Object of the Week

Check back each week to see new objects from our permanent collection!

Week 22: November 12-18, 2017

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Jumlo, T87.0143

In honour of Button Day, a very real holiday, our Object of the Week is a garment from Pakistan called a jumlo, made in the 1950s. The jumlo was one of the most lavishly embroidered and embellished garments in South Asia, and worn by Muslim women in Indus Kohistan. This North Western region of Pakistan has long been a trading hub, with people coming from modern-day Afghanistan, central Asia, and Northern India to buy and sell goods. The jumlo, worn with full trousers (shalwar) and an embroidered shawl (chuprai), was often embellished with trade items like coins, buttons, even key chains and old zippers. The addition of these embellishments was perhaps as a testament to the wealth and connectedness of the wearer, and a way to signify ones individual status and style.

There are three main parts to a jumlo: the bodice, the sleeves, and the large skirt. It is usually made with black cotton, and the fabric is cut and pieced together on a mannequin. Their bodices and sleeves are heavily decorated - this dress is decorated with plastic buttons, applied metal, beads, and coins.

Their voluminous skirts are hand sewn together, and made with hundreds of triangular gores (insets or godets). Each jumlo could take months to complete, and required a great deal of effort and skill.

Week 21: November 5-11, 2017

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Mezzaro, T94.0208

Our Object of the Week is a mezzaro, made in Italy between 1800-1850. A mezzaro is a large veil (this one is 259 cm x 248 cm, over 8 feet in length and width) worn by women in Italy to cover their head and shoulders, and sometimes their face and clothes. This one has been damaged in the centre from being folded in half over the wearer’s head and secured with a sharp-toothed comb. Patches of the same cloth were used to repair the cloth.

From the appearance of mezzari in the 13th century until the late 17th century, they were quite plain, but in the late 1600s, an Armenian-born, Genoa-based businessman received permission from Genoa’s city fathers to print mezzari with elaborate designs drawn from Indian and Persian sources, especially Indian palampores. Imagery included flowery centres, paisley borders, and animals like monkeys, elephants, and lions. In 1787, Swiss brothers Giovanni and Michele Speich began printing mezzari with European-inspired design elements: mountain peaks, forests, tulips, carnations, and animals like cows, sheep and rabbits. It could take up to 80 hand-carved wooden blocks to decorate a mezzaro.

In an 1841 book called Sketches of Italy, Mrs. Anna Jameson praises the mezzaro as “the most natural and be coming dress which can be worn by our sex.” But by the late 1800s, well-to-do and peasant women alike had stopped wearing the mezzaro. In an article called “Glimpses of Genoa” in McBride’s Magazine (1871), author R. Davey reveals his disdain for it, saying “The women, up to within a few years since, used to wear the mezzaro (a gaudy chintz scarf) upon their heads.” The painting in the third image is Luigi Gainotti's "Vecchia con un mezzaro" from the late 19th century.

A special thank you today to Kelsey Cassin, our Young Canada Works Curatorial Assistant, whose work has been essential is preparing each Object of the Week. This is Kelsey’s last week with the museum – thank you and all the best!!

Week 20: October 29-November 4, 2017

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Links: See this hat on our online collection; read about the process, materials and challenges Hillary and Genevieve encountered while rehousing the hat collection; the TMC produced an exhibition about these hats in 2015: Good Beginnings: Children's Hats and Clothing from ChinaStories of Chinese children's hats : symbolism and folklore by Phylis Lan Lin, Christi Lan Lin is a great resource, available in the TMC reference library.

Chinese Festival Hat, T85.0753

Our ~*very spooky*~ Object of the Week is an open-crowned Chinese children’s hat embellished with pumpkins! This hat is one of 240 beautiful and unique children’s festival hats in our collection that highlight a seemingly infinite array of stitched narratives and images. Made by mothers and grandmothers for young children, their creation was labour-intensive, and required skill and imagination. First, the maker would cut paper to form the shape of the hat, then cover it with silk by stitching or gluing, and then line and stuff it. The hats were decorated using materials like metal thread, paint, silk floss, cardboard, sequins, glass beads and gold foil, and a great variety of techniques. Hats take the shape of animals and the formal headwear of court officials and scholars, and are decorated with symbolic imagery such as flowers, animals, human figures and Chinese characters. This hat features embroidered pumpkins, often used to symbolize prosperity, abundance, and enchantment.

