NY Historical Society Exhibit Explores Exotic Oriental Rugs And Textiles
"Woven Splendor" will feature more than 100 objects belonging to current and past Hajji Baba Club members, as well as those currently in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Textile Museum of Washington, D.C., and other public institutions. Textiles in the exhibition originate from China and Southeast Asia, through India, Tibet, Central Asia, and the Islamic Near East, to Africa and Moorish Spain, and include costumes, tapestries, carpets, rugs and decorative pieces crafted between the Fifteenth and Twentieth Centuries.
"Woven Splendor" takes a groundbreaking approach by highlighting the diverse functions of carpets and textiles. The study of the function and complex iconography of these colorful woven articles offers a revealing window into the lives, beliefs and events that have shaped the cultures of the peoples within these regions.
Instructional sections throughout the exhibition also explore how rugs were produced in their countries of origin. The exhibition also chronicles the history of Hajji Baba Club, while examining the history of the Oriental rug in New York and how Western understanding of this kind of textile has changed over the years.
"Woven Splendor" is curated by Dr Jon Thompson, author and director of the Beattie Carpet Archive, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. He is an authority on carpets and textiles of the Islamic world and, with Thomas J. Farnham, has produced a companion catalog to the exhibition titled Timbuktu to Tibet; Exotic Rugs and Textiles from New York Collectors (Hali Publications Limited, London).
A companion installation, "Orientalism in New York," serves as a prelude to "Woven Splendor," providing historical context by examining the fashion for Orientalism in New York during the late Nineteenth Century. Through paintings, prints, photographs and books, as well as silver, lighting, and metalwork — most from the historical society's collections — the exhibit explores New Yorkers' fascination with the "Orient."
The New-York Historical Society is at 170 Central Park West, between 76 and 77th Streets. For information, www.nyhistory.org or 212-873-3400.