Japanese kimonos, Uzbek and Jain textiles

Apologies to those who missed these blogs – I have been travelling in India for several weeks and just didn’t have the time to blog. Hopefully I can manage a couple before Christmas!

Filling shuttles at a rural weaving village in Bihar State

******************************

A new exhibition opened yesterday at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles. Visualizing Devotion: Jain Embroidered Shrine Hangings runs until 26 March 2023 and features devotional textiles from the collection of Ronald and Maxine Linde. These cloths are known as chhoda and tend to be of velvet or sateen, heavily embroidered with religious themes using gold or silver thread.

******************************

Textile lovers able to visit Paris in the next few months are in for a real treat!

Tuesday 22 November 2022 sees the opening of the Kimono exhibition at the Musée du quai Branly. This exhibition of nearly 200 kimonos was designed by the V&A in London, and will run until 28 May 2023.

“At the beginning of the Edo era (1603-1868), it became the traditional garment par excellence, worn by all Japanese, regardless of social status or gender. A golden age that saw the extraordinary development of its production and the birh of a fashion culture, thanks to the infatuation of the entertainment world. Celebrities and trendsetters of the time – kabuki actors in particular – became the first Japanese fashion icons.

Although it timidly reached European shores at the end of the 17th century, it was in the 1850s, with the opening of Japan to foreign trade, that the kimono was exported to the West, fascinated by its exotic character. The enthusiasm generated by its shape and fabrics profoundly and radically transformed fashion on the continent a few decades later. ” – museum website

******************************

On Wednesday 23 November the Louvre is host to The Splendours of Uzbekistan’s Oases, which runs until 6 March 2023. It has been jointly organised with the Art and Culture Development Foundation of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

“A large selection of these masterworks will leave Uzbekistan for the first time and undergo special conservation treatment for the exhibition, including monumental wall paintings from the Ambassadors’ Hall in Samarkand and its surroundings, the pages of one of the oldest monumental Korans from the early days of Islam from Katta Langar, in Sogdiana, and other treasures in gold from Bactria (Dalverzin Tepe), silver, silk, and fine ceramics. The exhibition also showcases several masterpieces from the famous 16th-century miniature paintings of the School of Bukhara.” – museum website

******************************

The same day sees the opening of another exhibition dedicated to Uzbekistan, this time at the Arab World Institute. On the roads of Samarkand: Wonders of silk and gold has also been organised with the help of the same Foundation and will run until 4 June 2023.

“Sumptuous chapan coats and gold-embroidered accessories from the Emir’s court, painted wooden saddles, silver horse harnesses set with turquoises, precious Suzanis embroidered hangings, carpets, silk ikats, jewellery and costumes from the nomadic culture as well as about fifteen orientalist paintiings” will all be on display.


Chapan, 1900-1904, Bukhara. Tashkent, State museum of arts of Uzbekistan (© The Foundation for the development of art and culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan © Laziz Hamani

Upcoming fairs and talks

Tribal Art London – London’s leading Ethnographic Fair – opened today. Over twenty exhibitors are taking part, including OATG members Cordelia Donohoe and Joss Graham. The venue is the Mall Galleries near St James’s Park and tickets are free.

A vibrant nineteenth century Tashkent Paliak suzani

It was supposed to run until 18 September, but will now close at 17:00 on 17 September due to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Click here for more details.

******************************

A reminder of 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

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

******************************

The speaker for our next OATG talk is Fiona Kerlogue and her subject is Translating textiles: The Indonesian collections of Josef Šrogl.

“Museum collections in Europe contain large numbers of textiles brought back from various parts of Asia by travellers and European overseas residents, who collected them in a variety of circumstances, not often recorded in the museum documentation. Family correspondence held in the Náprstek Museum, [National Museum], Prague, from one such collector, Josef Srogl, who was collecting in the Dutch East Indies between 1895 and 1922, was passed to the museum at the same time as much of his collection, providing insights into the journey through which the textiles passed. Many of the perspectives of the collector, information about the available sources, insights into his criteria for selection and his thoughts about the intended uses for the textiles are revealed.”

Náprstek Museum collection

This Zoom talk will take place on Thursday 29 September at 18:30 BST. It is free for OATG members and there is a small charge for non-members. You can find more details and register for it here.

******************************

The next World Textile Day event is on Saturday 1 October at Saltford near Bristol. Entry to the exhibition and sale is free, but there is a small charge for attendance at the talks – two on sashiko and one on textile trappings.

These events are always very busy, so you are advised to get there early! Full details of the location and facilities, plus a list of vendors can be found here.