Our collection of Chinese children’s hats was recently the focus of a major rehousing project, led by our Conservator, Hillary, and Genevieve Kulis. Hillary and Genevieve worked with a team of interns and volunteers to build a custom mount for every one of the 240 hats! The new mounts are multi-purpose: they protect the shape and delicate details of the hats; make it so the hats can be viewed in our storage area with minimal handling (always a risk!); and reduce the amount of work needed to prep the hats for display in exhibitions. Happy Halloween!

Week 19: October 22-28, 2017

mat

Links: See the cedar mat in our online collection; search 'deer rib bones' using the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's online collection's search to see images of the deer rib bark peelers Judge Swan collected in 1883; check out images of Rena Point Bolton at work on Narrative Threads and see Lisa Telford's work on the Stonington Gallery's website; "Weaving Our World" by Della Cheney is a great resource on this topic; this Teacher's Resource, published by the Canadian Heritage Information Network, has information and photos related to Haida cedar weaving as well as a list of over 60 contemporary cedar weavers.

Cedar Mat, T88.0786

Our Object of the Week is a Haida cedar mat from British Columbia, made circa 1880. It is checker woven using red cedar and painted with natural dyes. The painting of the killer whale and wolf heads is attributed to Johnny Kit-Elswa, a young Haida man who acted as translator for Judge James Swan, commissioned to travel to the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1883 to collect objects for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Among the 126 million objects in the NMNH collection are several Haida ‘Deer rib bones for preparing cedar bark’ that Swan collected on this trip.

Long strips of cedar for weaving are harvested in spring and summer. The cedar is removed in small strips to minimize harm to the tree. The dark outer bark is removed and discarded; the inner bark is stripped into thin pieces and soaked in water so it can be woven. These strips, sometimes in combination with other parts of the tree like the roots and limbs, can be woven into many different forms such as mats, capes, blankets, baskets, hats and fish nets.

Some contemporary Haida weavers working today include Rena Point Bolton, featured on the TMC Virtual Museum of Canada project Narrative Threads, and Lisa Telford, who creates pieces like ‘A Night on the Village,’ a red cedar bustier with guinea-feather trim, and ‘Evening Out,’ a pair of red and yellow cedar high heels, that comment on Indigenous identity, stereotypes and fashion.

Week 18: October 15-21, 2017

Links: See this object on our online collection; check out two other Ndops in the Met's collection: 1999.3, 2000.160.55; and in the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art's collection; come to the TMC Library to read "Variations in royal blue; Bamileke display cloth from ritual respect to ethnic demonstration" in Hali (September - October 2005, p80-87).

Royal Display Cloth (Ndop), T94.3021

This week is all about indigo at the Textile Museum and our Object of the Week is an indigo dyed Royal Display Cloth (Ndop) from Cameroon. The cloth is made of handspun cotton that has been woven into narrow strips and sewn together. Once the cloth is assembled, resist patterns are stitched into the cloth using raffia thread. It is then dyed in a vat of indigo dye, giving the cloth a blue colour in the areas that weren’t resist-stitched. The raffia stitching is removed, revealing the pattern. On this particular piece, some of the raffia thread is still attached (see the detail image).

In the 19th century, the Bamileke & Bamum peoples of the Cameroon Grasslands imported cloth like this from the Wukari region of Nigeria, where it was made by the Jukun. Around 1910, King Njoya of Bamum encouraged local weavers and dyers to produce it, establishing a textile industry that continues up to today. In Jukun culture, the cloths were used as funeral shrouds (akya); in Cameroon, they were used to demarcate royal and ritual spaces, worn as body wrappers to assert royal status and used to provide backdrops for important appearances and festivals. The word Ndop used to refer to this cloth comes from the name of the trade route by which the cloth was once traded from Nigeria.

Thanks to Dr. Lisa Aronson for her research on this object.

Week 17: October 8-14, 2017

 

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Links: Jerome Fortin's website; 2012 Textile Museum exhibition Dreamland which featured Fortin's Self Portrait No.4; Information about Senbazuru and it's modern and traditional applications.

