the museum. It has superb images – though some of them do take a while to download. I was fascinated to learn that abaca (fibre from a plant in the banana family) cloth gets its sheen from being burnished with a cowrie shell.

Abaca cloth burnished with cowrie shell.

The temporary exhibition Langs Geborduurde Wegen (Along Embroidered Roads) at the Museum de Kantfabriek in Horst, The Netherlands will now be on show until the end of 2022. It showcases some of the textiles from the extensive collection of Ien Rappoldt, who has been visiting Guizhou province for the past two decades, recording the embroidery art of the women.

The special exhibition Humans, Beasts, Gods. Textile Treasures from Ancient Peru continues at the Abegg-Stiftung in Switzerland until 13 November 2022.

Among the holdings of the Abegg-Stiftung in Riggisberg is a small but impressive collection of textiles from Ancient Peru. The majority of these early Peruvian textiles were collected by Werner Abegg between 1930 and 1933.

“The most interesting of these are now presented to the public for the first time in a dedicated exhibition.
The peoples of Ancient Peru were already producing a vast array of finely crafted fabrics and garments over two thousand years ago. That we can marvel at them today is thanks to a combination of climatic and geographical conditions, specifically the dry, salty soils of the desert regions of coastal Peru, in which these precious artefacts were preserved. Protected against both moisture and light, they survived the ravages of time either as offerings to the gods or as grave goods, the burial customs of past civilizations being a crucial factor in the “survival” of countless Peruvian textiles. ” – Museum website

I’ve already blogged several times about the Japanese textiles exhibition currently showing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Dark blue-ground festival kimono decorated with sea creatures; Cloth: cotton; tsutsugaki (freehand resist); The John R. Van Derlip Fund and the Mary Griggs Burke Endowment Fund established by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke FoundationFoundation

On Thursday 18 August textile conservator Dr Ishii Mie will examine Japanese Textiles: Traditional Dyes and Conservation Methods. An associate professor of art at Saga University, Japan, Dr. Ishii will introduce methods of textile conservation and recovery using examples from the royal collection stored at Shuri Castle in Okinawa, which was severely damaged by fire in 2019, and will describe the various techniques of textile dyeing in Japan. This is an in-person event, which begins at 18:30 CDT. Click here to book.

A new exhibition opens this week at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney to coincide with the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.

Textile length decorated with beetle wings, India. Acquired 1883. Powerhouse collection. Photo by Zan Wimberley

The exhibition is called Charka and Kargha – a charka being a spinning wheel and a kargha a loom. “The exhibition will feature over 100 rare items that date back to the foundational collections of the Powerhouse acquired since the 1880s. In addition to their beauty, many of the textiles featured in the exhibition incorporate spinning, weaving, dyeing and embroidery techniques. Highlights include block-printed textiles, known as Fustat fragments, believed to be made in Gujarat in the 1400s.” – Museum website

This exhibition runs until January 2023.

I’ve blogged previously about the Kimono Style exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum in New York. On Saturday 20 August 2022 two Met experts, Monika Bincsik and Marco Leona, “explore the history and modernization of the Japanese kimono. Learn about Japan’s famed weaving, dying, and embroidery techniques along with discoveries from new scientific research.” – Museum website.

Kyōgen suit (Suō) with rabbits jumping over waves, Japan mid-19th century.

This is a pre-recorded programme which will be available on YouTube and Facebook at 10:00 EDT, which is 15:00 BST. Click here for more details.

Japanese, Indian and Southeast Asian textile events.

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. 

My apologies for the long gap between blogs. I’ve been travelling in Indonesia doing some personal research and leading another textile tour. Its taken me a while to get back in gear…….

Palm leaves (some of which have been sliced into fine strips) drying on the island of Flores, and a lady using some of the dried strips for ikat binding. © Sue Richardson

A new exhibition opened a couple of weeks ago at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Kimono Style: The John C. Weber Collection, runs until February 2023. The exhibition looks at how the kimono has changed over time. In the late Edo period (1615-1868) the main buyers of kimono were the ruling military class.

“At the same time, a dynamic urban culture emerged, and the merchant class used its wealth to acquire material luxuries. Kimono, one of the most visible art forms, provided a way for the townspeople to proclaim their aesthetic sensibility……..In the Meiji period (1868–1912), Western clothing was introduced to Japan. Simultaneously, modernization and social changes enabled more women to gain access to silk kimonos than ever before. Around the 1920s, affordable ready-to-wear kimono (meisen) became very popular and reflected a more Westernized lifestyle.” – museum website

Early nineteenth century summer robe (Hito-e) with Court carriage and waterside scene. Lent by John C. Weber Collection

If like me you missed the recent exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington DC Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design you will be keen to watch this thirty minute video tour by the curator, Lee Talbot. It’s really excellent and the pace is just right, with lots of close-ups of the textiles.

