Savu, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, female pioneers and more…..

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Last month many members (and non-members) enjoyed a talk by Geneviève Duggan about weaving on the Indonesian island of Savu. Dr Duggan showed how women are the keepers of history in the form of oral genealogies, and how this information can help us to date their textiles.

© Textile Tours with David and Sue Richardson

She looked at historical written reports – starting with those of Captain James Cook and Joseph Banks in 1770 – in comparison to oral tradition. She also explained the binary structure of society on Savu and how men and women complement each other in their roles. She focused on the structure of the maternal line, and how weavers are able to exercise power via the gift of the textiles they produce. This was all accompanied by an excellent slide presentation.

Illustration of a chief’s house on Savu by Sydney Parkinson, who travelled there with James Cook in 1770

Dr Duggan ended her talk with a presentation on the need for a Weavers House, and explained how she was raising funds for this. Sadly in the last week Cyclone Seroja devastated large parts of eastern Indonesia, including the island of Savu and the weaving village with which Geneviève mainly works. Many houses were severely damaged and in some cases totally destroyed. The local government is hoping to get electricity working again in the village in August – yes that’s right – in August! This short video shows the current situation. It was very jerky so I have slowed it down to make it more watchable.

Their immediate needs are a generator, a couple of chainsaws, 1000 sheets of corrugated roofing and nails to secure them. If you would like to help with this please go to the Tracing Patterns Foundation website and ensure you click Meet the Makers – Tewuni Rai as the destination for your donation.

A recording of Dr Duggan’s talk is now available for members on the OATG website. Just scroll down to that talk and click on the link, then use the current password. This password can be found in the recent edition of Asian Textiles. If any member needs a reminder of it please contact one of the committee.

Recordings of all talks are now being added to the website so that members can view them at their leisure. This is yet another good reason to join the OATG. It doesn’t even matter if you are in a different time zone, you can still get to enjoy the lectures. In addition members receive our excellent journal Asian Studies three times per year.

Woman’s costume from Hama, Syria. © Iwatate Folk Textile Museum

A new exhibition has opened at the Iwatate Folk Textile Museum in Tokyo, entitled Textiles from Syria and its Neighboring Countries. Click through the images to see several lovely textiles from this area. This exhibition closes on 10 July 2021.

The current issue of Textiles Asia. © Bonnie Corwin

Those with a particular interest in the textiles of Syria should read the article Reflections on Late Ottoman Robes from the David and Elizabeth Reisbord Collection by Sandra S Williams in the current issue of Textiles Asia. The woman’s coat which graces the front cover dates to the late nineteenth to early twentieth century and was gifted to the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles by the Reisbords. Textiles Asia is published and edited by OATG member Bonnie Corwin. This particular issue also has a lengthy article on Uyghur Feltmaking in Xinjiang by Christine Martens.

I’m really looking forward to an online talk next Wednesday, 21 April, hosted by the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. The title of the talk is “There Were No Women”: The Pitt Rivers Museum and Britain’s first female anthropologists. The speaker, Frances Larson, is the author of a new book entitled Undreamed Shores – The hidden heroines of British anthropology. This is essentially a “group portrait of five anthropologists all linked by Oxford University’s diploma in anthropology, and by the Pitt Rivers Museum, in the years before, during and after the First World War.” – Boyd Tonkin. The women discussed in this book, and their areas of research, are Beatrice Blackwood (New Guinea), Katherine Routledge (Easter Island), Maria Czaplicka (Siberia), Barbara Freire-Marreco (New Mexico and Arizona) and Winifred Blackman (Egypt). An excellent review of Larson’s book by Boyd Tonkin appeared on The Arts Desk website last month and really inspired me to order it immediately. The talk takes place at 17:00 BST and you can register for it here.

Maria Czaplicka © Pitt Rivers Museum

For those interested in learning more about Maria Czaplicka and her work in Siberia I recommend this article and podcast from the Women in Oxford’s History series. “The First World War has often been presented as a period of stagnation in anthropology. However, for Maria it was a time of opportunity – she was made lecturer in ethnology for three years between 1916 and 1919, becoming the first appointed female lecturer in Oxford.” – Jaanika Vider.

Summer kimono for a woman, 1680-1705. Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert museum.

Don’t forget the next OATG talk takes place on Thursday 22 April when Anna Jackson of the V&A will give a presentation about their recent kimono exhibition. Click here to register.

Master craftsman Tarek El Safty at work. © Ola Seif

Seif El Rashidi, Director of the Barakat Trust, recently gave a talk on the subject From Craft To Art: Egyptian Appliqué-work in Light of Local and Global Changes. He is the co-author (with Sam Bowker) of The Tentmakers of Cairo: Egypt’s Medieval and Modern Applique Craft (AUC Press, 2018). This conversation with Dr Fahmida Suleman (Royal Ontario Museum) and Dr Heba Mostafa (University of Toronto) explored “the over one thousand-year-old tradition of textile appliqué work (khayamiyya) in Egypt, which continues to thrive in the ‘Street of the Tentmakers’ in the heart of historic Cairo’s bustling centre.” The good news is that if you missed this talk, which took place at the end of March, the  Islamic Art and Material Culture Collaborative have now made a full recording of it available here

Bou Oumlil, 2015

That event was part of their Crafting Conversations: Discourses on the Craft Heritage of the Islamic World – Past, Present and Future series. The next event in the series is entitled Deconstructing the Code: Craft Collaborations in Morocco and will take place on Saturday 24 April at 11:00 EST, which is 16:00 BST. French-Moroccan artist Sara Ouhaddou will be in conversation with Dr Mariam Rosser-Owen, Curator of the Middle East section at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This conversation will be co-hosted by the series organizer, Dr Fahmida Suleman, Curator, Islamic World, Royal Ontario Museum. Sara and Mariam will cover a variety of topics, including her past projects working with female weavers in the Atlas Mountains and with young female embroiderers in Tetouan. The event is free, but you do need to register for it.

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

A few events which have caught my eye…..

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

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

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

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

 

©Jenny Balfour-Paul

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Photo: Shinpei Shibuya

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

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



Image courtesy of Takashima Gallery

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

Details
APT on the hill | Takashima Gallery

 

©Cooper Hewitt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Article: Iwatate Folk Museum

Suzani. © Keisuke Fukamizu

This article, with text by Kosuke Ide and photos by Keisuke Fukamizu, looks at the Iwatate Folk Museum in Tokyo. The museum houses the collection of Hiroko Iwatate which consists of over eight thousand textiles from many different areas of Asia. Having studied dyeing techniques under two prominent artisans Hiroko then embarked on her travels, spending time in Peru, Mexico and Guatamala. However it was her first visit to India in 1970 that really seems to have sparked her imagination and set her off on a lifetime of collecting. Indeed half of the eight thousand pieces in the collection are from India.

This article showcases some wonderful textiles from an exhibition entitled Suzani Magnificent Embroidery (although most of the images are not of suzanis), which was held in 2015.

Labijar kilim. © Ryohei Sasatani.

The current exhibition is on Kilims – Daily Rugs from Afghanistan, and ends on 16 March 2019. Again the title of the exhibition is slightly misleading as you will see if you click through some of the images of the pieces featured in it. These include salt bags, tent bands, bed ornaments and coats.

Pashtoon child’s coat. © Ryohei Sasatani.

 

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