JEROME FORTIN, SELF-PORTRAIT (AUTOPORTRAIT) NO.3 (2007)

Our Object of the Week is a textile sculpture entitled Self-Portrait (Autoportrait) No.3, made in 2007 by Jérôme Fortin. Known in Canada and internationally for his sculptural installations, Fortin was born in Joliette, Québec in 1971, and now lives and works in Montréal.

Fortin created Self-Portrait (Autoportrait) No.3 while he was Creator-in-Residence at the Tokyo Wonder Site in Japan in 2007. He was inspired by different elements of Japanese culture for this project including: Senbazuru, 1,000 origami cranes held together on string (according to traditional Japanese legend, the maker of the Senbazuru is granted a wish which is typically used for an ailing loved one or to offer good wishes at weddings and births); and the kimono that hang on bamboo rods in shop windows in Japan. Fortin collected the paper he used for this project – newspapers, telephone books, maps, comic strips, sheet music, etc. – while walking the streets of Tokyo and folded these found-pages into strips using a repeating triangular pattern. Self-Portrait (Autoportrait) No.3 evokes the shape and exquisite craftsmanship of traditional Japanese kimono.

Install and detail images of Self-Portrait (Autoportrait) No.3 are courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain (pfoac.com).

Week 16: October 1-7, 2017

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Links: Link to the 2009 exhibition Kaleidoscope: Antique Quilts from the Collection of Carole and Howard Tanenbaum; check out classes at the Workroom, including lots of quilting classes!

Quilt, T2011.5.17

Our Object of the Week is a staff pick from Susan Fohr, our Educations Programs Coordinator!

“One of my favourite textiles in the collection is this quilt, which was included in the exhibition Kaleidoscope: Antique Quilts from the Collection of Carole and Howard Tanenbaum in 2009/2010.

I am attracted to this quilt as a maker; I first saw the quilt at a time when I was learning how to sew, and I was mystified as to how so many small pieces could be sewn together so precisely to create the design. An English paper piecing class that I took at the Workroom, a sewing studio and fabric shop in Toronto, helped me to appreciate the work involved in making such a piece and allowed me to better explain the process to the many visitors and students that I toured through the exhibition.

Having begun my museum career in historic interpretation, working at sites that depict 19th century life in Canada, I was drawn to this quilt as an artifact from a period where new meanings were associated with handwork as so many textiles were being mass-produced.”

This framed medallion quilt, made from silk and cotton, was made in England in the early to mid 1800s.

Week 15: September 24-30, 2017

Links: Click here to see this object on our online collections database; see a 16th century tile from the Cooper Hewitt's collection that shows how Islamic design persisted in Spanish pottery after the end of Muslim rule; check out the Aga Khan Museum's newest exhibition: Arts of the East: Highlights of Islamic Art from the Bruschettini Collection (on now through January 21, 2018).

Shawl, T87.0583

This week's Object of the Week is a silk shawl. The intricate geometric and abstract designs of this shawl reflect the artistic principles of international Islamic culture that flourished in Morocco at the time when the shawl was made. Silk weaving in the famous workshops of Fez was a distinctive large-scale urban production and local silk fabrics, furnishing materials and shawls were exported to Europe, Asia and trans-Saharan Africa. The silks were woven in workshops on large draw looms operated by male weavers and assistants, who were organized and controlled by guilds. The draw loom’s mechanism stored several designs at once, so the operator could easily shift from one design to another on the same object. Elaborate patterns were inherited from the flourishing art traditions of Andalusia where Islamic cultural canons continued to persist after the end of Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula (1492). There is also a possibility that this shawl was produced in Andalusia itself. 
 

Week 14: September 17-23, 2017

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Links: See detail and 3D views of this object on our permanent collection database

Tea Cosy, T93.0144

Our Object of the Week is a tea cosy that was given to Gladys (Porter Clark) and Clayton Hyde Forsey on the occasion of their wedding in September of 1933, 84 years ago. This simple household object is made special through the use of silk, hand-sewing and the embroidery of oranges and orange blossoms on both sides.

