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John Gillow

Author, Lecturer, Traveler, Collector and Dealer, UK

The manufacture and trade in textiles is integral to the Muslim way of life, from the very beginnings of Islam up until the present day.  The ingenuity of these artisans of the Muslim world were and remain the envy of the world.  John Gillow will give a broad survey of the textiles produced today and in the past in the Islamic world, putting them in their social and historical context.  He will cover not only what are considered to be the classic textiles of Turkey, Persia, Central Asia and India, but the lesser known out-posts of the Muslim world: North Africa, particularly those of Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, the Balkans, particularly Albania, Syria, Palestine and Iraq, South Arabia, Afghanistan, Indonesia and the Philippines and Sub-Saharan Africa. In short everywhere where Muslims are the majority or found in substantial numbers. There is a commonality of styles of dress right across this world dictated by requirements of Muslim modesty, but as to be expected, great differences due to climate and varying cultural history. Islam does not exist in a cultural vacuum, and it is rare that it has not co-existed with adherents of other religions. Christian, Jewish and Hindu textile practitioners have in many places helped to produce costume and furnishings that we consider to be exclusively Muslim.

John Gillow, author, lecturer, traveller, collector, and textile dealer, has spent more than 40 years in the Islamic World. The fruits of his research are encapsulated in his latest book, "Textiles of the Islamic World," published by Thames and Hudson.  In addition, John’s publications include “African Textiles: Color and Creativity Across a Continent,” “Indian Textiles (Revised and Expanded Edition),”World Textiles: A Visual Guide to Traditional Techniques,” and “Traditional Indonesian Textiles,” and more.  John has been a dynamic and popular past speaker at TMA/SC on African textiles, and embroidered textiles of the Sindh Desert, and invites members of TMA/SC to bring one example of a textile or rug from an Islamic country (as noted above) to share at the program.



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