Exhibition: REMINDER – Embroidered Visions – Photographs of Central Asia and the Middle East by Sheila Paine

pitt-rivers-embroidered-visions

Exhibition dates: 1 November 2016 – 30 April 2017

This is a reminder that this exhibition will be open only until the end of this month, and also that a book of the same name is now available (since 25 January), priced at £10. You can find it in the PRM shop or you can purchase it online here.

This exhibition presents a selection of photographs taken by textile expert Sheila Paine during her travels in Central Asia and the Middle East in the late 1980s and through the 1990s. The images have been chosen both to demonstrate the extent of Paine’s travelling, which has culminated in books on embroidery and other subjects, and to reveal her eye for colours and textures also evident elsewhere in her research. Photographs of Central Asia were taken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and the trading city of Kashgar in western China. Scenes from the Middle East include Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and, in particular, Yemen. A video screen also shows highlights of a travel documentary presented by Sheila Paine in Yemen, originally broadcast in 1996.

The photographs have been taken from assorted vantage points, sometimes from the top of a bus while travelling between towns, at other times as more intimate portraits of people encountered. Clothing depicted ranges from plain felted cloaks to elaborately embroidered Turkmen tunics. Other photographs show the material processes behind different types of textile, from spinning wool and winding silver thread, to the manufacture of fur hats and pompom horse-trappings.

The social significance of embroidery has been central to Sheila Paine’s research. This has included seeking out and photographing makers, tracking how textiles and designs migrate across distances, and understanding the meaning, especially protective amuletic functions, applied to many of the motifs. Her published travel trilogy – comprising The Afghan Amulet (1994), The Golden Horde (1997) and The Linen Goddess (2003) – was written about the journeys featured in this exhibition’s photographs, and documents her search for the origins of a triangular amuletic motif that takes her from the Hindu Kush to North Africa. Her interest in the power of such symbols and wearable talismans also resulted in the 2004 book Amulets: A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic. Travelling extensively since the mid-1980s, Paine acquired numerous textiles and amulets in the course of this work, many of which are now held in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, alongside her collection of over three thousand photographs generously donated since 2012.

For more information, visit the website of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

Exhibition: Embroidered Visions – Photographs of Central Asia and the Middle East by Sheila Paine

pitt-rivers-embroidered-visions

Exhibition dates: 1 November 2016 – 30 April 2017

This exhibition presents a selection of photographs taken by textile expert Sheila Paine during her travels in Central Asia and the Middle East in the late 1980s and through the 1990s. The images have been chosen both to demonstrate the extent of Paine’s travelling, which has culminated in books on embroidery and other subjects, and to reveal her eye for colours and textures also evident elsewhere in her research. Photographs of Central Asia were taken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and the trading city of Kashgar in western China. Scenes from the Middle East include Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and, in particular, Yemen. A video screen also shows highlights of a travel documentary presented by Sheila Paine in Yemen, originally broadcast in 1996.

The photographs have been taken from assorted vantage points, sometimes from the top of a bus while travelling between towns, at other times as more intimate portraits of people encountered. Clothing depicted ranges from plain felted cloaks to elaborately embroidered Turkmen tunics. Other photographs show the material processes behind different types of textile, from spinning wool and winding silver thread, to the manufacture of fur hats and pompom horse-trappings.

The social significance of embroidery has been central to Sheila Paine’s research. This has included seeking out and photographing makers, tracking how textiles and designs migrate across distances, and understanding the meaning, especially protective amuletic functions, applied to many of the motifs. Her published travel trilogy – comprising The Afghan Amulet (1994), The Golden Horde (1997) and The Linen Goddess (2003) – was written about the journeys featured in this exhibition’s photographs, and documents her search for the origins of a triangular amuletic motif that takes her from the Hindu Kush to North Africa. Her interest in the power of such symbols and wearable talismans also resulted in the 2004 book Amulets: A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic. Travelling extensively since the mid-1980s, Paine acquired numerous textiles and amulets in the course of this work, many of which are now held in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, alongside her collection of over three thousand photographs generously donated since 2012.

For more information, visit the website of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

Exhibition: Embroidered Tales and Woven Dreams

brunei-gallery-embroidered-tales-and-woven-dreams

Exhibition dates: 19 January – 25 March 2017

The exhibition Embroidered Tales and Woven Dreams is a colour-coded social history of the vast and geographically varied landscape known as the Silk Road (or originally the ‘Seidenstrasse’, a name given to this road by the German explorer Richthofen), which stretches from Central Asia to Western Europe. Its regional history will be explored through the embroidered tales and woven textiles of the communities who lived north and south of this ancient trade corridor across Asia.

