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.

Events: Textile events this week in the UK, Bangkok and New York

It’s a busy week for textile lovers with several interesting talks across a variety of subjects.

Woman’s hat, late 19th century. Photo © Wendel Swan

Tomorrow evening Roger Pratt, a Trustee of The Textile Museum, will give a talk on Selected Hats from the Silk Road as part of the Hajji Baba Club of New York’s ongoing programme. Roger will show and discuss some of the hats from his collection which featured in the exhibition held at the Corcoran Museum last June as part of the International Conference on Oriental Carpets XIV. These will include Turkmen Hats; Turkmen Tekke Hats; Central Asian Non-Turkmen Hats; Persian Conical Dervish Hats; Central Asian Longtail Hats; Inscribed Religious Hats; and Ottoman Syrian Aleppo Hats. 

Early 19th century dervish hat. Photo © Wendel Swan

Location: The Coffee House Club, 20 West 44th St (bet 5th & 6th Ave), 6th Floor, New York NY 10036
Doors open 6:00pm for cocktails, meeting starts at 6:30pm

This event is also open to non-members for a fee. For more information visit the website of the Hajji Baba Club. For those who cannot make it to this talk R. John Howe has given a wonderful overview of the exhibition, along with lots of excellent images on his Eccentric Wefts site here.

Woman’s dress made from alatzia. © Mary Spyrou.

On Wednesday 20 March Mary Spyrou will talk to members of the London-based Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) on the subject of Cypriot textiles – techniques, materials, patterns, uses and the importance of dowry textiles.

This talk will encompass the wide variety of Cypriot textile traditions, which include weaving, embroidery and lace making – now listed under the UNESCO Intangible cultural heritage of Cyprus. The ORTS website points out :- “Cyprus is located in the eastern corner of the Mediterranean sea, at the cross roads where the west meets the east, settled, conquered and occupied by many civilisations, including Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans, all of whom have had an influence on the development of the artistic heritage of Cyprus.

The raw materials used – silk, cotton,wool, flax and linen ; the designs and patterns inspired by nature, and the many items made, including garments and domestic furnishings, for example, and especially their role and importance as dowry textiles, part of a rich Folk art tradition which experienced a decline from around the middle of the 20th century will be the main focus of the talk.”

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

Non-members welcome for a fee. For more details visit the ORTS website.

This Thursday Karen Horton, Independent Textile and Ethnographic Conservator, will give a talk to Oxford Asian Textile Group members on the subject of Lifting the Veil: The Conservation and Mounting of Thangkas at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. The talk will focus on the conservation of the Tibetan thangkas textile mounts and the minimal intervention policy that the Chester Beatty Library adheres too. She will discuss the methods and materials used, the ethical implication of conserving sacred textiles and the non-invasive mounting method she designed and developed with her colleagues at the library to install the thangkas allowing them to be displayed with their veils pleated as they would have hung in their Himalayan temple setting.

The Chester Beatty Library Dublin, is an art museum and library that houses the world-class collection of East Asian, European and Islamic art assembled by the great philanthropist and collector Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). The Tibetan collection, which is mainly Buddhist, includes Tibetan sacred texts, ritual objects and forty-eight predominantly nineteenth century thangka’s of which 26 retain their textile mounts.

Karen is currently conserving and researching a group of Ming Dynasty textiles in Xi’an China where she works each year. She is studying for her Ph.D. and her research topic is Tibetan/Chinese Embroidered and Woven Thangka’s and Buddhist Textiles, Collections, Provenance and the Art Maker 1400 to present.

Location: The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS.

Time: 6.00 p.m. (for a 6.15 p.m. start) – 8 p.m.

Non-members welcome for a small fee. Visit the OATG website for more details.

This short video by the Asia Society of New York has some wonderful black and white images of thangkas in use in monasteries. Adriana Proser, the John H. Foster Senior Curator for Traditional Asian Art, also gives an insight into several richly coloured thangkas which formed part of an exhibition called Unknown Tibet: The Tucci Expeditions and Buddhist Painting, which she co-curated with Deborah Klimburg-Salter.

Screenshot from the video by Dawa Drolma. © Smithsonian Institution.

Thangkas have been produced since at least the 14th century and are still being produced today. Some are made from small pieces of fabric and others are painted. This article in the magazine of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage discusses modern thangka production, contrasting the work of dedicated painters who use traditional mineral pigments and have studied the relevant techniques for many years, with thangkas which are mass-produced by companies in factories by printing images on canvas with acrylic paint.

The article includes an excellent video produced by Dawa Drolma which shows all of the steps taken in producing a thangka, beginning with making the actual canvas on which the image will be painted. The painters describe the three different styles of thangka painting and it is a joy to watch them producing these paintings right down to the final gilding.

Thangka held at the Met Museum. © Metropolitan Museum.

Kristine Kamiya, a textile conservator at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, has written a great blog on restoring a particular appliquéd textile thangka. After careful examination with a microscope they discovered that it was made up of lots of different textiles which may even have spanned the duration of the Ching dynasty. The enlarged images showing the use of horsehair to give an extra dimension to the cloth are fascinating.

Saturday 23 March sees two events, luckily in different parts of the globe. World Textile Day Wales, the first World Textile Day of 2019,  will take place in Llanidloes. This will include an exhibition of world textiles, a presentation by Jacqui Carey (Japanese kumihimo expert), a demonstration by Liz Beasley (expert in Chilean dyeing and weaving), a braiding demonstration by the Braid Society and much, much more.

For full details visit the World Textile Day website.

Two examples of 18th century Indian chintz intended for European clientele. © Thweep Rittinaphakorn.

The second event is a talk to the Thai Textile Society in Bangkok by Thweep Rittinaphakorn (known as Ake), on the subject of Export Chintz – The Flagship Indian Trade Cloths. Ake is the curator of the Siam Society textiles collection and an avid textile scholar. 

“India has clothed the world for centuries. Its rich textile heritage has left imprints on and influenced textiles artistic sense and production worldwide. Among all textiles exported from India to other lands, “Chintz” (fine cotton fabric with hand-drawn motifs and details) were the most prized items. Known locally by the technical term of “Kalamkari”, the type produced for export has distinctive characteristics and held high virtue in various ways from its complex production technique, perplexing range of colours, and vast design customisation for different markets they were intended for.  Although in Thailand Indian Chintz has been known to Thai textiles collectors and enthusiasts for years, it was rather limited to only those that were made for the Siamese court. Little is known about the Chintz produced for other markets, both in Southeast Asia as well as in Europe. This talk intends to provide a glimpse of examples of Chintz produced by the Indians for other markets, to provide a basic understanding in the differences from design aspect to usage context.” – Thai Textile Society website.

Location: Bandara Suites Silom, 4th floor conference room, first building 75/1 Soi Saladaeng 1, Bangkok

For further information on this talk, which is also open to non-members, please visit the website of the Thai Textile Society.

 

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