The cosy is stuffed with kapok: fine, silky fibres from the fruit walls of capsules from the kapok tree. Kapok is often referred to as ‘silk cotton’ and is extremely light, insulative and repels moisture. It was popular as a filler for things like pillows, stuffed toys and life jackets (low density, good buoyancy!) until synthetic materials replaced it. Kapok has had a resurgence in recent years as it is a recyclable, biodegradable and nonallergenic fibre but the short, brittle fibres are difficult to spin unless blended with cotton and is highly flammable so its uses are limited.

Week 13: September 10-16, 2017

Links: See this sarape on our collections database; a great article on the history of sarape design from Smithsonian Magazine; and a cute bonus photo of a cat posed with a Mexican sarape (1866-1868) from the Lawrence T. Jones III Texas photography collection, DeGolyer Library, Souther Methodist University.

Sarape, T92.0016

Our Object of the Week is a Mexican sarape – a rectangular blanket worn by men – from the 18th century. Woven wool sarapes evolved as the European looms, wools and textile traditions of 16th century Spanish colonizers met the existing weaving and textile traditions of pre-Hispanic Mexico. In country areas during cold weather, men often wrapped themselves in a woolen sarape which was particularly suited for wearing while riding on horseback. They can also be worn draped over one shoulder and ones with neck-holes can be worn like ponchos.

This sarape is the oldest one in the TMC’s collection. It was made in Saltillo, a centre of sarape production in Mexico, and the rich red colour comes from natural cochineal dye made from carminic acid extracted from the body and eggs of cochineal bugs. The sarape features a diamond at its centre, a very typical design from this region and time period.

We've linked two later sarapes from our collection. This one, with a large circular motif at its centre, was made between 1865-1875 when the design of sarapes was deeply influenced by the European taste of Emperor Maximilian. Sarapes from this period were still hand woven but stray from traditional linear, geometric designs. This striped sarape is from around 1925 when aniline dyes, machine-weaving and even further diversification of design, largely influenced by the American market, changed the appearance of the sarape yet again. These three sarapes are representative of centuries of change in the production and design of Mexican sarapes.

Week 12: September 3-9, 2017

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Links: See the poncho on our collections database; Canadian photographer, Obder W. Heffer took many photographs of the Mapuche during his time in Chile in the 19th century. THe Museo Historico Nacional in Chile has a large collection of these postcards, featured here.

Poncho, T92.0262

In anticipation of our next exhibition, Tied, Dyed and Woven, our Object of the Week is an ikat poncho from Chile, locally known as a trarikanmakuñ. The poncho was likely invented to wear while on horseback in the early 17th century by the Mapuche people, who live in south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina. The Mapuche are Chile’s largest Indigenous group and live across many geographic zones, including cold and rainy regions where the thick woven wool of the poncho is especially useful because it is warm and rain doesn’t permeate the fabric.
The trarikanmakuñ is the most valued type of poncho because the designs are made using the ikat dye method. They are woven in one piece on an upright loom. Women weave the ponchos for the men in their family as a gift to provide care and protection.

The red colour is symbolic of power connected with blood and vital energy. The main design is the stepped cross which represents stylized ancestor figures. Wearing the poncho during ceremonies can reinforce relationships with their ancestors. Similar variations of this design have been found in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.

 

Week 11: August 27-September 2, 2017

Links: Click here to see this bag on our collections database; check out some other salt bags from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection.

Salt Bag, T03.1.2

 

Our object this week is a salt bag from Balochistan. Salt bags were used by tribal nomads to carry rock salt and by shepherds to carry salt as a food supplement for their sheep and goats. Despite the name, the bags are also used to hold fruit and nuts. They are shaped like a geometrical bottle with a large body and narrow mouth to prevent salt from spilling out. This one is quite small, measuring 33 x 21cm. A plaited cord is often attached to a top corner which allows the bag to be hung in a tent for easy access while cooking. Salt bags usually have the same design on both sides and are often decorated with tassels, as seen here. All known weaving techniques are used to produce these bags including plain weave, knotted pile, interlocking and slit tapestry, supplementary weft and weft float.

This Balochi salt bag was made between 1930 and 1950 in the Balochistan region which extends from Afghanistan into Iran and Pakistan. Salt bags are only made in a small area of the world and, as a result, they look very much alike despite the ethnic diversity of the nomads who made them. Textiles of Baluchistan by M.G. Konieczny (1979) is a good resource if you're interested to know more.

