Article: Portable Storage Bags

Recently I posted about the exhibition on portable storage bags at the Metropolitan Museum in New York – ending 7 June 2018. Even if you can’t make it to the exhibition I highly recommend looking at their website, which has a wealth of information about these bags – how they are used, who made them, the techniques they used etc.

The different types of bags are examined, with examples of their use given. Specific bags were used to store salt, flour, bedding, spindles etc.

The section on the tribes covers the Qashqai, the Shahsevan and the Bakhtiari. It includes a fascinating short documentary about the Bakhtiari, filmed in 1925.

Slit-tapestry rugs from Turkey, called kilims, were woven in a wide range of sizes and formats for a wide variety of uses. Rugs associated with the market town of Reyhanlı, on the Turkish-Syrian border, were produced by nomad groups who moved to upland Taurus mountain pastures in the summer, returning to the Mediterranean littoral during winter months.

Besides the characteristic technique of mainly slit-tapestry (kilim), the splendid double saddlebags from Reyhanlı (called heybe in Turkish) sometimes include metallic-wrapped cotton threads, which the nomadic weavers could not produce themselves but had to acquire, probably in exchange for sheep or goat milk, cheese, or other products from their animals.

One such saddlebag is examined in greater detail by Associate Research Scientist Federico Caro, with particular attention being paid to the use of copper metallic thread that resembled gold.

In another section of the website conservators Julia Carlson and Yael Rosenfield examine the sumak technique, with lots of excellent detailed photographs.

It’s rare to see so much excellent background information for an exhibition – hope you enjoy reading it.

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Exhibition: Portable Storage: Tribal Weavings from the Collection of William and Inger Ginsberg

Exhibition dates: 25 September 2017 – 7 May 2018, New York

 

Woven bags carried by nomads in the Middle East were designed to contain all of the necessities of life, from bedding to salt. This exhibition highlights 19 distinctly patterned examples of woven bags from nomadic cultures in Iran, Turkey, and the Caucasus, along with one striking pile-woven saddle cover. Featuring geometric patterns as well as stylised floral and animal motifs, these textiles are both utilitarian and expressive of a highly sophisticated tribal aesthetic.  The exhibition also includes an Islamic painting from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection that illustrates bags and trappings in use in traditional society.

For more information visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum

Exhibition: Japanese Bamboo Art – The Abbey Collection

Exhibition dates: 13 June 2017 – 4 February 2018

Featuring works of Japanese bamboo art dating from the late nineteenth century to the present the period when basketry in Japan became recognised as an art form that transcends ‘craft’ this loan exhibition showcases more than 80 bamboo baskets and sculptures created by accomplished artists, including all six masters who have received the designation ‘Living National Treasure’. Highlighting key stages in the modern history of Japanese bamboo art, the exhibition is drawn from the Abbey Collection, one of the finest private collections of Japanese baskets and bamboo sculpture; most of the works have never before been presented in public.

More than 70 of these remarkable objects promised gifts to The Metropolitan Museum from long-time New York residents Diane and Arthur Abbey will become part of the museum’s collection, bringing added depth to its already incomparable holdings in Asian art and allowing the museum to tell the modern history of Japanese basketry from the 1880s through the present. Complementing the bamboo works from the Abbey Collection is a lavish selection of hanging scroll and screen paintings and decorative arts, all from The Met’s holdings, that explores the bamboo motif along with related themes such as ikebana (flower arranging) and the tea ceremony.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

Exhibition: Court and Cosmos – The Great Age of the Seljuqs

Met Museum - Court and Cosmos

Exhibition dates: 27 April – 24 July 2016

One of the most productive periods in the history of the region from Iran to Anatolia (eastern Turkey) corresponds to the rule of the Seljuqs and their immediate successors, from 1038 to 1307. The Seljuqs were a Turkic dynasty of Central Asian nomadic origin that established a vast, but relatively short-lived empire in West Asia (present-day Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey). Under Seljuq rule, the exchange and synthesis of diverse traditions – including Turkmen, Perso-Arabo-Islamic, Byzantine, Armenian, Crusader, and other Christian cultures – accompanied economic prosperity, advances in science and technology, and a great flowering of culture within the realm. Opening on 27 April at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the landmark international loan exhibition ‘Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs’ will feature spectacular works of art created from the eleventh through to the thirteenth century from Turkmenistan to the Mediterranean.

