A couple of reminders and some new textile events happening soon!

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First a final reminder of the next OATG talk, which takes place this Thursday 21 October. Members Chris Buckley and Sandra Sardjono of the Tracing Patterns Foundation will give an online talk on the subject of Fiber Arts from Papua.

Young girl in a Dani village. © Tracing Patterns Foundation

“The Dani people of the Baliem Valley in Papua possess no looms, but fiber forms an essential part of their lives, so much so that the explorer Karl Heider called theirs a ‘culture of string’. “ – Tracing Patterns Foundation.

Tracing Patterns Foundation is currently cataloguing and conserving a huge number of Dani items, collected by the late Dr O W Hampton in the 1980s. Chris and Sandra will discuss how techniques such as plaiting and knotless netting were used to produce a wide variety of objects. “Large head-nets were important items of dress for women, as well as practical carrying containers. Some of the most interesting and unusual artifacts are stone tools and sacred objects, bound with fibres, feathers from birds of paradise, and other materials. “

This talk will take place at 18:30 BST and those who have registered will already have received their Zoom link. If you do still wish to attend please register as soon as possible. Registration is also open for non-members for a small (£3) donation. This should be a fascinating talk so do join us!

Cybele Tom sharing her work on the Seated Guanyin, Song Dynasty (960-1279)

On Saturday 23 October there will be a Zoom talk hosted by one of the Textile Society of America Affinity Groups, Textiles x Science. Four conservators will share highlights of their work. “Few people get to engage with works of art directly, yet this is a key feature and privilege of conservation work. Through close looking, intimate interaction, consultation, collaboration, and scientific analysis, conservators and scientists piece together the evidence of what remains to give insight into an object’s complex narrative.” – TSA website

This talk will begin at 13:00 EDT, which is 18:00 BST. Please email for the Zoom link to what sounds like a fascinating talk.

Three generations of Qashqa’i women. Photo courtesy of Vedat Karadag.

Also taking place on Saturday 23 October is another of the regular series of Rug and Textile Appreciation mornings, hosted by the Textile Museum. The speaker this time will be Vedat Karadag and his subject is Traveling the Textile Lands of Greater Anatolia, Persia, Central Asia and Beyond. For the past four decades Vedat has been involved with textiles, both as a dealer and leading cultural and textile-oriented trips. In this virtual talk Vedat will share some of the highlights of his textile travels. More information can be found here. Click on this link to register for this event which begins at 11:00 EDT, which is 16:00 BST.

The most recent edition of our Asian Textiles journal contained an article by Georges Breguet and Gaspard de Marval on Alfred Steinmann and the Ship Motif. This provided an excellent overview of the work of Steinmann, as well as a review of the current exhibition on the subject at the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich.

On Sunday 24 October the Washington-based International Hajji Baba Society will host a programme on Steinmann’s research into the use of the ship motif in Indonesia.

“For many centuries, the people of southern Sumatra saw themselves as living on a ship floating between the sea and the heavens. This idea was woven into fascinating textiles featuring elaborate depictions of ships carrying humans and animal-like beings. These ship cloths were used in ceremonial and ritual contexts. 

Alfred Steinmann, one of the former directors of the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich, was one of the first scientists to study these textiles in depth and to try to interpret them. In several writings that appeared from 1937 to the 1960s, he examined the ship’s motif from a cultural and historical perspective, from the Bronze Age to the present day. He interpreted the elaborately patterned ship cloths as depictions of the passage of dead souls into a land of ancestors. Although later researchers added other layers of interpretation to Steinmann’s, to this day his contribution remains essential for understanding these textiles. “ – IHBS website.

This programme will involve not only a PowerPoint presentation by Paola von Wyss-Giacosa and Andreas Isler, but also a virtual guided tour of the Zurich exhibition – a real treat! Please note that spaces for this virtual event are limited and are filling fast so register now. A catalogue to accompany the exhibition is also now available (German text).

Chair Cover with Crane Design, Chinese, 17th century Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Silk tapestry (kesi) woven with silk and metallic threads, Overall: 20 3/8 x 63 3/4 in. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, 59-18/5.

On Saturday 30 October the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California will host a Zoom programme looking at some of the textiles featured in the  current exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Weaving Splendor: Treasures of Asian Textiles opened in late September and runs until 6 March 2022. “For the first time in decades, rarely seen Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Persian, and Turkish clothing and textiles from the collection of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art are assembled for an extraordinary exhibition. Made with fine materials, exemplary techniques, and superb artistry, Asian luxury textiles were prized domestically and were central to global trade.” – museum website

One Hundred Cranes Imperial Robe, Chinese, Late 17th-early 18th century Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). Embroidered damask, 91 × 57 7/8 in. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 35-275.

Covering the highlights of the exhibition from the 1500s to today, this talk will include two outstanding and historically important classical Persian carpets; velvet tent hunting fragments and some Kashmir shawls and hangings; several Chinese court robes and interior furnishings; and Japanese theatre robes and Meiji-era tapestries. The Zoom talk begins at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST and is free, but registration is required.

