Textile talks and articles from around the world!

PLEASE NOTE Subscribers who usually read this blog via their email will need to click on the blue title to access it through our WordPress site instead to enable them to watch the video in this blog. 

I recently blogged about a lovely book for children, Mea and the Palm Flowers, produced by OATG member Sandra Sardjono of Tracing Patterns Foundation, with the help of Geneviève Duggan and Ice Tede Dara.

Young girl photographed in Pedero, the setting of the book. © David Richardson

Half of all sale proceeds will be donated to the weavers of the Tewuni Rai group, many of whom lost their homes during the devastating Cyclone Seroja last year. If you are a keen weaver, dyer or collector this would make a great gift for the children in your life.

I loved the enthusiasm of this young boy in his short video review of the book, which can be ordered here!

Video of book review

Sonja Mohr of the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Köln has just informed me of this very interesting article on Philippine piña textiles.

Scarf length, Philippines, mid 1800s, Rhode Island School of Design Museum.

Interrogating Translucence: Biological and Cultural Definitions of Piña is by Abi Lua, whose current thesis project explores Philippine piña textile connoisseurship and mentality. Here she discusses some of the difficulties in identifying piña, from both a biological and cultural point of view.

Sea snail and threads dyed with its ink. ©Selvedge

This article by Keith Recker for Selvedge also caught my attention. In it Keith looks at the colour purple and how it is produced by milking sea snails. The illustrations are excellent, and it was interesting to learn how the “community’s way of life was shaped around the making of purple, and the journey to the coast to dye yarns was a major event. A group of dyers would walk eight days to the coast. It was a real journey……. ‘involving several river crossings. The men would carry their own food, and when their tortillas, beans and coffee ran out, they would work in local farms to be reprovisioned. Once they reached their campsite on the coast, they’d stay for about three months before heading back to Pinotepa”. – Selvedge

Obtaining ink from the sac of the sea snail on Ternate. ©David and Sue Richardson
Sage green from the innards is used to dye these threads. © David and Sue Richardson

This reminded me of the marine dyes, which I have seen produced on the small island of Ternate in the Alor archipelago of Eastern Indonesia. There, two different colours – purple and green – are produced from the same creature. The purple comes from the ink sac and the green from the innards, with what remains going into the pot for supper.

A quick reminder that this is your last chance to sign up for a couple of talks taking place online tomorrow, Saturday 12 February. The first is on molas by Tom Hannaher, whose online presentation is entitled Painting With Scissors: Mola Art of the Kuna (Guna) Indians and takes place at 13:00 EST, which is 18:00 GMT. he second is on Uyghur feltmaking with Christine Martens.  It begins at 11:00 EST, which is 16:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

A weaver at work. ©Andean Textile Arts

The first of the 2022 series of Textile Talks, hosted by Andean Textile Arts, takes place next Tuesday 15 February, when the subject will be Textile Traditions of the Peruvian Highlands. Participants will learn “how Andean weavers use corn husks in their weaving, which natural dye was part of the Incan taxation system, why Andean brides often receive handwoven jakimas as wedding gifts, and so much more.” – ATA website

The talk also features a video, narrated by one of the presenters Jennifer Moore. The other presenter is Ercil Howard-Wroth. Click here for more information and to register. Please note this talk begins at 19:00 EST, which is midnight in the UK.

An akotifahana from the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum.

On Wednesday 16 February ORTS will host a Zoom presentation by Dr Sarah Fee of the Royal Ontario Museum entitled Born of the Indian Ocean:The Textile Arts of Madagascar. The ROM hold 54 Madagascan textiles in their collection, some of which date to the nineteenth century. It was interesting to read about the connection with Omani traders and Indian trade cloths, almost reminiscent of the Silk Road connections. 

There is a lot of excellent information, with very good images and some videos on the ROM website, which I strongly recommend to those interested in Malagasy textiles and culture.

The talk takes place at 18:00 GMT. Non-members wishing to attend should contact Dimity Spiller.

Chief or nobleman’s headdress (detail), Congo, 20th century. The Textile Museum Collection 1962.1.15. Textile Museum acquisition.

Sarah is going to be very busy as she also features in the next in the series of talks from the Textile Museum, centred on the latest edition of the Textile Journal, which she guest-edited.

