Azerbaijan culture, talks on Savu, Lao textiles, kantha and much more…..

Although here in the UK the museums are still closed, in other parts of the world new exhibitions are opening. Weaving the Thread of Fate into the Carpet – Decorative and Applied Art of Azerbaijan opened last week at the Russian Museum of Ethnography in St Petersburg. This exhibition is a collaboration between the REM and the Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum. It will run until 18 May 2021. On show are more than forty carpets, as well as embroidery, printed textiles, leatherwork and jewellery.

Gadirga. Shirvan, Azerbaijan. Late nineteenth century. The warp and weft are wool. Collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography.

The majority of the carpets date to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but the exhibition also features a Surakhani carpet from Baku which dates to the late eighteenth century. A short article about the exhibition has been published in Jozan magazine and can be accessed here. The website of the Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum is well worth visiting. It gives an overview of their collection, and you can also take a virtual tour of the museum.

Pages from a dye book in the Crutchley Archive (SLHLA 2011/5-13). Photo by Dominique Cardon.

Turning now to talks taking place in March. The first of these is on Wednesday 10 March when Dr Anita Quye will be interviewed by Dr Mary Dusenbury, guest editor of the recent edition of The Textile Museum Journal, about  three dyers who made significant contributions to colour and dyeing technology. “Together with collaborators Iris Brémaud, Dominique Cardon and Jenny Balfour Paul, Dr. Quye conducted comparative research on notebooks compiled by three different dyers between 1722 and 1747 in London and Languedoc, France. In this interview, she will reflect on the similarity of their palettes, the virtuosity of the dyers as colorists, their shared technical language, and the scientific accuracy of the colors in their portfolios.” – Textile Museum website. This event will take place at 12:00 EST, which is 17:00 GMT. The event is free, but you do need to register for it.

Ersari chuval, private collection

On Saturday 13 March Dr Richard Isaacson will give an online presentation to the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMA/SC) entitled Woven Gems along the Silk Road: Small Pile Weavings of the Turkic Nomads of Central Asia. This will take place at 10:00 PST, which is 18:00 GMT. The red carpets and rugs of the Türkmen have long been appreciated in the West. However it wasn’t until much later that textile lovers began to become familiar with the weavings of other related ethnic Turkic groups such as the Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs and Qaraqalpaqs. Dr. Isaacson’s talk will begin with a review of the principal small weavings of the various Türkmen tribes. In the second part of the programme, he will show examples from the other related Turkic tribal groups in Central Asia, and compare them to their Türkmen counterparts. Richard has studied these weavings for many years and in 2007 he curated an exhibition on the Tent Bands of Central Asia for the Textile Museum in Washington. This event is free, but again registration is essential so please do click here if you wish to attend.

Image © Cathy Stevulak

The following day, Sunday 14 March, the Textile Arts Council will host a viewing of the award-winning documentary Threads, which shows how the late Surayia Rahman transformed “kantha, the traditional Bengali technique of repurposing old sarees into patchwork embroidered fabrics, into an internationally recognized art form. Today in Bangladesh kantha continues to support women’s economic opportunities and sustains artisan enterprise and the evolution of indigenous design.” – Textile Arts Council. The screening will be followed by a conversation between the documentary-maker, Cathy Stevulak, and Dr. Sanchita Saxena, during which they will discuss the future of this art form, women artisans in Bangladesh and how indigenous arts can be preserved, while at the same time creating a sustainable future for their makers. Non-members are welcome to attend this screening for a small fee. It will take place at 13:00 PST, which is 20:00 GMT and you can register for it here.

If you would like to learn more about the story behind this documentary I suggest you visit the ClothRoads website where they have an interesting blog on how it was made, beginning with the maker hearing about “a woman with grey hair who does remarkable embroidery work”.

