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Phipps, Elena: The Peruvian Four-Selvadged Cloth

PHIPPS, Elena (2013). The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth: Ancient Threads, New Directions, Los Angeles, Fowler Museum Textile Series, No. 12. ISBN: 978-0984755059, softback, 96 pp., notes, bibliography. Price: US$ 26.98

A book accompanying an exhibition with the same name that was held at the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, from October 2013 – February 2014.

The exhibition concerned a particular type of cloth that has four, rather than the normal two selvedges. It examines this particular form of tapestry weaving (often using a split tapestry form), which can be traced back for hundreds of years in pre-Columbian Peru. It is particularly associated wieth the Chancay (11th-15th centuries) and Wari (6th-11th centuries) cultures. This technique was used for items of clothing as well as for household goods. The end results were often spectacular examples of the technical and visual skills of the weavers.

A twist in the story comes with the author, Elena Phipps, teaming up with contemporary textile artists, namely James Bassler, John Cohen and Sheil Hicks, to create modern textile art based on this ancient technique. Some of the results are spectacular, others are much more subtle, but it is a good example of how inspiration can be drawn from contemplating, examining and learning from older pieces.

Recommendation: In the first place this is a book for those interested in the history and technical skills of South American and Peruvian textiles in particular. But the added dimension of the modern textile artists means that it should also appeal to those working within and alongside the field of Textile Art. Well worth looking at and reading in a quiet moment at home.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

 

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