******************************

On Thursday 6 October we have the long-awaited talk by Maria Wronska-Friend, which was originally scheduled for April 2020. Maria is currently based in Australia, and we are delighted to be welcoming her to Oxford for this in-person talk. Her subject is Kimono and Sarong: Four centuries of Japanese and Indonesian textile connections.

“The exchange of textiles between Japan and Indonesia was initiated probably in the 17th century by the Dutch traders who, until 1868, had a monopoly in the trade with Japan. As the trade goods used to be dispatched from the ports of Java, at times textiles destined for Indonesian markets were sent to Japan where they became highly treasured goods, incorporated into local dress or used in the tea ceremony. At the same time, at least from the beginning of the 19th century, residents of Java highly treasured Japanese katagami fabrics brought to Batavia as a return cargo from Nagasaki.”

Hand-drawn batik on silk made in 2018 in Yogyakarta, Central Java, for the Japanese market. Private collection

The location for this talk, which begins at 18:30 BST, is the Pauling Centre on Banbury Road, Oxford. It is free for OATG members and there is a small charge for non-members. You can find more details and register for it here.

******************************

Events: Upcoming textile events

Several new talks and exhibitions coming soon….

Portrait of John Frederick Lewis. The cloth he is wearing features in the exhibition along with this portrait.

A new exhibition Inspired by the east: how the Islamic world influenced western art opened yesterday at the British Museum. It has been organised in conjunction with  the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, with the whole exhibition moving there in June 2020.

“The show takes a deeper look at the art movement of ‘Orientalism’ – specifically the way in which North Africa and the Middle East were represented as lands of beauty and intrigue, especially in European and North American art. Often blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, Orientalist art reached its heyday in the mid-1800s, as Europeans and North Americans were looking overseas to fundamentally learn more about other cultures, but its popularity had faded by the 1940s with the decline of the British Empire.” British Museum website.

Julia Tugwell, co-curator Middle East, has written an excellent blog on the subject here.

Location: Room 35, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG. 10 October 2019 – 26 January 2020.

 

Dr Fiona Kerlogue will give a lecture to the Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) in London on 16 October on the subject of Malay Gold Thread Embroidery from Jambi on Sumatra. Focussing on a collection at the Horniman Museum in London Dr Kerlogue will “explore the historical evidence for the influence of trade connections and the colonial presence on the materials and style of gold thread embroidery in Malay Sumatra, and explain the contexts in which the embroidered pieces were used.” ORTS website.

Location: St James Piccadilly Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL 18:00

 

Andrea Aranow will be lecturing on Japanese Textiles in Philadelphia on 20 October. She will be looking at how patterned kimono cloth is produced from a variety of fibres including cotton silk and bast fibres. With over 200 examples from her collection available to view this should be a very enlightening session. Full details can be found here.

Location: Rikumo, 1216 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19107 14:00-15:30

On Saturday 26 October Dr Elena Phipps will give a presentation to the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMA/SC) entitled Sacred Surfaces: Carpets, Coverings and Mesas in the Colonial Andes. 

“Textiles formed the surfaces of Colonial life in the Andes, and especially those associated with ritual and faith relating to the sacred realms of Christian as well as indigenous religious contexts. Carpets—woven of knotted pile or flatwoven tapestry– were not in themselves a form used in the region prior to the Spanish arrival. But these were introduced very early on in the 16th century by the Spanish who brought with them examples produced and influenced by Hispano-mooresque and Middle Eastern traditions. Andean weavers adapted to the form and techniques of their production, creating remarkable examples that manifest the complex interchange of the period.” TMA/SC Newsletter

Location: Luther Hall, Lower Level St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, 3590 Grand View Blvd. Los Angeles. 26 October 09:30 refreshments, 10:00 programme. Open to all with no reservations required.

Back in the UK Stefano Ionescu will deliver the annual May Beattie lecture at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford on 30 October. The title of the lecture is Anatolian Rugs in Transylvanian Churches: In the Footsteps of May Hamilton Beattie, and it is co-sponsored by Hali.

Location: Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH 17;00-18:00 followed by a reception. Please note – this talk is free but booking by 23 October is essential.

An exciting new exhibition has opened recently at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. Entitled East Jazz it presents “more than 30 unique Central Asian robes and fabrics from the collection of Alexander Klyachin and more than two dozen canvases of post-war abstract painting, collected by Swiss collector Jean Claude Gandyur. Having expanded and supplemented the exposition with works from the collections of the Pushkin Museum to them. A.S. Pushkin and the Paris Pompidou Center – Museum of Modern Art – Center for Industrial Design, exhibition curators will talk about the interaction of eastern and western cultures.”