OATG member David Richardson discussing textiles with Geneviève Duggan on Savu

The following weekend is a rather busy one, with no less than three talks (that I am aware of) taking place. Firstly the OATG is delighted to be welcoming back Dr. Geneviève Duggan to give another talk – although sadly this one will be online only. Dr. Duggan is an anthropologist who has researched the culture, history and weaving traditions of the remote Indonesian island of Savu for three decades. I have to declare a special interest in this as I too first visited Savu thirty years ago – coincidentally on the same boat as Geneviève, but at a different time. The intriguing title of the talk is People without history in eastern Indonesia, powerful or powerless? Dr. Duggan will discuss several important life cycle ceremonies, which are the responsibility of women “whose intangible power resides in handwoven cloths produced for the occasion”.

Collecting salt which has been produced by evaporating seawater in lontar palm baskets

The talk will take place on Saturday 20 March at 11:00 am GMT. Unfortunately this timing doesn’t work well for our members on the West coast of the USA, but as Geneviève is based in Singapore we were restricted in our choice. The recording of the programme will later be archived in the members-only section of our website. This event is of course free for OATG members. Non-members are welcome for a small fee, but do need to register by clicking here – don’t forget places are limited! Having visited the weavers on Savu many times, including several times with Geneviève, I can thoroughly recommend this talk.

At-home shoes, England, c. 1880. Rasht-work embroidery. The Bata Shoe Museum.

The next talk on the same day – Saturday 20 March – will be hosted by the Textile Museum as part of its Rug and Textile Appreciation series. The subject will be Embroidered Shoes from the Bata Shoe Museum, 1700-1950. Edward Maeder, who has been a museum curator and director since 1977, ” will explore examples from the world of European high fashion, including remarkable shoes from the 18th and 19th centuries. Maeder will also discuss shoes made with ethnographically specific decorative textile techniques, such as Persian ‘rasht-work’. This type of inlayed wool-work is extensively finished with silk chain-stitch embroidery. Other complex embroidery methods incorporate glass beads, moose-hair and fine gold and silver embroidery on leather, silk and even wool.” – Textile Museum. This free talk will begin at 11:00 EDT, which is 15:00 GMT. Click here to register. Do also take a look at the website of the Bata Shoe Museum as it has lots of interesting posts, particularly on the conservation of different shoes.

The scarf and shawls I collected in 1997 and 2000

The final talk is again on the same day and hosted by the Textile Arts Council. The speaker is Carol Cassidy and the subject is Weaving, Tradition, Art and Community. Carol founded Lao Textiles in Vientiane in 1990. It was the first American business in the country and was based on the traditional skills of the weavers. Some of the challenges Carol and her husband faced are brought to life in this article in the Wall Street Journal. An experienced weaver herself, Carol made some design alterations to the looms. I’ve been fortunate to visit her twice, in 1997 and again in 2000 and the quality of the textiles is superb. I enjoyed reading this article by someone else who also visited in the 1990s and then much more recently in 2020. She pointed out that “Artisans can only replicate what they have been taught. To bridge the gap between the simplicity of an artisan’s lifestyle and our western sophisticated retail market, Carol and the like are the necessary link to success.” – Valerie Gregori McKenzie. The talk takes place at 10:00 PST which is 17:00 GMT. There is a small fee for non-members and you can register here.

Rampant Lions Mola panel, c. 1950–70.   The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1971.197

I’ve been working for some time on a list of museums with textile collections and came across a small private museum in Germany dedicated to the molas of Panama. The Forum Mola-Kunst is in the city of Bremen and has a small permanent exhibition of these panels which in the past were only used in women’s blouses, but now are increasingly used on bags etc. Today I discovered that an exhibition of entitled Fashioning Identity: Mola Textiles of Panamá is currently on at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The museum website has an excellent gallery guide, which gives an overview of the history and culture of the people who produce these vibrant textiles.

T M Journal Interview Series, Chintz and Japanese Kesa.

