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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Māori Cloaks, Māori Voices

 When the ancestors of the Māori people sailed to Aotearoa (New Zealand) roughly nine hundred years ago, they became the first Polynesians to settle a land outside the tropics. Previous generations of Polynesians had little need for clothing and made thin beaten barkcloth more for ceremonial purposes than for warmth. In Aotearoa, Māori women abandoned making barkcloth and turned instead to the harakeke plant (New Zealand flax), developing new techniques to twine its fibers into garments by hand, without benefit of a loom. The finest cloaks, including some covered with stunning, iridescent feather work, transcended practical needs and became treasured markers of prestige. This exhibition features thirteen rare and beautiful nineteenth- and early-twentieth century cloaks, shown publicly for the first time since their arrival in Los Angeles in 1965 as part of a transformational gift to the Museum from the Wellcome Ethnological Collection in London.

The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth:  Ancient Threads/New Directions

The tradition of weaving textiles with four finished edges—selvages—characterizes the creative process of the ancient weavers of Peru, known for their mastery of color, technique, and design. Without cutting a thread, each textile was woven to be what it was intended, whether a daily garment, royal mantle, or ritual cloth. This approach to weaving required the highest level of skill—even for the simplest of plain undecorated cloth—and reflects a cultural value in the integrity of cloth, not only in its design and function but in the way in which it was made.  This exhibition highlights selections from the Fowler Museum’s noteworthy collection of Precolumbian textiles and includes masterworks that demonstrate the high level of artistic achievement of Peruvian weavers, ranging from the ancient ritual textiles from the early Chavin and Paracas cultures (500–100 B.C.E.) to the extraordinary garments of the Inca empire (1485–1532).


Fowler Museum Senior Curator of Textiles Roy Hamilton will lead a gallery tour of these two exhibitions exclusively for TMA/SC.  We will also view the Fowler at 50/Fiftieth Anniversary Gifts:





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