OATG members who were unable to attend the recent talk by Nick Fielding – or indeed those who would like to see it again – will be pleased to hear that a recording of this has now been added to our website. Simply go to Events Programme – Online Events – and then enter the password for 2020. This is shown on the inside back cover of our Asian Textiles journal, or contact any committee member for details. A digital copy of the December Lockdown Newsletter has also been added under the Journals section of the website, and again you will need the password to access this.
A reminder of two talks taking place this Saturday 9th January. The first is organised by the Textile Museum, Washington and features Sylvia Fraser-Lu on Burman Textiles. For full details see my blog of 23rd December. Click here to register.
The second event is hosted by the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California. Craig Diamond will speak on two types of textiles from Mindanao in the Philippines. See my blog of 18th August for a video of Craig talking about these warp ikat cloths known as T’nalak and woven by the Tboli people from banana fibre. Click here to register for this free event.
On Saturday 23rd January Ann Marie Moeller will discuss Small Japanese Treasures from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection at the Textile Museum. Click here for full details and how to register for this free talk.
On Monday 25th January the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles will be hosting a short online talk by Elena Phipps on the subject of a Peruvian cloth woven with four selvedges. This is part of their Lunch & Learn series, but it will be at 8pm in the UK.
Don’t forget we have our own AGM on Saturday 30th January. The formal part of the meeting will be followed by a short Show and Tell of textiles from members’ collections. This is the first time we will have held this event online, so we are seizing this opportunity to invite our overseas members to present one of their textiles. We look forward to “virtually” meeting you all.
Finally I enjoyed many of the images in this online exhibition about headwear. Curated by Stacey W. Miller, The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality has wonderful examples of headwear from across the globe. This exhibition should have currently been touring several museums in the US. As that has not been possible it has instead been made available online. Several of the images are accompanied by short videos, providing more information about how and when the hats were worn.
One of the first books we ever bought on the subject of Asian textiles was Handwoven Textiles of South-East Asia by Sylvia Fraser-Lu, so I was delighted to learn that she will be giving an online talk on Burmese textiles next month.
“Sylvia Fraser-Lu’s new book, Textiles in Burman Culture, gives an overview of the history and evolution of textiles made and used by the Burman (Bama) people. This ethnic majority group comprises approximately 70 percent of the present-day population of Burma (Myanmar). The book describes and illustrates textiles made for royalty, religious leaders, and commoners—with information on fibers, dyes, and weaving techniques. Fraser-Lu also explores the importance of cloth in the life cycle, literature, and in trade relations with neighboring states.”
“Colorful photographs feature some of Burma’s most iconic textiles: wave-patterned tapestry-weave lun-taya acheik, embroidered wall hangings (kalaga), and intricately patterned Buddhist manuscript binding ribbons (sa-zi-gyo) made on a card loom. In addition to visiting the major textile centers, Fraser-Lu also ventured into the more remote areas of the Burman heartland to find new information on important lesser known textiles from Rakhine, Yaw, Shwebo, Pyay, and Shan State that have been made for sale in the Burman market.” Textile Museum website
This free online discussion is organised as part of the Rug and Textile Appreciation sessions by the Textile Museum and takes place on 9 January 2021 at 11am EST which is 1600 GMT.
Last month’s AGM heralded big changes for the OATG. Our chair Aimée Payton stood down and Helen Wolfe from the British Museum was elected to the position. Also standing down after many years of service was our webmaster Pamela Cross. Pamela developed the original OATG website from scratch and was responsible for the huge task of ensuring all of the back copies of Asian Textiles were available on it. Over the past few months she has been working with Aimée and Felicitas from our Events team to develop a new website, which was unveiled at the meeting. Please do click here to have a look at it. As you can see our Events page is starting to fill up with a great selection of exhibitions and talks. In fact our first event – a Show and Tell of Manuscript Textiles and an Introduction to the Buddhism exhibition at the British Library – is already fully booked!