Week 10: August 20-26, 2017

Links: Click here to see the sash on our collections database where you can zoom in to see details; Link to François Simard and Louis-Pascal Rousseau's article in Material Culture Review (Vol 59, 2004) [article is in French]; Monique Genest-Leblanc's book Une jolie cinture à flesche (2003) [book is in French]; The Quartier des Art de L'Assomption has an interesting ceinture fléchée tutorial on youtube [the video is in French - skip to 8:00 to see the fingerweaving in action!]; the Canadian Encyclopedia also has an interesting article on ceinture fléchée [available in English and French].

Ceinture Fléchée, T89.0158

Our Object of the Week is a ceinture fléchée, made in L’Assomption, Québec between 1875 and 1925. The history of the development of the ceinture fléchée has been much debated. According to a paper by historians François Simard and Louis-Pascal Rousseau (Material Culture Review, 2004), the origin of the ceinture fléchée lies with the French-Canadians in the late 18th century. The sash was part of the outfit French-Canadian fur traders wore on trading missions; an intricate and beautiful object, it conveyed the power and prestige of the wearer and was amongst the most frequently traded objects. Finger-weaving was used by Indigenous people long before the arrival of Europeans and was essential in the development of the ceinture fléchée, as was the introduction of wool yarn from Europe. The Assomption style ceinture fléchée took form from these influences in the 1840s; the first Indigenous-made ceintures fléchées have been dated to the mid-19th century by Marie-Berthe Guibault-Lanoix. Simard and Rousseau argue that the ceinture fléchée can be seen as an intercultural North American object: a merger of Indigenous and French finger-weaving techniques and materials.

This ceinture fléchée’s dimensions are typical: 20 cm x 2 metres. A sash like this takes between 200 and 400 hours to make.

The ceinture fléchée holds distinct social, cultural and symbolic importance in the Métis, Indigenous and French-Canadian communities. In the past, a sash could also be employed as a functional object: it could be used to tie around a blanket coat for warmth, as a back-belt for labourers, a rope, an emergency bridle and more!

Week 9: August 13-19, 2017

Links: Click here to see the bag in our online collections database where you can see alternate views and zoom in to see details; see Ishiuchi Miyako's stunning 2015 photographs of Kahlo's belongings; check out Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida's wardrobe, featuring images of restored clothing from Kahlo's wardrobe paired with historic photos of her wearing them and painting in which the garments appear.

Otomi Bag, T88.0107

Our Object of the Week is an Otomi bag made in the 1940s in the Mezquital Valley in Hidalgo, Mexico. Otomi weavers are known worldwide for their beautiful and lively textiles.

This bag was featured in the TMC’s 2015 exhibition Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray. Kahlo wore traditional Mexican clothing as an expression of her personal politics: a statement of solidarity with labourers of Mexico and a celebration of the indigenous craft involved in its production. After her death in 1954, Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera, shut her possessions in a locked bathroom at their home in Mexico City, to remain there for 15 years after his own death. The room stayed locked much longer and was finally reopened in 2004 revealing Kahlo’s deep admiration for indigenous textiles and her appreciation of the sophisticated, centuries-old skills used to create them.

In Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray, TMC curator Roxane Shaughnessy selected indigenous Mexican garments from our collection that were representative of those in Kahlo’s wardrobe. This Otomi bag was included as Kahlo owned several shoulder bags woven from wool and cotton made in the Mezquital Valley. 

Week 8: August 6-12, 2017

Links: Click here to see the mask in our collections database where you can see alternate views and zoom in to see details; learn more about funerary masks from the TMC's digital project, In Touch; watch a UNESCO World Intagible Cultural Heritage video about how barkcloth is made in Uganda.

Funerary Mask, T90.0124

Our Object of the Week is a funerary mask known as a ya-ko-ko-su-ti-ro, worn by Tukano men from Brazil. The large, cone-shaped masks cover the wearer’s body to the knees. They are made throughout the tropical lowlands of South America using one of the oldest methods of textile production: the beating and decorating of bark cloth. This technique is practiced in most tropical regions, but is especially important in the eastern half of South America, where there is no indigenous loom technology. The bark comes from the Tururi tree and is then painted with vegetable dyes. The faces painted onto the masks may represent a forest spirit or another human-shaped creature. The top, bottom and small sleeves are stiffened with cane hoops, and palm fringes are tied to the bottom hoop to conceal the wearer.

