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TAASA Review

TAASA Review, the journal of the The Asian Art Society of Australia, is published quarterly in March, June, September and December each year. TAASA Review is 32 pages presented in full colour throughout and is distributed to members of The Asian Arts Society of Australia Inc. TAASA Review welcomes submissions of articles, notes and reviews on Asian visual and performing arts. All articles are refereed. Additional copies and subscription to theTAASA Review are available on request.

A basic Index to all back issues of TAASA Review since 1992 is available from this website.  You can search for items of interest in past TAASA Reviews by clicking on the ‘TAASA Review Index’ link at left.  Detailed information on the Contents of issues back to 2004 is also available (see left).

Copies of most past issues of the TAASA Review are available for purchase by contacting the editor at: editorial@taasa.org.au. Articles are not currently available in electronic form.

Editor: Josefa Green

Publications Committee: Josefa Green (convenor) • Tina Burge • Melanie Eastburn • Sandra Forbes • Charlotte Galloway • William Gourlay • Marianne Hulsbosch • Jim Masselos • Ann Proctor • Sabrina Snow • Christina Sumner

Design/Layout: Ingo Voss, VossDesign

Printing: John Fisher Printing

Email: editorial@taasa.org.au

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TAASA Review


Volume 23 No3 September 2014

Cover image: Tube-skirt (sinh) (detail) from Muang Hun, Pudomxai Province, northwest Laos, Late 19th C. © Gay Spies, image courtesy of Caroline Whitley, see p27.

TAASA cover

Contents

3 EDITORIAL: CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF TEXTILE STUDY
Marianne Hulsbosch, Guest Editor

4 TRANSLATING TEXTILES: POETRY, PROFIT AND POLITICS IN THE IMAGERYOF THE WOVEN ART OF ASIA
Susan Scollay

7 TEXTILES IN THE SYMBOLIC UNIVERSE OF BALI
Siobhan Campbell

10 FROM PINECONE TO PAISLEY: THE UBIQUITOUS BOTEH
Christina Sumner

13 VEILS OF CHANGE – RABARI WEDDING SHAWLS
Carole Douglas

16 A FINE POSSESSION: JEWELLERY AND IDENTITY - ASIAN BODY ADORNMENT AT THE POWERHOUSE MUSEUM
Min-Jung Kim and Christina Sumner

18 IN CONVERSATION : ASIAN CULTURAL ORIGINS IN THE TEXTILE WORK OF RUTH HADLOW AND WENDY LUGG
Belinda von Mengersen

22 CALLIGRAPHIC BATIK CLOTHS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: MEANING BEHIND THE WORDS
Margaret White

24 RALLI QUILTS : EXPRESSIONS OF CULTURAL & INDIVIDUAL IDENTITY
Sarah E. Tucker

26 RESEARCHING IN THE FIELD – THE SRI KSETRA MUSEUM, PYAY, MYANMAR
Charlotte Galloway

27 COLLECTOR’S CHOICE: A MUANG HUN TEXTILE FROM NORTHWEST LAOS
Gay Spies

28 BOOK REVIEW: POINTY SHOES AND PITH HELMETS
Gill Green

29 TAASA’S AGM & INAUGURAL TAASA ORATION
Sandra Forbes

30 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES

33 TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY: SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2014

34 WHAT ’S ON: SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2014
Compiled by Tina Burge

Editorial

Marianne Hulsbosch, Guest Editor

Textiles literally weave a thread throughout everyone’s lives: it is the first material one comes in contact with shortly after birth, and it acts as a final shroud when one leaves this earth. Textiles sooth, protect, shelter and identify you. No wonder then that the mere mention of textiles conjures up a lot of passion amongst TAASA members.

Shortly after the inauguration of TAASA the idea of a special textile focus group was proposed by Judith Rutherford. A call to arms quickly resulted in the very first meeting in 1994. Ann Baker’s suggestion to set up a rigorous Study Group that expected members to be highly committed to researching and promoting all aspects of Asian textiles was enthusiastically adopted.