This Wednesday, 27 January, OATG member Sarah Fee of the Royal Ontario Museum will discuss  the exciting revivals and innovations taking place today in India’s unique art of painting cottons using the kalam pen and natural dyes with Renuka Reddy of Bengaluru. The event, entitled Chintz Today: Breathing New Life into Traditional Textile Design, will take place at 1600 EDT which is 2100 in the UK. Further details and registration can be found here.

Hand painted mordant and resist dyed cloth by Renuka Reddy

Many of you will be familiar with the Textile Museum Journal which is published annually. It is peer-reviewed and always features a range of articles from a variety of scholars and textile experts. The most recent edition, published in autumn 2020, was guest edited by Dr Mary Dusenbury and is on the subject of colour.

A series of online interviews has been organised with some of the contributors to this edition. These interviews will take place during February and will “discuss the importance of recent advances in dye analysis, the value of collaborative, interdisciplinary research, and the multiple roles that a study of color can play in understanding a textile and shedding light on its historical and cultural context.” – Textile Museum Journal email.

There will be a total of 4 interviews, each taking place at 12pm eastern time, which is 1700 in the UK. You can register for each one individually.

The first interview will be on Wednesday 10th February and features dye specialist Dr Dominique Cardon. Dr. Cardon will discuss her research on three dyers who made significant contributions to colour and dyeing technology.

“Together with collaborators Iris Brémaud, Anita Quye and Jenny Balfour Paul, Dr. Cardon conducted a comprehensive study of notebooks compiled by three different dyers between 1722 and 1747 in London and Languedoc, France. In this interview, she will reflect on the similarity of their palettes, the virtuosity of the dyers as colorists, their shared technical language, and the scientific accuracy of the colors in their portfolios.” – Textile Museum website. For more information on the work of Dr Cardon see my earlier blog.


Man’s ponchito (detail), 19th century. The Fowler Museum 2011.36.11. Gift of Connirae and Steve Andreas. Photo by Don Cole.

The second interview will take place one week later, on Wednesday 17 February. Dr Elena Phipps will discuss “the Andean predilection for textiles that reflect light” with Dr Mary Dusenbury. Dr Phipps has written prolifically on textiles of the Andes and a selection of her work can be found here.

Vine-scroll design carpet (detail), Iran, 17th century. Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga 10Tp.

The subject of the interview the following week (on Wednesday 24 February) is Oriental carpets found in Portuguese collections. Dr Dusenbury will be joined by Raquel Santos, Blythe McCarthy, Maria João Ferreira and Ana Claro, co-authors of three of the papers in the Journal.


Anhalt Carpet (detail), Iran, 1500-1550. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 46.128. Gift of Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1946.

Please note that the final interview is NOT the following Wednesday, but will take place on Friday 26 February. This will be with Dr Walter Denny who “will explore the controversies and difficulties surrounding any study of color in pile carpets by art historians, conservators and photographers….. and….how scholarly expectations of color in the various historical eras and geographic groups of carpets are shaped by what has survived of old traditions.”

Buddhist Priest’s Vestment (Kesa) with Phoenix, Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), Date 19th century, Japan, Silk and metallic thread tapestry, Overall: 44 x 80 in. (111.8 x 203.2 cm). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The following day, Saturday 27 February, the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California will host an online talk by Alan Kennedy entitled Kesa: ‘Patchwork’ Buddhist Monks’ Robes in Japan, From Austere to Luxurious. This will take place at 10am Pacific time which is 1800 in the UK. “Kesa is the Japanese word for the traditional patchwork garment worn by Buddhist monks and nuns. These garments are among the earliest documented articles of clothing in Japan, based on inventory records dating to the 8th century. The history of kesa in Japan is of significance for both sacred and secular reasons. They served as a vehicle for both the transmission of Buddhism and of luxury textiles to Japan from the Asian mainland. Kesa that have been preserved in Japan are made of a wide variety of materials, ranging from monochrome bast fibre to sumptuous imported gold brocades. ….. This talk will survey kesa from its earliest history to modern times.” TMA/SC. Registration for this talk is available here.