Woollen tunic from an 8th century tomb in Niger
Institut de Recherches en Sciences Humaines, Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey, Niger
Just opened at The Met Fifth Avenue is Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara which focusses on the area today encompassed by Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. The history of this region will be illuminated through more than two hundred items. The majority of these will be sculptures, but there are also about 30 textiles including some very rare ancient indigo examples that were preserved in the Tellem Caves in Mali (information from Elena Phipps). Do scroll down the page to the images of the exhibition objects where you are able to click on each one to bring up the full details of the item.
30 January – 10 May 2020
The Met Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York
If you plan your visit judiciously you could also attend the first of a new Turkish Centennial lecture series on 7 February. The subject will be Impressions of Ottoman Visual Culture and Art in Europe, 1453-1699. The speaker is Professor Nurhan Atasoy from the Turkish Cultural Foundation. According to the Met website her talk will explore “the rich cross-cultural exchanges between the Ottomans and their European neighbours. Discover the factors that led to the flowering of vibrant and sophisticated artistic production throughout the vast Ottoman Empire in the centuries following the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, and learn how Europe became hungry for visual and artistic representations of their eastern neighbours.” Professor Atasoy has written and contributed to over 100 books on Ottoman and Islamic art.
7 February 2020, 17:00 – 18:00
Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall, Uris Center for Education
The Met Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York
Coming soon to the Turner Contemporary in Margate is an exhibition entitled We Will Walk – Art and Resistance in the American South. It has been curated by Hannah Collins and Paul Goodwin and “is the first exhibition of its kind in the UK and reveals a little-known history shaped by the Civil Rights period in the 1950s and 60s. It will bring together sculptural assemblages, paintings and quilts by more than 20 African American artists from Alabama and surrounding states.” – Turner Contemporary website.
Writing for artnet news, Caroline Elbaor elaborates further “A series of quilts sourced from the isolated Alabama enclave of Boykin will also make their UK debut, following a critically lauded presentation at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2002. Boykin, formerly known as Gee’s Bend, is largely populated by descendents (sic) of people enslaved on the Pettway plantation. The distinctive quilts, typically patched together from a variety of materials, including blue jeans or cornmeal sacks, have taken on a hallowed significance as symbols of resistance and survival.”
Mark Brown’s articlefor The Guardian on these distinctive quilts is also well worth a read.
7 February – 3 May 2020
Turner Contemporary, Rendezvous, Margate, Kent, CT9 1HG
There will also be a preview on Thursday 6 February when the exhibition will be opened by Bonnie Greer MBE
On 11 February OATG member Chris Buckley will be giving a talk to the Hajji Baba Club of New York on Tibetan Rugs: Ancient Problems, Innovative Solutions. Chris will explain how Tibetan rug making traditions evolved as well as examining some unique knotting methods. Having run a carpet weaving workshop in Lhasa for several years he is extremely knowledgeable on this subject. He will give the same talk to members of the International Hajji Baba Society in Washington on 9 February – see below.
9 February 2020
International Hajji Baba Society
Basement of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 4900 Connecticut Avenue, NW
The next event in the programme of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society is a talk by Markus Voigt, HALI contributing editor, on the subject of Carpets from the Tarim Basin and Tibet: and possible connections thereof. “At a casual glance Tibetan rugs might be mistaken for those from Xinjiang / Uyguristan (Eastern Turkistan). The talk will examine how two neighbouring but very disparate cultures came to have commercial crossover in rugs prior to Chinese conquest of Tibet.” – ORTS website.
19 February 2020 at 19:00
The University Women’s Club, 2 Audley Square, London, W1K 1D8
Mantle border, Peru, Nazca culture, early Intermediate Period (2nd–8th century). Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-0093. Photo by Bruce M. White.
This month sees the opening of a new exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington DC called Delight in Discovery: The Global Collections of Lloyd Cotsen. Over 4000 pieces from the Cotsen Collection were donated to the Textile Museum in 2018 and this new exhibition brings together some of the global treasures he collected over a lifetime. You can read more about Lloyd Cotsen and his collecting in this blog from last year.