Some 270 objects – including ceramics, glass, stucco, works on paper, woodwork, textiles and metalwork – from American, European and Middle Eastern public and private collections will be shown. Many of the institutions have never lent works from their collections before. Among the highlights will be a dozen important loans from Turkmenistan – the exhibition marks the first time that Turkmenistan as an independent country has permitted an extended loan of a group of objects to a museum in the United States.

 

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

Exhibition: Celebrating the Arts of Japan – The Mary Griggs Burke Collection

Met Museum - Celebrating the Arts of Japan

Exhibition dates: 20 October 2015 – 22 January 2017

A spectacular array of Japanese works of art are currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a special exhibition featuring works drawn from the recent landmark gift to the museum by the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation. ‘Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection’ is a tribute to the discerning New York City collector who built what is widely regarded as the finest and most encompassing private collection outside Japan. The works on view include masterpieces – paintings, sculpture, ceramics, calligraphy, lacquerware and more – dating from the tenth to the twentieth century. Among the highlights are a powerful representation of the Buddhist deity Fudō Myōō from the studio of the celebrated sculptor Kaikei (active 1185–1223), a sumptuous set of early seventeenth-century screens showing Uji Bridge in Kyoto, and Itō Jakuchū’s (1716–1800) tour-de-force ink painting of plum blossoms in full bloom illuminated by moonlight. Organised by theme and presented in two sequential rotations (with the changeover taking place in late May 2016), the exhibition will reveal, through a single, distinguished collection, the full range of topics, techniques and styles that are distinctive to Japanese art.

Beginning in the 1960s, over the course of nearly 50 years, Mary Griggs Burke (1916–2012) assembled an unparalleled art collection. It was exhibited by the Tokyo National Museum in 1985, the first ever Japanese art collection from abroad to be shown there. The themes selected for the current exhibition, including numerous works added to the collection since the Bridge of Dreams exhibition at the Met in 2000, reflect Mrs Burke’s own collecting interests.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

Exhibition: The Secret Life of Textiles – Plant Fibers

Met Museum - Secret Life of Textiles - Plant Fibres

Exhibition dates: 7 March – 31 July 2016

Fibres are the most important components of a textile. Everything related to the production of a textile – yarns, dyes, weaving and patterns – begins with and is determined by the type and quality of the fibres. At the Metropolitan, the museum’s comprehensive textile collection, the conservators’ expertise and state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation come together to make possible a detailed examination of fibre characteristics and technology through a series of three installations that are focused on plant fibres, animal fibres and synthetic fibers.

This first installation in the series will reveal the technological transformation and beauty of the most important plant fibers – linen, hemp, ramie and cotton – used by various cultures around the world in North Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas, from the Dynastic period of Egypt to the present day.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

Exhibition: Chinese Textiles – Ten Centuries of Masterpieces from the Met Collection

Met Museum - Chinese Textiles from the Met

Exhibition dates: 15 August 2015 – 19 November 2016

This installation, which explores the cultural importance of silk in China, shows the most important and unusual textiles from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection. In addition to three rare pieces dating from the Tang dynasty (618–906), when China served as a cultural hub linking Korea and Japan to Central and West Asia, and, ultimately to the Mediterranean world, the exhibition also includes eleventh- and twelfth-century tapestries from Central Asia, as well as contemporaneous Chinese examples of this technique.

Spectacular embroideries – including an imperial fourteenth-century canopy decorated with phoenixes and flowers, and a monumental late seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century panel showing phoenixes in a garden – are also on view, together with theatrical garments, court costumes and early examples of badges worn at court to designate rank.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.