Selected textile events and articles

 

A selection of current and upcoming textile-related events and articles. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but rather a sample of the things that have caught my eye.

 

©British Museum EA71854, Trustees of the British Museum.

Next week the Centre for Textile Research in Copenhagen will host a free two-day programme on The Colour Blue in Ancient Egypt and Sudan. “Since the Neolithic, the colour blue has been highly prized all along the Nile Valley, where its strong relation to the divine is particularly embodied by the god Amun. Blue pigments and dyes occupied a very special place in the visual landscape, where they adorned temples, palaces, statues and people’s bodies thanks to a large repertoire of blue cloths and personal adornments.” – TAES Network at Centre for Textile Research. This interdisciplinary programme includes a presentation on The use of blue in Egyptian garments of the 1st millennium, another on Blue in the iconography and textiles in the medieval kingdom of Makuria (Sudan), and a workshop on Reviving indigo dyeing in Mali: from farming to contemporary arts.

Aboubakar Fofana – master indigo dyer. ©Jonas Ungar

Hole and Corner have a great interview with Aboubakar Fofana, who was born in Mali but grew up in France, in which he discusses indigo dyeing in Ancient Egypt and concludes that “What they were doing 5,000 years ago is the same as I am doing today, and in 100 years’ time we can do the same thing.”

For more details and to register please click here.

Details
3-4 March 2020
Karen Blixens Plads 8
2300 København S
Denmark

 

Lena Bjerregaard, a guest researcher at the Centre for Textile Research, has just published a catalogue of the pre-Columbian textiles from the Roemer-und Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, northern Germany. There are 405 pre-Columbian textiles in the museum collection, of which 133 are represented in this extremely well-illustrated catalogue. “Along the coast of Peru is one of the driest deserts in the world. Here, under the sand, the ancient Peruvians buried their dead wrapped in gorgeous textiles. As organic material keeps almost forever when stored without humidity, light and oxygen, many of the mummies excavated in the last hundred years are in excellent conditions. And so are the textiles wrapped around them.” – Lena Bjerregaard. This catalogue has very generously been made available as a free download which can be accessed here.

 

Curator Oliver Gauert with a selection of textiles, including an Egungun dance costume from Benin. ©Romer-Pelizaeus Museum

In addition to their collection of pre-Columbian textiles, the Romer-Pelizaeus Museum also has extensive holdings from Africa – the focus of their current exhibitions. Voodoo has been curated by Oliver Gauert and also showcases items from other museums such as the Soul of Africa Museum in Essen and the Africa Museum in Berg en Dal. It opened last October and continues until mid-May. ZDF heute journal have produced an excellent video giving an overview of the objects in the exhibition, which includes several textiles.

Details
19 October 2019 – 17 May 2020
Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum
Hildesheim Am Steine 1-2, D-31134 Hildesheim

 

Kaparamip with red cotton fabric border © Textiles of Japan: The Thomas Murray Collection at The Minneapolis Institute of Art

The speaker at the next meeting of the New York-based Hajji Baba Club will be Thomas Murray – a well-respected researcher, collector, dealer and author of several books, the latest being Textiles of Japan: The Thomas Murray Collection.

This talk, entitled Traditional Textiles of Japan, will explore Japan’s rich tradition of textiles, from firemen’s ceremonial robes and austere rural workwear to colourful, delicately-patterned cotton kimono. “The traditional clothing and fabrics featured in this lecture were made and used in the islands of the Japanese archipelago between the late 18th and the mid-20th century. The Thomas Murray collection includes daily dress, workwear, and festival garb and follows the Arts and Crafts philosophy of the Mingei Movement, which saw that modernisation would leave behind traditional art forms such as the handmade textiles used by country people, farmers, and fishermen. The talk will present subtly patterned cotton fabrics, often indigo-dyed from the main islands of Honshu and Kyushu, along with garments of the more remote islands: the graphic bark cloth, nettle fibre, and fish skin robes of the aboriginal Ainu in Hokkaido and Sakhalin to the north, and the brilliantly coloured cotton kimono of Okinawa to the far south.” – Thomas Murray.

