TAASA Review Issues

March 2001

Vol: 10 Issue: 1
Textile Study Group
Editor: Ann MacArthur

Cover Photo
Pendant with the Goddess Hariri, Punjab, possibly Taxila, Pakistan. Kushan period,  2nd Century CE. Gold repousse with garnets and pearls, diameter 4.8cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, Landan.

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Editorial

This edition of TAASA Review is a first – the first composed entirely of papers submitted by a focus group operating under the umbrella of TAASA. The authors are members of the Textile Study Group which is part of the Textile Focus Group initiated by current TAASA vice-president Judith Rutherford in 1994 to raise the profile of Asian textiles in the community. The Committee, chaired by Judith, comprised Anne Baker, Suzanne Chee, Gill Green, Ann Guild, Claire Roberts and Christina Sumner.

We each brought our own particular passion to the plans. Continuing the series of textile seminars was one. The first of these in early 1995 was ‘Textiles of Northeast Asia’ followed by ‘Textiles of the Lower Mekong’ in 1996, ‘Chinese Dress 1700s to Now’ in 1997, ‘Exploring Korean Textiles, Costume and Culture’ in 1998 – the latter two in conjunction with the Powerhouse Museum exhibitions – and ‘Silken Steppes: Textile Arts of Central Asia’, a highly successful joint  venture together with the Oriental Rug Society of NSW in 1999. Administrative systems instituted by Ann Guild early on for running the seminars have proved invaluable.

The Textile Study Group was launched by Anne Baker to promote serious textile study and research. Over the last six years some 20-30 committed members have me each month at the Powerhouse Museum. Initially, detailed ‘hands on and close up’ evenings with textiles and techniques were devised by Anne. In addition outside presenters were invited to lecture. In 1996 Dee Court took over the reins from Anne and individual and group researcl1 of self-generated topics has increasingly become the modus operandi. A diverse and fascinating range of member’s interests has been revealed based on their experiences in travel, business, academic studies and vocational training. The articles published in this edition are the outcome of their research and passion and, although not every research topic is included here, everyone has made a presentation at some time.

As a measure of our success in achieving our original objectives some members have also been invited to present lectures to like-minded groups abroad notably in the USA and England. Others have taken the opportunity to exhibit and curate their own private collections in conjunction with TAASA seminars. The first, ‘Silken Steppes’, was an exhibition of textiles and costumes from Central Asia held at the premises of Nomadic Rug Traders in Pyrmont, Sydney and Behruz Studios in Melbourne. The second, Sampot and Padaan: Traditional Cambodian Costumes and Religious Panels was held at the Liverpool Regional Museum to  coincide with the TAASA symposium ‘Lands of Gold Intra-regional Cultural Exchanges in Southeast Asia’. Both these events generated a great deal of public interest in the opportunity to experience aspects of those cultures not otherwise easily accessible.

Other members have presented selling exhibitions of textiles they collected on their trips abroad to regions diverse as central China, southwest China, west Africa, Syria and Bhutan. Textiles sourced this way allow not only personal and eclectic selections to be viewed but also experiences of their contemporary cultural contexts to be shared with others.

Another benefit of exhibitions of private collections is that they allow a greater degree of freedom for textiles to be displayed more accessibly and draped in more natural mode than institutions are often able to do. Extending this idea would it not be exciting if a National Textile Museum could be set up in Australia? This initiative should not cut across the custom of donating textiles to established museums and galleries as many textiles in private collections do not fulfil the criteria for institutional accession. Such a ‘home’ could be a fitting place for these very personal collections, in part or whole, to remain together and to form a coherent research and culh1ral resource for the public.

As Jenny Kee, noted Australian textile designer and collector, has said. ‘The weaving of cloth has served to pass on traditions and values from the past to the present – from one generation to the next. In the west our identity is expressed through our art and painting. In Asia identity is expressed through the art of weaving’. Gill Green and Dee Court, Co-convenors, Textile Study Group.

Table of contents

EDITORIAL – Gill Green and Dee Court

GOLD IN ASIA: GIFT-GIVING IN HINDU INDIA AND BUDDHIST SOUTHEAST ASIA – John Guy

TAPA – THE FABRIC OF THE PACIFIC – Joyce Burnard

10  MORE THAN JUST A SKIRT – THE SIN OF THE TAI PEOPLES OF LAOS – Gay Spies and Sheila Sippel

12  SYMBOLIC COLOUR AND PRIMORDIAL MOTIFS TRADITIONAL BHUTANESE TEXTILES – Alathea Vavasour

14  IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN ALBONG AND SAWAL: BILAAN WOMAN’S ABACA SHIRT AND BILAAN MAN’S TROUSERS – Christina Sumner

16  SISTER’S MEAL – A VISUAL FEAST – Sally Powell and Helen Perry

18  CLOTHING OF THE AINU, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF JAPAN. – Margaret Rock and Dee Court

19  A LONG THREAD – THE GIRDLE: ORIGINS AND CONTINUITIES – Mayo Harriss

20  TRADITIONAL COSTUME OF THE GEJIA OF GUIZHOU – Lenore Blackwood

22  REVIEWS AND PREVIEWS

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON – Heleanor Feltham

WAVES OF INFLUENCE: MONET & JAPAN – Gary Hickey

DRAWING SPACE: CONTEMPORARY INDIAN DRAWING – Victoria Lynn

23  MEMBERS DIARY

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