22 February – 5 July 2020
The Textile Museum, 701 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052
Over in San Francisco Itie van Hout will be giving a talk on the Indonesian Textiles at the Tropenmuseum. Itie was the former Curator of Textiles at the Tropenmuseum, which houses nearly 12,000 textiles from across Indonesia, collected over a period of 160 years. The majority of these were taken to the Netherlands when Indonesia was a Dutch colony known as the Netherlands East Indies. She has written extensively on Indonesian textiles. For further details visit the website of the Textile Arts Council.
22 February 2020, 10:00am
Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco CA 94118
Indonesian textiles are also the subject of another exhibition which has recently undergone a complete change in Bangkok. A Royal Treasure: The Javanese Batik Collection of King Chulalongkorn of Siam opened in November 2018. However this month all of the textiles are being replaced with different examples from the substantial Royal collection. This will also happen again in September, giving visitors the opportunity to see a far greater selection of these batik textiles. “Among the highlights of the latest acquisitions are a few pieces that have never been displayed before, namely, the Mikado pattern from Yogyakarta which reflects the Japanese influence in the various Japanese fans portrayed through the batik printing technique, as well as the blangkon headdress painted with gold known as batik prada, assumed to come from Cirebon, West Java. It was used only on special occasions by male members of the royal family. Only one piece has been found in the entire royal collection.” Sawasdee magazine. For more images and information please click here.
1 November 2018 – 31 May 2021
Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, Ratsadakhorn-bhibhathana Building, The Grand Palace, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, 10200 Thailand
The National Museum has recently opened a small textile gallery and is jJust a short distance away from the Grand Palace so you could easily combine a visit to the two collections. Michael Backman has written a short blog about this gallery with some close-ups of a few of the textiles. He says that “Included are pha lai yang textiles – printed cotton fabrics that show thep phanom deity figures, worn as a lower garment by members of the royal family. There is a shawl known as a pha sphak that is of silk woven with gold thread and embellished with fluorescent beetle wings.”
The National Museum Bangkok, Na Phrthat Rd., Phra Borommaharachawang subdistrict, Phra Nakorn, Bangkok
Back in the UK a temporary textile exhibition has been curated at the Milton Keynes Museum. Called A Sense of Place and Time, this is an exhibition of textile art set within the history of textiles. Ethnic textiles are on show alongside contemporary examples by Art2Stitch. There will be a changing section on communication through textiles featuring examples from other cultures.
23 November 2019 – 26 April 2020
The New Gallery, Milton Keynes Museum, McConnell Drive, Wolverton, Milton Keynes, MK12 5EL
Please note this museum is staffed by volunteers and has limited opening times.
Many members have been looking forward to the V&A’s new blockbuster exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk which finally opens in London on 29 February. It is being curated by Anna Jackson, Keeper of the Asian Department, who also wrote the introduction to Thomas Murray’s book (see my December blog). In an interview with Jess Cartner-Morley for The Guardian she says her aim in this exhibition is to “overturn the idea of the kimono as static, atrophied object and show it as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion”. She also discusses the history of the kimono, and cultural appropriation. This is well worth a read to whet your appetite for the exhibition.
In another interview for LOVE magazine Anna Jackson talks about the difficulty of acquiring some of the pieces, their fragility, and the challenges in displaying them correctly.
The exhibition will be in three sections. “It begins by unpicking the social significance and heritage of the kimono in 17th century Japan, moving to consider the kimono and its position across a more international agenda, finishing with the progressive transformation of its comtemporary (sic) identity.” Scarlett Baker, LOVE magazine.
29 February – 21 June 2020
Gallery 39 and North Court, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London
The OATG have planned a visit to this exhibition, which will include a talk by Anna Jackson, for 26 May. Booking for the limited number of places available will open for members in mid-April via Eventbrite.
While at the V&A you should also take a look at the posters in this small exhibition entitled Manners and Modernity: Ukiyo-e and etiquette on the Seibu Railway. These posters convey how to be a well-behaved commuter through humorous messages.
They will be on display in Room 45 of the Toshiba Gallery until 22 March 2020.