Details
Monday 9 March 2020
The Coffee House Club, Sixth Floor, 20 West 44th St, Manhattan, NY

 

 

Japanese textiles – this time focussing on embroidery are the subject of an exhibition currently taking place at the Japanese Foundation in Los Angeles. The exhibition is entitled Melodies of Shining Silk: Japanese Embroidery and features the work of Shizuka Kusano, a leading contemporary textile artist. “Embroidery was initially introduced into Japan from China together with Buddhism.  It became open to the merchant class culture in the Edo period.  As the clothing arts flourished, advanced dyeing and weaving techniques were used to create kimonos and kimono sashes.  Today, a variety of materials are available, enabling various expressions depending on individual originality and ingenuity.” – Japan Foundation website.

Details
15 February – 21 March 2020
The Japan Foundation, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., #100 Los Angeles, CA 90036

 

A day dress from around 1800 and a portrait of Constance Pipelet, 1797. ©Art Institute Chicago

Opening at the end of the month in Chicago is a new exhibition on Western European dress. Fabricating Fashion: Textiles for Dress, 1700-1825 examines how clothing from that period was assembled by hand and looks at the importance of selecting the right fabric. “In the early 18th century, the most fashionable men’s and women’s ensembles were made of richly coloured silks and translucent lace, but by the early 1800s lighter cotton textiles, both plain and printed, became more common. The increase in Europe’s taste for cotton textiles gave rise to intense international competition for technical innovation and control of worldwide markets, which produced a wide variety of beautiful fabrics.” – Art Institute Chicago website.

Some portraits and prints will be presented alongside textiles from the period, thus bringing an extra dimension to them.

Details
28 March – 26 July 2020
Art Institute Chicago, 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603

 

Photo ©Barbara Kaslow.

On a similar note, the new British Galleries will open at The Met in New York next week. These will consist of ten galleries with 11,000 square feet devoted to various forms of British art from 1500-1900 including sculpture, ceramics and textiles. These textiles range from tapestries to embroideries, coats to bed panels.

You could always combine a visit to these galleries with a visit to the Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara exhibition which I blogged about recently.

Details
Opens 2 March 2020
The Met Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028

 

Part of a banner which will be displayed in full at the special event. Photo courtesy The Siam Society.

The Siam Society will be hosting a special event in collaboration with the Thai Textile Society in late March. On display will be several painted Vessantara Jakata scrolls from the collection of ML Pawinee Santisiri. These banners range in length from 30 to 50 metres and this will be a unique opportunity to see them opened and displayed in full. They are usually used during the Boon Phra Ves festival – a very important Buddhist ceremony.

Details
Saturday 21 March 2020
1.30pm–4pm (Registration opens at 1pm.)
The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21
Members and Students THB 200,  Non-Members THB 300

 

Image courtesy of IMDB

The Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) will be screening a 1976 film entitled People of the Wind about Bakhtiari migrations. This film is a sequel to Grass, a classic silent film made in 1925 by three Americans who made their way across Turkey and Iraq to meet the Bakhtiari in their winter quarters and follow them and their flocks over swollen rivers and up over snow-covered mountain passes to reach their summer pastures.  Following the same route with descendants of the same people, People of the Wind shows what has changed and what has stayed the same over the intervening decades.

