Wednesday, August 04, 2010

newly chic, they gather

In eras past, textile collectors were a musty bunch. Murmuring of wefts and weaves, brandishing Naga marriage cloths and fingering thready Coptic fragments they'd an air of the library carrels about them, and gone-thither look in their eye.

Their official meeting place (when not burrowing in the backrooms of textile dealers, Damascus to La Paz) was the Textile Museum in Washington DC.

In the past few years, their citadel's been stormed.

Central Asia's textiles - the ubiquitous suzanis and ikats - have trickled down so far that their bold patterns currently appear in Pottery Barn bed spreads, the ragged edges of the ikat showing up in Forever 21 t's.

Good for business? Good for the world? For Central Asia's weavers and dyers and the women of the households for whom suzani's were a life's work and legacy? Hmmm - why not but no, unlikely.

This fall the Textile Museum's hosting a symposium: Tying the Rainbow, Reexamining Central Asian Ikats. This is awesome and a sure crowd-pleaser. I'd love to go to lecture:
At the crossroads of Eurasia: The Changing Central Asian City and Textile Producton in the 19th Century and dream Marco Polo dreams of Samarkand and Bhukara in a darkened theatre. I won't, oh well.

But I will be wondering this October, what sort of crowd has gathered to celebrate the now-ubiquitous textile and whether the textiler-s of ages past will present a nattier front to the newly-intrigued world at their gates.

Warp, weft and weaving-ho.

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