Location: The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Ulitsa Volkhonka, 12, Moscow, Russia, 119019. 01 October – 15 November 2019

Looking ahead, next year the V&A will have a major exhibition on Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk tickets for which have now gone on sale. “This exhibition will present the kimono as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion, revealing the sartorial, aesthetic and social significance of the garment from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and the rest of the world.” (V&A website). Full details can be found here.

Location: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL. Opens 29 February 2020.

 

************************************

 


 

Events: Upcoming textile events

Several new talks and exhibitions coming soon….

Chinese cloth banknote

A reminder that this Thursday Dr Paul Bevan will talk about Chinese Cloth Banknotes to the Oxford Asian Textile Group. This event is open to the public. Click here for further details.

Location: The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6QS. 18:00 – 20:00.

©Jenny Balfour-Paul

Also on Thursday, but this time in the US, Jenny Balfour-Paul will be lecturing on Indigo and the Orient: The Story of the Blues at Yale University Art Gallery. In her talk Jenny will look at ” this fascinating dyestuff, focusing on its past and present use in Asia, particularly among the ethnic minorities of Southwest China.” Full details can be found here.

Location: Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel Street (at York Street) New Haven, Connecticut. 17:30 – open to the general public.

Woman’s funeral tunic and headscarf

The reason for this particular emphasis is that this lecture is being held in conjunction with the exhibition Ceremonial Dress from Southwest China: The Ann B. Goodman Collection. This exhibition, which was co-curated by OATG founder Ruth Barnes, draws on the ceremonial clothing of communities from Guizhou, Sichuan, Hunan, Yunnan, and other provinces of southwestern China. It includes fifteen outfits which use a variety of techniques such as batik, embroidery, and appliqué. Silver jewellery is also featured. For more details, and images of several items from the exhibition,  go to the website of the Yale University Art Gallery.

Exhibition dates: September 6 2019 – January 5 2020.

Jenny will also be giving another talk on indigo, but with a different theme, in New York next week. Entitled Indigo Trail: From Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans! this will clearly be a wide-ranging lecture from an expert in the field. Details of this event, which is open to the public, can be found here.

Location: The Explorers Club, 46 East 70th Street, New York City, NY 10021, United States. October 1, 18:30.

©Karun Thakar Collection

Back in the UK the Brunei Gallery at SOAS will be hosting an exhibition, supported by HALI, of African textiles from the collection of Karun Thakar. With more than 150 exhibits from a wide geographical area this “will examine the links between west and north African textile traditions through a selection of important and rare examples of textile art, being shown here for the first time.” Details are on the SOAS website here.

Location: SOAS University of London 10 Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG. October 11 – December 14 2019.

October has been designated Textile Month in Portland, Oregon, with a huge listing of events taking place. These include talks, exhibitions, and hands-on workshops. One that stood out for me was Symbolism and Significance: The Evolution of the Kimono by Andrea Aranow who will be showing several kimonos from her extensive collection on October 5 – click here for more detail.

I was also intrigued by the work Emily Miller is doing in the Ghost Net Landscape exhibition which runs from 7-31 October. Details are here.

 

************************************

 


 

Video: Rare Archival Footage of Early Twentieth Century Tokyo

EYE film museum have made this wonderful short film of life in Japan at the beginning of the twentieth century available to view on Youtube. The first section was filmed in 1913, and the second in 1915.  Both show many people in traditional costumes such as kimonos, and some with elaborate hairstyles. The ball control skills displayed by the young girls are particularly impressive!

The video can be viewed here

****************************************************************

 

Event: Kimonos for Foreigners – issues of cross-cultural appropriation and appreciation of the kimonos made for the western market

 

Event date: Tuesday 2 October 2018, 16:15 – 18:00.

In the late nineteenth century, whilst Japanese goods were becoming more prevalent throughout Europe and America, kimonos, considered as “the heart of Japanese culture,” were, too, widely available to shoppers in the West. “Kimonos for Foreigners” were kimonos designed specifically for the western wearer to enjoy as a tea gown, dressing gown, or as a costume for the theatre performance or fancy balls. This talk by Allie Yamaguchi will trace the ways in which these export kimonos were very different in design and shape from the original kimono while introducing some of the surviving “Kimonos for Foreigners.”

The talk will be preceded by a viewing of related material from the Ashmolean Museum collection selected by the OATG chairman Aimée Payton and the curator for Japanese Art at the Ashmolean, Oxford, Dr Clare Pollard.

Location: Ashmolean Museum Jameel Centre Study Room 1 (viewing) & Education Centre (Talk)

Click here for more details and how to book.