The textiles on display have recorded a wonderful vernacular art, as embroidered tales, told by women storytellers, who were guardians of their customs and traditions for their individual tribes, castes and communities.

This exhibition, with a series of related lectures by internationally renowned lecturers, will examine the immensely rich, culturally fascinating identity of the Central Asian, Middle Eastern and South Asian landscapes, through the heritage of their embroidered textiles and costumes. It is a rich seam of historical material, meticulously embroidered and woven.

While the Silk Road, as a concept, refers to an area that underwent a thousand years of turbulent history, the physical links were comprised of smaller land routes, often through difficult terrain, and passable only by specialised trade caravans.

The northern ‘–stans’ of the Uzbeks, Kyrghiz, Tajiks, Turcoman and Khazaks exchanged goods with distant neighbours in Afghanistan and northern India, and, depending upon varying political arrangements, the even more distant powers of South Asia, Persia, Byzantium, Russia and China.

The exhibition will briefly examine the political upheavals that destroyed the lives of these communities and their nomadic, semi-nomadic and settled lifestyles.

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

Event: Visit to ‘Life and Sole – Footwear from the Islamic World’ at the British Museum, with Curator Fahmida Suleman and Conservator Barbara Wills

British Museum - Life and Sole, Footwear from the Islamic World

Men’s leather shoes embroidered with gold thread. Pakistan, 1900–1930s. As1987,06.2.a-b. Copyright British Museum.

Event date: Wednesday 27 April 2016, 1.30–2.30pm

Join us for a privileged tour of this wonderful exhibition of around 25 pairs of shoes, slippers, sandals, clogs and boots from North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, Central Asia and South Asia, that are being shown together for the first time.

Fahmida Suleman is Phyllis Bishop curator for the Modern Middle East and is responsible for the museum’s outstanding collection of ethnographic objects and textiles from the Middle East and Central Asia. She also has historic links with Oxford having obtained her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Islamic Art and Archaeology from the University of Oxford.

Barbara Wills is Conservator of Organic Artefacts and worked on items displayed in this exhibition. Barbara works on a wide range of organic materials and specialises in the conservation of leather, basketry materials and Ancient Egyptian objects.

Meet at 1.20pm inside the entrance of the John Addis Gallery of the Islamic World (Room 34), British Museum. Tour to begin at 1.30pm. There will be time to visit other exhibits and the café afterwards.

OATG members free, non-members £3. Coat check available at the museum for £1.50 per item. The exhibition is free and continues until 15 May 2016.

Please RVSP to oatg.events@gmail.com so we have an idea of numbers attending in advance.

Exhibition: Life and Sole – Footwear from the Islamic World

British Museum - Life and Sole, Footwear from the Islamic World

Exhibition dates: 14 November 2015 – 15 May 2016

Some twenty-five pairs of shoes, slippers, sandals, clogs and boots from North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, Central Asia and South Asia are being shown together for the first time. Dating from 1800 onwards, they demonstrate the important role footwear has always played in the social and cultural life of people living in these regions. The display presents a variety of regional styles, materials, embellishments and shoe manufacturing traditions. It examines shoes as status symbols, class indicators and diplomatic gifts.

The display includes shoes for bathing rituals, children, specific vocations, extreme environments and ceremonial occasions. A pair of richly embroidered red leather slippers (tarkasin), made in Ghadamis, Libya, would have formed an important part of a bride’s wedding trousseau. Luxuriant stilted bath clogs (qabqab) from nineteenth-century Ottoman Turkey, over ten inches high, would have been worn by an urban, upper-class woman. A pair of qabqab made in 2014 by Palestinian fashion designer Omar Joseph Nasser-Khoury uses the form of these iconic sandals to comment on contemporary Middle Eastern politics. Delicately patterned men’s leather loafers from early twentieth-century Pakistan (pictured above) combine Western footwear styles with South Asian opulence.

Together, these shoes express identities, beliefs, traditions and lifestyles of people from across the Islamic world. They represent the significance of footwear in Islamic social and cultural life and the impact of international trade and politics on footwear fashions.

For more information, visit the website of the British Museum, London.