A selection of textile events and articles

I’m starting this blog with one of the oldest textiles I have ever blogged about – a thirteenth century tunic from Lebanon.

Before conservation. © Abegg-Stiftung

The Abegg-Stiftung in Switzerland is committed to the collection, conservation and study of historical textiles. They have “been studying and conserving a group of archaeological textiles from Lebanon for several years now. The garments and accessories dating from the thirteenth century were found during excavations in the Assi el-Hadath cave in the Qadisha Valley between 1988 and 1993. Thanks to the dry climate there they are well preserved and are now prized as unique testimony to the clothes worn by a rural population during the Middle Ages. They tell us how carefully cloth was handled in those days and how even small pieces of fabric were made up into garments, which were then decorated and repaired as needed.“ – Abegg-Stiftung website

After conservation. © Abegg-Stiftung

Jelena Miloradić studied and conserved this child’s garment as part of her MA in Conservation-Restoration. A general overview of this work can be viewed here. I recommend using the magnification view to see how cleverly the netting has been used to support this textile.

Those interested in more detailed information about how this textile was conserved can find it here.

A basket from crin.

On Thursday 23 September the Embassy of Chile, Washington, will be hosting a Zoom workshop entitled Crin From Chile. Crin is horsehair weaving and “this colorful art form has its roots in a 200-year-old tradition from the city of Rari, located 310 kilometers south of Santiago, Chile.” – Textile Museum website.

Learn more about this traditional craft from Luciana Pérez of the Fundación de Artesanías de Chile, Jimena Asenjo from the Museum of Arts and Crafts of Linares and an artist from Rari. This event takes place at 11:00 Eastern Time (16:00 BST) and is free, but you do need to register.

One of the auction lots. © T W Gaze

Also on 23 September there will be an auction of vintage fabrics at Diss. This includes some Asian and African textiles, which might be of interest to some members. Thanks to Nick Fielding for informing me of this. Here is a link to the online catalogue.

One Hundred Cranes Imperial Robe Chinese, late 17th-early 18th century Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). Embroidered damask. © Nelson-Atkins Museum

On Saturday 25 September a new exhibition Weaving Splendor: Treasures of Asian Textiles opens at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City – thanks to our friends at ClothRoads for this information. Exhibits will include Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Persian textiles.

“The exhibition traces the journeys of key works of art and the people who owned them and carried them across the world. Luxurious costumes of the court performed power, while striking theater robes brought stage characters to life. Sturdy wall hangings and furniture covers transformed palaces, temples, and homes, while shimmering tapestry-woven carpets were created as diplomatic gifts for foreign rulers.“ – museum website.

Also taking place on 25 September is the opening of a new exhibition at the Penn Museum, Philadelphia, entitled The Stories We Wear. “The clothing, accessories, and decorations we put on our bodies tell stories about who we are. They shape how others see us and how we see ourselves. What we wear can prepare us for important events or transform us into someone new. It may follow tradition or a recent trend. And it can show that we belong or help us stand out. Now and in the ancient past, close to home and far away, the stories we wear connect us. Showcasing 2,500 years of style and adornment through approximately 250 remarkable objects, The Stories We Wear reveals how clothing and accessories offer powerful expressions of identity—examining the purpose and meaning behind what we wear.” – Penn Museum.

On the same day the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California will host a talk by Dr Anne Tiballi of the Penn Museum entitled Threads and Themes of The Stories We Wear. Dr Tiballi was a consultant for the exhibition and in this talk she will “dig deep into several of the exhibitions ‘outfits’, making connections between the technological skill, creativity, and cultural significance of the peoples who made and wore them.  ….. the items she will discuss include a Pre-Columbian Andean warp-patterned tunic, headband, and bag; a Qing Dynasty Chinese court costume; and early 20th century coconut fibre armour from Kiribati, a Mongolian silk deel and boots, and a Hopi wedding dress.” – TMASC

This free talk begins at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST. Please click here to register.

A reminder that the new exhibition Gold of the Great Steppe opens at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge next week. The Saka culture of Central Asia, flourished 2,500 years ago. This exhibition will present artefacts from the extraordinary burial mounds (kurgans) of the Saka people of East Kazakhstan. Several hundred gold items will be on display, including jewellery and horse harness decorations. What does this have to do with textiles you may ask? Special items of clothing were sometimes decorated with small gold embossed plaques, some of which will be on display.

A curator’s introduction to the exhibition will take place online next Wednesday 29 September at 13:15 BST. You can register for tickets here.

A robe from The Spirit Wraps Around You exhibition

Finally I would like to recommend a blog just published by Catherine Tutter entitled Dance of the Raven’s Tail, Part III.

In it she describes her experience of seeing the ‘Sky’ robe created by Evelyn Vanderhoop of the Haida Nation. It is shown next to a tunic created by Evelyn’s mother, Dolores Churchill. Catherine also includes links to a couple of videos by Evelyn, which are well worth watching. Evelyn and Dolores were also heavily involved with the exhibition The Spirit Wraps Around You, which I have blogged about several times this year. A reminder that a video tour of the exhibition can be accessed here.