Exhibition: Artistry in Silk – The Kimono of Itchiku Kubota

Exhibition dates 7 February – 13 May 2018

Artistry in Silk celebrates the work of Itchiku Kubota (1917–2003), an innovative artist whose spectacular creations gave new meaning to the art of kimono. He brought new life to a 16th -century decorative technique known as tsujigahana, a combination of resist-dyeing techniques and ink-drawing that was once thought lost forever. In his subsequent production of sumptuously beautiful kimono that featured ‘Itchiku tsujigahana,’ the artist’s adaptation of this art form expanded contemporary ideas of surface design and assured Kubota a legacy as an out-of-the-ordinary artist and artisan whose work stimulated the mind and delighted the eye.

The exhibition presents 41 kimono designed and produced by the artist over three decades, from 1976 to his death in 2003.

There are some stunning high-resolution images on the museum website which load very slowly – your patience will be rewarded!

For more information visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto.

 

Event: Japan Textiles Workshop

Event date: Friday 1 September 2017, 23:30 pm

This event, to take place at Leeds Discovery Centre, is associated with the current exhibition Katagami – The craft of the Japanese Stencil exhibition at ULITA, which runs until 7 December 2017.

A chance to see and handle a broad range of Japanese textiles at the main store of Leeds Museums and Galleries, which has lent several pieces to the Katagami exhibition at ULITA. World Cultures Curator, Antonia Lovelace, will show examples of luxury and folk fabrics including fabulous embroidered wedding Uchikake, indigo tie-dyes, delicate appliqués and zori and geta footwear.

This event is free; however, there are limited places available. Please book by emailing discovery.centre@leeds.gov.uk, or by telephoning 0113 3782100.

Leeds Discovery Centre is on Carlisle Rd, south of the Royal Armouries. Visit leeds.gov.uk/discoverycentre for information on how to get there.

For more information, visit the website of ULITA (University of Leeds International Textile Archive).

Exhibition: Diligence and Elegance – The Nature of Japanese Textiles

Exhibition dates: 12 July 2017 – 21 January 2018

Diligence and Elegance: The Nature of Japanese Textiles presents over 50 textiles and garments from the Textile Museum of Canada’s collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century artifacts made in Japan for both everyday and occasional use. Luxurious silk and gold fabrics produced in Kyoto’s professional weaving workshops are juxtaposed with domestic indigo-dyed cotton, plant-fibre cloth, and silk kimonos crafted in an astonishing spectrum of time-honoured techniques – weaving, dyeing, hand painting, gold foil application and embroidery – that exemplify venerable social and cultural values. The exhibition focuses on the highly refined skills and materials by which textiles have been constructed and decorated over centuries, and on how diligence and ingenuity have shaped their timeless beauty. The persistence of traditions seen in such rigorously executed textiles has come to embody the heart of Japanese aesthetics. Every material, colour and technique has a story to tell.

Diligence and Elegance features the contemporary work of Hiroko Karuno and Keiko Shintani, two Japanese-Canadians whose consummate craftsmanship and philosophies are profoundly connected to the evolution of Japanese textile traditions of spinning, dyeing and weaving. Their internationally renowned artistic achievements are testimony to the ethics of labour associated with a lifelong investment of time, practice and precision; they position living traditions as opportunities for personal reflection and the acknowledgement of the significance of collective human accomplishments.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Exhibition: Katagami – The Craft of the Japanese Stencil

Exhibition dates: 11 April – 7 December 2017

This exhibition celebrates one of the ULITA archive’s major collections – ‘katagami’, Japanese resist dyeing stencils, which form a prominent part of ULITA’s Japanese collection. Through drilling, punching and cutting, a great variety of detailed and intricate designs were cut into mulberry paper. These stencils were used for dyeing designs onto clothing ranging from everyday workers’ garments to the finest silk kimonos.

This exhibition introduces the techniques of making and using the katagami, and explores the imagery used. Although produced simply as tools, in recent years, the katagami themselves have come to be appreciated as remarkable and beautiful objects in their own right. The designs on the stencils amount to more than decoration. Whether it be evoking a season, carrying wishes for longevity and good fortune or containing an entire folk story, every katagami has a story to tell about the fashion and culture of Japan at the time of its creation and use.

Katagami – The Craft of the Japanese Stencil features forty katagami, including stencils lent by the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDa),which informed the work of the British textile company the Silver Studio, whilst stencil-dyed clothing lent by Leeds Museums and Galleries shows the finishing effects. The exhibition has been realised with the support of MoDa as part of their Arts Council-funded project Katagami in Practice. The exhibition is written and curated by guest Curator Dr Alice Humphrey, who has worked with the katagami collections in both ULITA and MoDa.

For more information, visit the website of ULITA (University of Leeds International Textile Archive).