Conserving Pumpie the elephant
Those who cannot get to the V&A will be interested to know that a new 6 part documentary filmed behind the scenes begins next week on BBC 2. The series is called Secrets of the Museum and looks at the work of the curators and conservators as they handle a wide variety of different objects, ranging from Queen Victoria’s coronet to a stuffed toy elephant! Henry Wong has written a fascinating piece about this series for design week, including an interview with Alastair Pegg (the director of programmes at Blast! Films) who concludes that “It reveals what’s behind the closed doors — there’s an industriousness that visitors don’t see. That’s the pleasure of this series.”
Secrets of the Museum
6 February BBC 2 at 2100
Finally, I was fascinated to read of this work by a team from Leeds Museums and Galleries and researchers from various disciplines to recreate the voice of an Egyptian priest called Nesyamun who lived around 1100 BC. The mummified remains of Nesyamun were scanned at the Leeds General Infirmary and a 3D model of his throat was reproduced using a 3D printer. A full and very interesting account of the project is given here in layman’s terms, but if you want to read the scientific paper then click here.
After a hiatus of more than ten years, The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum are pleased to announce the relaunch of the Textile Museum Journal.
Established in 1962, the Textile Museum Journal is the leading publication for the exchange of textile scholarship in North America. The peer-reviewed journal promotes high-quality research on the cultural, technical, historical and aesthetic significance of textiles from Asian, African and indigenous American cultures. Last issued in 2004, the journal resumed annual publication last month, thanks to a Founding Patron gift from the Markarian Foundation, and is now available in an online format.
Table of Contents Textile Museum Journal, Volume 44
Toward a Grammar of Textiles: A Reconsideration of Medieval Textile Aesthetics and the Impact of Modern Collecting
Nomad Textile Bags from Central Asia in the 19th and 20th Centuries: Geographic Distribution, Decoration, Semantics
Through the Renaissance Frame: Carpets and the Beginnings of ‘Islamic Art’ in Nineteenth-Century Vienna and Berlin
Pope Innocent VIII’s Mamluk Carpets from Cairo in Context: Their Manufacture and Acquisition
Rosamond E. Mack
Rethinking Mamluk Carpet Origins
For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum, Washington DC.
Textiles have been part of Central Asian identity for hundreds of years, peaking in the nineteenth century with the production of ikats that featured bold, original designs and vibrant colours. In the twentieth century, the Soviet Union came to power, bringing economic change and “modernization” to the region. Join the Textile Museum on 28 April for a lecture by expert Andrew Hale on the influence of revolutionary Russia on Central Asia’s textile and other traditions.
Hale is a collector, curator, and internationally recognised expert in the nomadic textiles and silk-weaving traditions of Central Asia, as well as the author of numerous articles and books on Central Asian art. During his talk, he will pull from his personal archive of over two thousand photographs documenting this region in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
This lecture explores themes from the exhibition ‘Old Patterns, New Order: Socialist Realism in Central Asia’, open until 29 May.
For more information, visit the website of the GW Textile Museum, Washington DC, USA.
The Musée des tissus in Lyon is in a very difficult situation: last year, the French government decided to withdraw subsidies from the country’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry (we are talking here about more than 500 million euros). For the Chambre de Commerce de Lyon this meant that they could no longer support the textile museum, for which they have been responsible since 1854. It was hoped (and there have been negotiations to that end) that either the city of Lyon or the French Ministry of Culture would step in – but they are reluctant to take on the responsibility. If we cannot resolve this situation, the museum will be closed at the beginning of next year. (Please understand that this is an abbreviated version of what’s happening. For a detailed account, visit the link below.)
On Monday, a petition was launched that has been signed by more than 10,000 people so far. I have included a link to this petition below (the English text will become visible if you click ‘Read more’ at the end of the French introduction), and the museum and its community would be very grateful if you could sign it and spread the news among your friends and colleagues.
The Musée des tissus de Lyon is one of the most important, if not the most important collection of textiles in the world; it is a treasure trove, a mine of inspiration, a centre for research and the home of CIETA (Centre International d’Etude des Textiles Anciens) – please help us save it!