“There are two hundred miles of raging rivers and dangerous mountains to cross. There are no towns, no roads, no bridges. There is no turning back. The Bakhtiari migration is one of the most hazardous tests of human endurance known to mankind. Every year, 500,000 men, women and children – along with one million animals – struggle for eight grueling weeks to scale the massive Zagros Mountains in Iran – a range which is as high as the Alps and as broad as Switzerland – to reach their summer pastures. The film’s astonishing widescreen photography and brilliantly recorded soundtrack take the viewer out onto the dangerous precipices of the Zardeh Kuh mountain and into the icy waters of the Cholbar River.” – Fiona Kelleghan

The film will be presented by Antony Wynne who lived in rural Iran for many years. Click here for more details.

Details
Wednesday 18 March 2020, 19:00.
The University Women’s Club, 2 Audley Square, South Audley Street, London, W1K 1DB

 

Hanbok: The Colours of Korean Lunar New Year

Hanbok: The Colours of Korean Lunar New Year is an exhibition in Sydney, Australia, co-presented by the Korean Cultural Centre and the Hanbok Advancement Center in South Korea. It introduces “many different kinds of hanbok, the traditional garment worn by Korean people on many traditional and family occasions including seollal, Korea’s Lunar New Year. In this exhibition, the KCC will showcase the colourful, eye-pleasing attire highlighting various forms of seolbim or ttae-ttae-ot referring to a new set of hanbok prepared on Lunar New Year’s Day.” – The Asian Arts Society of Australia.

Details
5 February – 13 March 2020
Korean Cultural Centre, Ground Floor, 255 Elizabeth St., Sydney.

 

Woollen tunic, 700-800 AD. © Bolton Museum and Art Gallery.

Back in the UK I was fascinated to read of the amazing collection of Egyptian textiles at Bolton Museum and Art Gallery. The spinning mule was invented in Bolton by Samuel Crompton in the 1780s and over the following century Bolton became famous as a textile production centre. “The first two curators of the Chadwick Museum in Bolton, William Midgley (curator 1881-1908) and his son Thomas Midgley (curator 1908-1934), were specialists in the study of ancient textiles. In some cases, they provided excavators with an assessment of the textiles found at a particular site in return for a share of the finds. As a result, Bolton’s ancient textile collection has a known archaeological context which makes them especially significant for study.” – Museum website. These curators were fascinated by the fact that the people of Ancient Egypt were producing such high quality fabrics thousands of years ago despite not having access to modern technology.

 

©visitmanchester.com

I highly recommend reading this article by Emily Oldfield which gives a great overview of the museum and certainly made me want to head over there.

Details

Bolton Museum, Le Mans Crescent, Bolton, BL1 1SE

 

Layout of pattern with prefelt – beginning to fill in with fleece, Khotan. ©Christine Martens

Finally the March programme from the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMASC) is a talk by Christine Martens, an expert on Central Asian felts and patchwork.

“Felt-making has existed for millennia in the cities and villages of what is now the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwest China, homeland of the Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uyghurs. Archeological discoveries give a sense of this ancient art, which continues to flourish in the oases that dot the southern rim of the Taklamakan. Christine Martens will … examine the processes, and tools that distinguish Uyghur felt from those of the Turkmen, Kyrgyz, Turks and Mongolians” – TMA/SC newsletter.

Details
Saturday 21 March 2020 09:30am
Luther Hall, St Bede’s Episcopal Church, 3590 Grand View Blvd., Los Angeles

For further information please email info@tmasc.org

 

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Video: Reviving a Silk Road Tradition

Screenshot from the documentary. © NHK World Japan

NHK World Japan have just released a new short documentary on ikat-making in Uzbekistan. It will be available to view until 8 March 2019 here.

This short documentary focuses on the work of Muhayo Aliyeva, the remarkable woman behind the Bibi Hanum brand. Muhayo created this brand back in 2006 and through it has provided work for many women not only in her Tashkent headquarters, but also further afield in the Ferghana Valley. According to their website “Bibi Hanum™ is a socially responsible enterprise that creates garments and accessories using traditional hand-woven silk cotton ikat fibre. Founded by Muhayo Alieva its mission is to provide economic opportunities for women while preserving Uzbekistan’s rich cultural and ethnographic heritage.”