Video tour of the exhibition by Lee Armstrong Talbot

Next Saturday, 25 June, OATG members Ruth Barnes and Sandra Sardjono will be taking part in an online panel for the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. The subject is Loss, Hope, and Conservation in Southeast Asian Textiles.

“Colonialism, changing customs, war, and contemporary collecting practices have all impacted the use and meaning of textiles in Southeast Asia. In this online Re-History Series discussion, a panel of experts explores themes of loss, destruction, and conservation during colonial periods as well as the present day. They will discuss efforts to center the makers’ voices and recover from losses through research, conservation, and collaboration.” – museum website.

Ruth is now Curator of Indo-Pacific Art at Yale University and Sandra is the founder and president of the Tracing Patterns Foundation. The other panelists are conservator Julia Brennan of Caring for Textiles, Cherubim Quizon, who specializes in textiles of the Philippines, and Natasha Reichle, curator of the Weaving Stories exhibition.

This free event takes place via Zoom from 10:00-12:00 PDT, which is 18:00-20:00 BST. Tickets need to be booked in advance.

A kantha coverlet, Bemgal, early twentieth century. © Victoria and Albert Museum

Next Saturday also sees the opening of a new exhibition entitled Dressed by Nature: Textiles of Japan at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, showcasing some of the Japanese textiles they acquired from Thomas Murray, the author of Textiles of Japan.

“The Japanese archipelago is home to extremely diverse cultures that made clothing and other textile objects in a kaleidoscope of materials and designs. This exhibition will focus on the resourcefulness of humans to create textiles from local materials like fish skin, paper, elm bark, nettle, banana leaf fiber, hemp, wisteria, deerskin, cotton, silk, and wool. It will showcase rare and exceptional examples of robes, coats, jackets, vests, banners, rugs, and mats, made between around 1750 and 1930, including the royal dress of subtropical Okinawa, ceremonial robes of the Ainu from northern Japan and the Russian Far East, and folk traditions from throughout Japan.” – museum website

Eighteenth century Attush robe. Ainu People, Hokkaido, Japan, or Sakhalin, Siberia

The attush (elm bark) Ainu robe shown above will clearly be one of the highlights of the exhibition. It is fascinating to note the variety of talismanic pendants decorating this robe. These are made of a variety of materials including sturgeon scales, shells, bird bones and silk tassels.

On Sunday June 26 Tom will be giving a talk entitled Accounting for Taste: On the Collecting of Textiles from Japan. This is an in person talk and will take place at 14:00 CDT. Click here for tickets.

Don’t forget to let me know about textile events you hear of so I can share the information on here!

Textile events coming shortly….

Many OATG members will know of Karun Thakar’s amazing collection of textiles, from Asafo flags to embroidered shawls from the Punjab and much, much more. On Wednesday 20 April the Textile Museum in Washington DC will host an online conversation between Karun and curator Lee Talbot. The museum’s current exhibition, Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design, features textiles from Karun’s collection alongside some from the museum.

Courtesy of Karun Collection

“After outlining some of the challenges in planning a large-scale exhibition during the pandemic, they will take a closer look at some textiles currently on view, discussing aspects of their acquisition, research and conservation. Additional topics will include Thakar’s collecting in other areas, as well as the recently established Karun Thakar Fund at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which offers scholarships for early career researchers and practitioners in the field of Asian and African textiles.” – Museum website

Choga embroidered with figurative scenes (detail), Kashmir, c. 1830. Karun Thakar Collection, London.

This free Zoom event starts at 12:00 EDT, which is 17:00 BST. You can find out more and register for it here. Discover more about the Karun Thakar Fund on the website of the V&A here.

A short video overview of the exhibition, presented by Lori Kartchner, Curator of Education at the Textile Museum is now available to view here.

Video of exhibition

A reminder that 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 later 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.

Members may also be interested to learn more about an exhibition currently on at the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich. Hidden Complexities: Unfolding Miao Women’s Textile Skills runs until January 2023.

“Since the 16th century CE, the manifold textile varieties in the South-Western Chinese mountain regions has received unwavering interest from all over China – texts, drawings and, much later, political posters and photography have all engaged with Miao clothing.

This exhibition attempts to unlock the complexity of the textile knowledge and skill of Miao women’s work through an examination of Karola Kauffmann’s collection. It highlights questions about the proximity or distance of the self-presentation and representation of ethnic diversity in the context of social change and cultural-political tensions.” – Museum website

Indigo dyed cotton jacket. The back is decorated with silk felt appliqués, themselves embroidered with coloured silk. Such jackets characterise a Miao group living in Baibei village in the southeast of Guizhou province. The style is called the “hundred-bird style”. EMZ inv. no. 33523. Photograph: Kathrin Leuenberger 2021, Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich.