Cécile Fromont of Yale University will be in discussion with Sarah about Kongo textiles, “which are celebrated as masterpieces of exquisite workmanship but garner limited attention in scholarship.”

This talk takes place on Wednesday 16 February at 12:00 EST, which is 17:00 GMT, and you can register for it here.

Hanbok, © Minjee Kim

On Thursday 17 February the Korea Society will host a live webcast by Dr Minjee Kim entitled Hanbok: A new lexicon of women’s fashion.

“In 2021, hanbok – the generic term referring to traditional style Korean clothing – was registered in the Oxford English Dictionary. In this comprehensive series of lectures, Dr. Minjee Kim, the preeminent scholar of Korean textile and fashion in the U.S., illustrates and elucidates hanbok in sartorial, socio-cultural, and historical contexts.

In the first lecture of the series, Dr. Kim discusses some distinctive qualities of women’s hanbok in comparison with other dress traditions; terminologies of the components and their structural parts; colors, materials, and embellishments; and symbols and ideas behind design principles and ways of dress.” – Korea Society

The webcast begins at 18:00 EST, which is 23:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

Working at the loom. ©Susan Schaefer Davis

On Saturday 19 February the Textile Museum associates of Southern California (TMA/SC) will host a presentation by Susan Schaefer Davis. Her subject will be Women Artisans of Morocco: Their Textiles, Their Stories, Their Lives.

Most textile talks focus, naturally, on the textiles themselves, looking at which materials and techniques were used to create them, in which area they were made etc.

“In this talk, anthropologist, and author of Women Artisans of Morocco, Dr. Susan Schaefer Davis, whose work focuses on Moroccan women, their textiles, changing gender roles, and adolescence, will include all of those aspects of textiles, but will also introduce you to the actual Moroccan women who make them. You will meet several of these women virtually, and to see and learn about the unique textiles they produce, the lives in which they produce them, and their thoughts about their work and goals.”

The talk begins at 10:00 PST, which is 18:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

Textile with embroidered hummingbirds, early Nasca, Peru 100BC – AD 200 
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Our next OATG online event will take place on Thursday 24 February at 18:30 GMT, and the subject will be Peru: A Journey in Time, based on the exhibition at the British Museum. Cecilia Pardo’s talk will introduce you to some of the extraordinary artefacts produced with incredible skill by the different peoples of the Andes displayed in the exhibition. She will focus on the magnificent textiles drawn from both the British Museum, and collections in Peru and beyond. 

​Helen Wolfe will end with a brief overview of the British Museum collection of Early Andean textiles, numbering over 1,000 pieces. This event is free for OATG members and a very reasonable £3 for non-members, payable via our PayPal account. For more details and registration please click here.

Don’t forget to let me know of any textile-related events or articles you think I should include here!

AGM , textile conservation, Peru, Morocco and more

A reminder to all members that the OATG AGM takes place this Thursday evening, 27 February at 18:00 GMT.

Conservation work-in-progress on the door section of a 17th-18th century bed tent from the Northern Dodecanese. In the collection of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, EA1978.101

The AGM will be followed by a short talk by OATG member Sue Stanton, textile conservator at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Sue will talk about how her work has changed during the pandemic, and describe some of the textiles she has worked on recently. These include a display of Greek embroideries, an Indian Snakes and Ladders game and a Chinese textile banknote – such a variety! I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the images she will show us of the bed tent (shown above) after conservation.

This event is primarily for OATG members, but if you are not a member and would like to attend online to get to know more about us then please email our events team.

OATG member Sarah Fee was the guest editor for the Fall 2021 edition of the Textile Museum Journal (Vol 48), which focuses on Africa and its rich textile history. A full list of the articles can be found here.

Contributing authors are taking part in a series of online interviews with Sarah Fee, discussing new research in this area. On Wednesday 9 February the participating author will be Dr Myriem Naji of University College, London. The subject will be Reconstructing the Historical “Akhnif” of Southern Morocco. The akhnif was worn in that area until the 1950s.

This event starts at 12:00 EST, which is 17:00 GMT.