Early on in the documentary we see the difficulties she has faced bringing a reinterpretation of Uzbek ikat to a modern audience, and how she has altered traditional patterns to suit her particular needs. We are also introduced to Rasuljon Mirzaahmedov, a fifth-generation ikat maker from Margilan – a famous centre of ikat production. In 2005 UNESCO awarded him a “Seal of Excellence” for his research into, and revitalisation of, the craft of velvet ikat weaving known as bakhmal. In fact 2005 was a very busy year for Rasuljon as that was also when he established the Khorezm Weaving centre in the old city of Khiva – a city which several OATG members have visited with Sheila Paine.  I was intrigued to see the machine they used for binding the bundles of 100 threads in his workshop in Margilan. Rasuljon demonstrated his expertise at the Textile Society of America Symposium in Washington DC in 2012 as part of a Central Asia panel organised by Christine Martens. He is a regular participant in the Santa Fe International Folk Art market.

Also in 2005 the fashion designer Oscar de la Renta used ikat cloths created by Rasuljon in his collection. The designer was clearly enamoured with these textiles, using them in many catwalk shows over a period of years. In this short video interview he speaks of his appreciation for the work that goes into creating ikat textiles and we can see some of his creations, including this stunning strapless dress.

Several of de la Renta’s pieces featured in the exhibition To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia, which was held at the Freer/Sackler from March to July last year. Some of the highlights of the exhibition can be viewed here. Just click on each image to see the enlarged versions.

Ikat trench coat. Oscar de la Renta 2005 collection. © Smithsonian

Curatorial assistant Christina Elliott describes the process of preparing these textiles for the exhibition here. It was interesting to read of their method of insect prevention and see what goes on behind the scenes of a textile exhibition.

Part of the To Dye For exhibition. © Smithsonian

Last July Muhayo Aliyeva gave a presentation on Contemporary Ikat Designs at the Freer/Sackler as part of the programme arranged around this exhibition.  The whole event was filmed and can be seen here. In it she talks about the history of ikat in Central Asia and then shows current production methods, including the design, dyeing and weaving of the cloth. The video clips she shows of the warping up are really interesting, especially when you realise they are coping with 3000 fine threads.

Threading the reed. © Muhayo Aliyeva.

Another major ikat exhibition opened a couple of weeks ago at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Entitled Power of Pattern: Central Asian Ikats from the David and Elizabeth Reisbord Collection it highlights over 60 examples of ikat textiles – including clothing and woven panels. I like the fact that they show several garments worn in layers on the mannequins. This does mean that it’s more difficult to focus on an individual piece, but it gives a more accurate picture of how they would have been worn in the past.

The organiser of this exhibition, Clarissa M. Esguerra, will be giving an exclusive lecture to members of the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMA/SC) on Saturday 2 March 2019 in the Brown Auditorium at LACMA. Email info@tmasc.org for more details on membership.

One of the most striking garments in the Oscar de la Renta collection was this ikat coat with a fur trim, designed for the 2000 Balmain Haute Couture collection. The coat is clearly made up from several different sections of ikat, particularly on the right front. The pattern of the ikat is very reminiscent of the ikat made in a very different area of Uzbekistan – Khorezm.

Many people are unaware of the ikat-producing tradition in the city of Khiva. The cloth here is known as adras. It has a silk ikat warp and a cotton weft, giving it a fine ribbed texture.This design with the central turquoise  stripe and alternating red and green horns was the most popular with the nearby Qaraqalpaqs on their kiymesheks and shapans.

 Khivan patterns were simplified versions of Bukharan designs. This is not surprising given that they were made by members of a small community of Jewish dyers who arrived in Khiva with their traditional Bukharan designs.For more information on this small centre of ikat production visit the website of OATG members David and Sue Richardson on the Qaraqalpaqs of the Aral Delta.