I particularly enjoyed reading this insight into how the exhibition is laid out and could really imagine myself entering the ‘indigo box’.

Thomas Murray recently gave a very well-received lecture for the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California. His subject was 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 TMA/SC have arranged for two Zoom presentations for those living further afield who missed out on this lecture. The first is intended for participants living in Southeast Asia and Australasia and starts at 19:00 PDT on Friday 22 April. As an example this is 09:00 on Saturday morning for those in Jakarta and Bangkok. 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.

Next an event that those in the UK won’t want to miss! It’s the Textile Society’s annual Antique and Vintage Textile Fair in Manchester next 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.

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.

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

“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 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.

More textile events in January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This exhibition runs from 22 January to 6 June 2022.

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

Can’t wait for my copy to arrive!

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Asian textile events in November

The autumn edition of our journal Asian Textiles has now been delivered to most members. Fittingly for this time of year there is a focus on scarves, with a short article on the wedding scarves of the Chuvash by Natalia Yurievna Kashpar.

There is also a much longer one on the kelaghayi of Azerbaijan by Maria Wronska-Friend. If you have been following us for a while you may remember I devoted an entire blog to these scarves in 2019. Michael Heppell has also written on Lampung, Tampan and Ibanic speakers, spurred on by an article by Georges Breguet in the previous edition.

Kantha embroidered textile (detail), India, Bengal, late 19th/early 20th century. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-1907. Photo by Bruce M. White Photography.

The second annual Cotsen Textile Traces Global Roundtable takes place online on Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 November and the subject this year is From India to the World. The first day is devoted to Embroidered Textiles, and the second to Painted and Printed Textiles. Each day there will be three panels, and they feature some stellar speakers including Sarah Fee, Ruth Barnes, Monisha Ahmed and Rosemary Crill. These events begin at 09:00 EST, which is 14:00 GMT. This means that OATG members with stamina can ‘attend’ these sessions before our own talk in the evening.

You can read full details of the programme, including abstracts, here and register for it here.

4-panel screen with embroidered leaves on branch in the fall with two sparrows

A reminder that the next OATG event will be on Thursday 18 November.  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 at 18:30 GMT and is free for OATG members. There is a small (£3) charge for non-members. Full details and registration here.

Thursday 18 November is certainly a busy day for textile lovers, as the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore is also holding an online event. Professor Giorgio Riello of the University of Warwick is the speaker and his subject is The Ambassador is Spoiling Us: Gifts and Material Diplomacy at the Courts of Siam and France at the End of the Seventeenth Century.

“In the pre-modern period (c. 1400-1800), gifts were at the core of the ceremonies that accompanied the formal reception of foreign ambassadors. Both in Asia and in Europe, the choreography of the reception of ambassadors was carefully staged. This was the case for the Eurasian ambassadorial exchange between the distant Kingdoms of Siam (Thailand) and France in the 1680s. The fame of this specific diplomatic cross-cultural episode is due to the quantities and value of the gifts presented by the Siamese ambassadors to the Court of France and viceversa by the French ambassadors sent to the court of Siam. This presentation argues that diplomacy should not be read only at the level of rulers, in this case between Phra Narai (r. 1656-88) and Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715). The examination of the gifts themselves shows a series of other actors, most notably the ambassadors, but also Jesuits, merchants and adventurers.” – ACM website

The talk begins at 11:00 UTC, which is 19:00 GMT. Full details, and a link to register, can be found here.

On Friday 19 November the Tang Center for Silk Road Studies at UC Berkeley will host a Zoom webinar. The speaker is Mariachiara Gasparini and her subject is Across the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau: Sino-Sogdian Textiles Beyond the Main Silk Routes.

“In the 6th century, the circulation of silk and embroidered textiles with zoomorphic motifs, often enclosed in pearl medallions, influenced Eurasian art. Although they have been often mistaken as ‘Sasanian,’ these textiles originated between Sogdiana and the western regions of China. However, only after the Islamization of Central Asia in the 8th century did these weavings evolve into new structures, and floral motifs were widely used to embellish or substitute the initial pearl medallions. By examining a group of 8th-9th-century weavings, which have recently appeared on the art market, in this paper, I discuss differences and variations between early and later structures and iconographic motifs. I argue that the Sogdian and Turko-Mongol trade might have also occurred beyond the main Silk Routes across the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau.” – Mariachiara Gasparini

This talk begins at 14:00 PST, which is 22:00 GMT and registration is required.