Front view of cloak. Nineteenth century, Berber.
Back view. The Eliza M. and Sarah L. Niblack Collection, Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art have a particularly good example, with excellent provenance. It was collected in North Africa in the late nineteenth century by Vice Admiral Albert Parker Niblack. He gave it to his sisters, Eliza and Sarah, and they later donated it to the museum. Made of wool, cotton, goat hair and silk, it would have been woven on the loom in one single piece. The bold red decoration may give protection against the evil eye.

Click here for more images and close-ups.

I also enjoyed seeing this photograph from the collection of the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme. It was taken by Jean Besancenot circa 1935 and captioned Type of Moroccan Jew.

Votive panel “Legend of the silk princess”, Dandan Uiliq, Xinjiang Uygur AR, PR China, sixth century, British Museum, inv. No. 1907,1111.73

The European Association for Archaeologists will hold their annual conference at the end of August in Budapest. One of the sessions, organised by Dr Alexandra Makin and Dr Susanna Harris from the University of Glasgow and colleagues, is entitled Silk: a catalyst for interconnection in the sixth to tenth centuries AD/CE.

“Throughout history and across cultures silk has been considered a luxury fibre. It has connected people; been the focus of trade, exchange and espionage. It helped power the building and downfall of empires, and religious expression. It drove the development of technology and ideas, and the movement of people. Silk is a story that connects East and West and spans millennia.” – EAA website.

The deadline for submitting proposals for this session is Thursday 10 February 2022, and you can find more information on how to do that here.

Chancay Inca tunic, Peru 1000-1470. © The Trustees of the British Museum

It’s been a while since we were able to meet together in person, but the situation here is gradually improving. To that the OATG have arranged a small group visit to the exhibition Peru: a journey in time at the British Museum on Friday 11 February at 14:00 GMT.

The Chancay tunic shown above is one of the highlights of the exhibition. “The woven symbols on this tunic are painted in cream and brown tones and represent the diverse environments across the Andes. They have been arranged in bands, one showing feathers representing birds from the Amazon rainforest, and the other concentric circles possibly representing Andean lagoons or cochas. A running scroll design at the bottom depicts the moving waves of the Pacific Ocean”. – BM website.

Cecilia Pardo, lead curator for the exhibition, will give a short talk in the Great court first. Then our Chair, Helen Wolfe, who has recently retired from her role as Textile Collection Manager at the British Museum will take the group through to the exhibition and be available to answer questions. Our tickets are available at a reduced price of £10, payable on the day to Helen.

Places are very limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To reserve your place please email our Secretary Cecilia Lloyd.

Textile fragment with embroidered humming birds

Our next OATG online event will take place on Thursday 24 February at 18:30 GMT, and the subject will be the Peru exhibition. Cecilia Pardo’s talk will introduce you to some of the extraordinary artefacts produced with incredible skill by the different peoples of the Andes displayed in the exhibition. She will focus on the magnificent textiles drawn from both the British Museum, and collections in Peru and beyond. 

​Helen Wolfe will end with a brief overview of the British Museum collection of Early Andean textiles, numbering over 1,000 pieces. This event is free for OATG members, who will have received their invitation yesterday, and £3 for non-members, payable via our PayPal account. For more details and registration please click here.

Rugs and textiles from Greece, Morocco, Iran and Japan.

A final reminder that the next OATG talk will be this Thursday, 13 May 2021 at 18:30 BST, when Dr Francesca Leoni of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford will speak on the subject of Drawing with Silk: Greek Island Embroideries in the Ashmolean Museum. This talk will explore the visual richness and technical sophistication of eighteenth and nineteenth century Greek embroideries, as well as their debt to the many artistic traditions that flourished around the Mediterranean. It is based on the exhibition Mediterranean Threads – Greek Embroideries 1700 – 1900 AD, which Dr Leoni curated. An online interactive version of the exhibition is available here.

Detail from a cushion cover. Crete 17th-18th century
Linen, cotton and silk EA2004.6

Dr Leoni gave a lecture on this topic at the weekend to a US textile group and I’ve heard lots of great feedback about it. OATG members should already have received their invitation to this talk, but still need to register for it. It is also open to non-members for a small donation. Click here for more details. Don’t forget – one of the many advantages of becoming a member of the OATG is that you have access to recordings of the lectures, so if you can’t attend for any reason you don’t miss out.

