TRC Blog: Textile Moments

An unexpected visit to the TRC of two Japanese ladies

Today, we had one of those moments at the TRC. Two Japanese ladies in kimono came to see our weaving exhibition. One of the ladies had been before, and this time she brought a friend. They live in the Leiden region, and love any excuse to wearing their unique garments. Coming to the TRC was a special moment for them, and a Textile Moment for us. They looked wonderful ! I learned a lot about kimonos from them, especially the difference between the kimono's crest (at the kimono's back) of the husband's family, and that of the wife's.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 9 September 2014

Two Japanese ladies in kimono at the TRC, September 9th 2014

Two Japanese ladies in kimono at the TRC, September 9th 2014

 

   

A Mongolian Buddhist monastery

The Amarbayasgalant monastery, northern Mongolia. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang, August 2014

The Amarbayasgalant monastery, northern Mongolia. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang, August 2014

Well, I am back in Holland, but only a few days ago I had the chance to visit a Buddhist monastery in the north of Mongolia. It is the Amarbayasgalant khiid (monastery), in Selenge Province. It was founded in the early 18th century, and to some degree survived the destruction of almost all Buddhist centres in the Stalinist era. What I particularly liked were the many prayer flags hung along ropes between the various pinnacles of the buildings, a very Tibetan spectacle! And then there were the blue khatags, or prayer scarves, that were attached everywhere. The Tibetan prayer scarves are generally white, and seem to be used differently. Here in Mongolia they are attached to trees, cairns, stakes, stupas, etc. You see them everywhere. In fact, I was graciously presented with one at the end of the conference we had organised (now of course being absorbed into the TRC collection). They are generally blue, and are of course very reminiscent of comparable pieces of textiles that pilgrims in many countries leave behind. I know the custom so well from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India, but there they are used to confirm certain wishes, as for instance by women who pray for children. In Mongolia the blue khatags represent heaven and the blue skies of Mongolia (see the photograph), and thus seem to reflect the old shamanistic belief system of Tengri ('heaven'). Perhaps a new research area for the TRC: the use of textiles in religious rituals?

Willem Vogelsang, 16 August 2014

Blue prayer scarves attached to the Amarbayasgalant Khiid (Buddhist monastery), northern Mongolia. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang, August 2014.

Blue prayer scarves attached to the Amarbayasgalant Khiid (Buddhist monastery), northern Mongolia. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang, August 2014.

   

National Museum of Mongolia

Dress exhibit at the National Museum of Mongolia. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang

Dress exhibit at the National Museum of Mongolia. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang

Last week, while in Ulaanbaatar, I had the chance to visit the beautiful National Museum of Mongolia, which not only has a fascinating display of archaeological finds from the area, but also an exquisite gallery showing the richness of sartorial traditions in the country. Well represented, with texts in English and Mongolian, the exhibition gives an idea of the enormous variety of local dress traditions, for both men and women. Really worth seeing is also the showcase with headdresses and others with other accessories.

To date I did not have the chance to see another dress museum, namely the Museum of Mongolian Costumes, which is located nearby, and which I hope to visit in the near future. I do include the web address though (click here), in case any of the visitors of the TRC site ever visits Mongolia. The director of the Museum however is now in (digital) contact with the TRC, after my meeting a relative of hers at a conference here in the city. It is a small world. The next few days I will be visiting some friends in the north of the country, and I will keep my eyes open for any remarkable garments !

Willem Vogelsang, 10 August 2014

   

Shelley Anderson at the Musée de Cluny, Paris

One of the six Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, Musée de Cluny, Paris

One of the six Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, Musée de Cluny, Paris

TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson's Textile Moment was in Paris, France, at the Musée de Cluny: "There are so many beautiful objects in this museum of medieval art. But nothing can compare with the six The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. Woven around 1500, the colours are vibrant and the 'millefleur' background stunning. There are over 30 shades and colours in the tapestries - some of the tiny pansies include five shades alone. The tapestries are mainly dyed wool, with silk used to highlight the ladies' hair and elaborate gowns. There are many other interesting textiles in the museum, including shrouds, altar cloth and other tapestries. But The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries really take you into another world."

14 July 2014

   

Museum of Greek Folk Art, Athens

We visited the Greek Folk Art Museum, Athens, this morning and spent a pleasant few hours looking at their exhibitions relating to the production of textiles (spinning equipment, including spindles and distaffs), metal work (with an emphasis on jewellery and swords), as well as their extensive collection of regional costumes and embroideries.

Throughout the museum great care has been taken in the presentation of the objects and in providing adequate information (in Greek and English). There are numerous photographs illustrating how the garments and jewellery were worn. Interesting details are being explained, such as the role in society of the first borns on the island of Karpathos. Both the first male and female children had a very different life, with different clothing, jewellery and expectations than their younger siblings.

The embroidery gallery is divided according to region rather than, for example, technique, and the main styles are clearly indicated. In addition, the use of embroidery for household furnishings, including beds, curtains, cushions and so forth are described and illustrated with some amazing examples. There was no information about the specific techniques used for the various styles, but there are books (all in Greek) on sale in the small shop that cover these aspects.

The museum is in the old quarter near the Acropolis and it is not easy to find, especially as it has been divided into various buildings in the same neighbourhood - so, the Greek pottery museum is housed in a nearby buliding that was originally a mosque. But it is well worth the effort to find the costume and embroidery museum and enjoy the display and friendliness of the staff.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 13 July 2014

   

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Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428   info@trc-leiden.nl

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
 
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