Thus the TAASA Textile Study Group (TSG) was born and in itself can be considered as a textile: a vibrant patchwork encompassing hands-on experience, analysis of textile objects, reviews of artists, exhibitions, publications, and the like. The TSG has become stronger than ever thanks to a committed, active core of people, some of them foundation members. Publishing a dedicated textile issue on this, the 20th anniversary of the TSG was an opportunity not to be missed.

This issue then, acts simultaneously as a celebration of Asian textiles and as recognition of, and dedication to all those people who have so generously offered their time, expertise, knowledge and general support to keep all aspects of textiles firmly in the spotlight. As part of this celebration, a Textile Symposium was held on 19 July at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. The first three articles in this issue present summaries of the papers presented at the symposium.

Susan Scollay opened with a keynote address which focused on the cross-cultural influences of symbols and imagery transmitted through textiles, in particular woven textiles. She explores how specific designs, colours and textile items were successfully exploited to identify and visually enhance political and socio-economic power.

This was followed by Siobhan Campbell, a scholar whose research is firmly located in Balinese material culture. Her article examines how symbolism found on Balinese woven, embroidered and painted cloths continues to play a vital role in contemporary Balinese cultural and ritual life as a means of storytelling and articulating Balinese worldviews.

Rounding off the symposium, Christina Sumner, a longstanding member of the TSG, explored the history of the boteh (paisley) motif. She presents us with a chronological trajectory of this universally recognised design, giving us a better understanding of the impact it had, and continuous to have, on modern-day textiles.

The use of graphic symbols on cloth is further examined by Margaret White in her article, which investigates the use of Arabic calligraphy on batik cloths of Southeast Asia. This is a welcome enquiry, as it appears this area is a little neglected in modern day scholarly pursuits.

Both Carole Douglas and Sarah Tucker reflect on personal experiences prompted by specific textile pieces. Carole vividly recalls her conversation with Rabari women in the village of Bhujodi, Gujarat, who are still producing the famed ludi (wedding shawl). In light of rapid industrialisation, access to technology and economic prosperity she wonders what the future holds for the women and their textiles traditions. Sarah’s memories of living as a young girl in the Baluchistan region of Pakistan were jolted by the sight of a well-used and worn ralli (quilt) from Thatta, Sindh. Like Carole, she recognises the ongoing resourcefulness and creativity of the women who make them today.

Belinda von Mengersen approaches Asian textiles from a very different perspective, providing us with a rare glimpse into creative textile practice in her examination of the work of two prominent contemporary artists, Ruth Hadlow and Wendy Lugg. She describes the dialogue between their initial inspiration - West Timor’s woven textiles (Hadlow) and Japanese hand-stitched Boro (Lugg) – and their subsequent artistic response.

Gay Spies invites us to sample her favourite piece, an exquisite Muang Hun tube-skirt, produced for Khmu shamans who were living in northwest Laos. Min-Jung Kim tempts us with a preview of a major jewellery exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney starting in September. Whilst Charlotte Galloway reminds us of the importance of cataloguing museum artefacts as she informs us of her ongoing work in the Sri Ksetra Museum in Myanmar.

We trust you enjoy this special issue of the TAASA Review.

This issue also provides a summary on p29 of the TAASA AGM held in May. We would like to thank outgoing members of the TAASA Management Committee for their contribution and welcome our new members, who are listed on this page.

 Pat-tala and beaters, Burma, 1875-1925.

Detail of textile (kalaga) Burma 1990-1925

Man’s silver bangle, Akha, Laos, 1900-1994

 

Detail of ceremonial cloth (pua) Iban, Sarawak c.1945-1965.

Gift of Alastair Morrison, 1994

Collection Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

© 2003 The Asian Arts Society of Australia. All rights reserved.