Bou Oumlil, 2015

In a blog last month I wrote about the Crafting Conversations: Discourses on the Craft Heritage of the Islamic World – Past, Present and Future series of discussions hosted online by the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto. In Deconstructing the Code: Craft Collaborations in Morocco  French-Moroccan artist Sara Ouhaddou was in conversation with Dr Mariam Rosser-Owen, Curator of the Middle East section at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Sara and Mariam covered a variety of topics, including her past projects working with female weavers in the Atlas Mountains and with young female embroiderers in Tetouan. For those who missed it a recording of this event has now been made available and can be viewed here. A full playlist of all of the talks in the Crafting Conversations series can be found here.

While on the subject of Morocco, Roger Pratt of the Hajji Baba Club in New York gave a presentation in June last year on Rugs and Textiles of Morocco. This was hosted by the George Washington Museum and Textile Museum as part of their regular Rug and Textile Appreciation sessions. Presented in the form of a travelogue Roger journeyed “through a number of rarely seen private collections, highlighting Berber weavings, contemporary rugs, and historical silk embroideries and workshop production.” – GWM website. A recording of this talk is available here.

Aba, male robe, before 1877, Kashan, Iran. Museum no. 883-1877. Museum no. 883-1877. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A major new exhibition entitled Epic Iran is opening at the V & A in London on 29 May. “Exploring 5,000 years of art, design and culture, Epic Iran will shine a light on one of the greatest historic civilisations, its journey into the 21st century and its monumental artistic achievements, which remain unknown to many.” – V & A website. A short overview of the exhibition contents and themes is provided here. However to get a more comprehensive idea of what the exhibition contains I suggest reading this article from Asian Art Newspaper.

Carpet with poetry verses, 1550-1600, Iran. Silk warp and weft, knotted wool pile, areas brocaded with metal thread. 231 x 165 cm. V&A: T.402-1910. Bequeathed by George Salting

Sarah Piram, Curator of the Iranian collections at the V & A, will give an online talk to the OATG next month. This talk will give an overview of some major works, from early silk fragments showing roundels of animals, to Safavid carpets and contemporary craft tradition. Textiles and carpets will be showcased in different parts of the exhibition, and I’m sure one of the highlights will be the ‘Sanguszko’ carpet belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry – one of the greatest seventeenth century Persian carpets in private hands. Invitations to the talk, which will take place on 10 June at 18:30 BST, will go out to OATG members at the end of this week. Registration is essential, and will open to non-members a week after members. I will provide links and further details later on.

Camel chest band (detail), Qashqa’i people. Collection of Fred Mushkat

Staying on the subject of Iran, Fred Mushkat, author of Weavings of Nomads in Iran: Warp-faced Bands and Related Textiles, recently gave a talk about the Weavings of Nomads in Iran as part of the Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation series. “Warp-faced bands, containers and covers are among the rarest and least studied of all weavings made by nomads in Iran…… In this illustrated talk, collector and researcher Fred Mushkat [provided] an introduction to these weavings, focusing on different warp-faced structures, how and why these structures were used, which nomads made them and how to distinguish one nomadic group’s work from another.  ” – Textile Museum website. The talk was recorded and you can now watch it by clicking on this link.   You may also be interested in a blog I wrote in February on Nomads and their culture in Iran and Kazakhstan, which gave links to several articles and books on this subject.

Photo courtesy: CHAT (Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile), Hong Kong

And finally something completely different! Aimèe Payton has informed me that a new exhibition, MAKING NUNO Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko, will open on 17 May at Japan House London. This exhibition “showcases the innovative work of Japanese textile designer Sudō Reiko, who is renowned for pushing boundaries of textile production and championing new methods of sustainable manufacturing.” There is an interesting article about this artist in Design Week by Molly Long. Describing one of the installations she writes ”  Kibiso Crisscross, a collaborative project with the Tsuruoka Textile Makers Cooperative, showcases the process that the team developed to reuse discarded kibiso, the protective outer layer of silk cocoons. A machine that takes these tough remnants and creates yarns from them. The idea is to create “no waste and use everything”, according to the designer.”

If you are aware of interesting textile-related talks and exhibitions that could be added to this blog please do let me know! I can be contacted here.

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

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.

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.