Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wasp-waisted in headdresses


Mrs. Arthur Henry Paget (1853-1919), 1891 (Costume of Cleopatra originally worn to 1875 Delmonico Ball, NYC)

Two shows at The NY Historical Society running til mid-August.
ALLURE OF THE EAST: ORIENTALISM IN NEW YORK, 1850–1930
to inform and introduce some of the collectors, and the city scene that inspired the main exhibition: WOVEN SPLENDOR FROM TIMBUKTU TO TIBET: EXOTIC RUGS AND TEXTILES FROM NEW YORK COLLECTORS


Tajik Bridal Veil, 18th Cen.
Besides being beyond bling, what's intriguing (to me) is this piece contrasted with our NY lady above. The bridal veil has a small mesh cut-out in the upper part of the veil, for the bride's eyes. Otherwise, she would be - I imagine - a visually vibrant but otherwise silent spectator at her own wedding. Her voice, I guess, the piece itself which she would have helped to design and create - a visual roar of pink peacocks.

And we contrast to Mrs. Paget doing the Eastern Lady thing, NYC late 19th century style. Imagine if the lady had actually gone native? Emerged from her carriage the night of the ball just a visually stunning but shape-indeterminate Tajik lady, for the night...


The show's pieces are stunning - ikats, Bakhtiarian camel bags, Turkmen camel knee-covers, Geija baby carriers, Ottoman silks, Tibetan Tiger Pelt rugs, Persian horse covers, prayer rugs from wherever there's not enough room on the mosque floor, Uzbek felt mats, Ikat chapan robes. Riotous colors from sand-colored lands, magnificent patterns punctuated with intimate little pattern "riffs" of the lady weaver - a section of abstraction amidst the historically-informed larger piece, a woman's signature.

c - not dressed as Tajik bride, not today

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