May 16, 2015


Not All Textiles Are Created Equal-Who Do I Love?

When you are surrounded with gorgeous textiles from all around the world, I guess it is just natural. You pick favorites. I must admit I’m pretty fickle however. My favorites change fairly often. This month I can’t get enough of Indian Phulkari, last month I was crazy for the bright embroidered huipils from Guatemala.
Luckily, none of us have to choose. We can appreciate them all, or at least the ones we love right now.
  1. Ikat from Uzbekistan. I saw a show at the Textile Museum in Washington DC about Uzbek Ikat, a complex version of this complex method. Of course I fell in love.
  2. Corte from Guatemala. Corte are the long pieces of woven fabric that the Maya use for skirts, each village having some identifying motifs. Because they don’t add pleats or darts or hems, these corte are pristine examples of the superb weaving of Guatemala.
  3. Anything Indigo. Japan, England, Thailand, India, South Africa, West Africa, even Mali create indigo cloth. I once bought a scarf right off a Blue Man from Timbuktu. That is one piece of indigo that is not for sale!
  4. Hmong reverse appliqué and embroidery. It is hard to keep your artistic traditions when you are being pursued in mountainous forests by people who want to kill you. But the Hmong people survived and their handwork has thrived. Lucky for the rest of us.
  5. Anatolian carpets. Whether they are knotted or flat woven or embroidered or all three techniques, the tribal rugs of Turkey are things of beauty.
  6. Quilts: antique, modern and in between. Whether it’s the geometric pattern of a Log Cabin quilt or the carefree stitching on an Indian kantha, quilts are a singular expression of the creators’ ability.
  7. Mud cloth from Mali. It may look primitive yet modern, but the process to make mud cloth involves many steps and the sensibilities of a true artist.
  8. Indian phulkari. Phulkari cloths are so much a part of the culture of the Punjab region of India, the Indian government has made it the sole location these embroideries can be made. Phul means flower and kari means craft. Although I have never seen a phulkari with flowers embroidered on it, history tells us there were such. Made for a bride’s trousseau, the number of phulkaris indicated the wealth of the family.
  9. Otomi cloth from Mexico. They is no way you can look at a piece of Otomi cloth and not smile. The colors run the whole gamut, from bright multi-colors to white on white. There are pieces big enough to cover a king sized bed and small enough to make a decorative pillow. The fantastical creatures embroidered on them make you smile again and again.
  10. These bold and beautiful textiles had a hey-day a few years ago. They were in all the home décor magazines and name brand decorators’ showcases. Now the real collectors grab them up. Suzani are embroidered cloths made primarily in the middle Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Like Phulkari, they are also a precious part of a wedding day.

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