Funerary masks are worn to represent the inhabitants of the spirit world during mourning ceremonies for the recently deceased (called óyne, or weeping). While wearing the masks, men dance, sing and mime animal or spirit behaviour. At the end of the ceremony, mourners burn the bark-cloth masks to drive away the soul of the deceased.

week 7: July 30-August 5, 2017

 

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Links: See these shoes on our collections database T92.0168ab; TMC Conservator Hillary Anderson presented about rehousing Chinese Children's festival hats at the joint Canadian Assocation for Conservation and the American Institute for Conservation's Annual Meeting in 2016 - see the poster here!

Chinese Children's Shoes, T92.0168aB

Our Object of the Week is a staff pick! Hillary Anderson, the TMC's Conservator, chose a pair of mid-20th century children's shoes from China as her favourite object in the collection:

"Like many of the staff at the TMC, I started working here as a volunteer. In the summer of 2004, I volunteered to work with the collection to get work/study hours for my fashion degree at Ryerson University. Our project that summer was to re-organize the Chinese collection. One afternoon, we placed all of the Chinese shoes on one shelf. We made sure they were stored properly by supporting them with tissue paper and finding boards to accommodate all the shoes. It was so satisfying! It definitely sparked my interest in working with collections. I picked these shoes because they represent the project that I did that summer."

In China, children’s footwear was often made in the form of an animal. It was believed that animals had protective powers and were able to bestow health, longevity and good luck onto a child. They were made of red cotton or silk, and were brightly embroidered on the upper part, sometimes even on the padded soles.

Week 6: July 23-29, 2017

 

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Flora MacDonald Needle Packet, T00.11.5

Our Object of the Week is The Flora MacDonald Needle Packet! The needle packet features the image of Flora MacDonald (1722-1790), a Jacobite heroine, celebrated for her role in facilitating the great escape of a Prince in the mid-18th century!


In 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart initiated a Jacobite uprising to restore his family to the thrones of England and Scotland (Outlander, anyone?). The uprising was unsuccessful and the Prince hid in caves, and the huts of shepherds and fishermen in the moors of Scotland, seeking refuge from government officials. Supporters eventually hatched a plan for his escape. A small team travelled to the cave where the Prince was hiding, and gave him a newly-made dress and identity as Flora MacDonald’s Irish spinning-maid, Betty Burke. They travelled in a small boat across stormy waters of the Minch which were being scoured by government vessels searching for the Prince. Despite the treacherous journey, they landed unharmed on the Isle of Skye. MacDonald was imprisoned in the Tower of London for her involvement but was pardoned in 1747. 

Week 5: July 16-22, 2017

Links: 2010 mola exhibition Drawing with Scissors: Molas from Kuna Yala

Mola, T2010.1.68

Our Object of the Week is a Mola (blouse) panel from Panama! Molas are made by the Kuna people from the Kuna Yala islands off the coast of Panama. In the Kuna language, mola means “cloth,” and is traditionally worn by women as decorative blouse panels. Originally, Kuna women would paint their bodies with geometrical designs, but when the Spanish colonized the area, the women transferred their designs onto textiles. However in 1903, due to a law that said the Kuna had to lead “civilized lives,” the mola was banned, only to be made legal again after 1925 when the Kuna gained back their rights to practice their traditions. They are hand-sewn using a reverse-appliqué technique, which involves stacking the coloured pieces one on top of another and cutting through the layers to reveal the cloth below. Mola imagery is inspired by traditional Kuna symbols and stories, and from imported popular culture. The characters Pikachu and Ash Ketchum are depicted here from the popular series Pokémon. In 2010, the TMC held a mola exhibition- Drawing with Scissors: Molas from Kuna Yala, where over 170 molas were displayed. There are about 300 molas total in the TMC’s collection. Guess we had to… catch em’ all…

Week 4: July 9-15, 2017

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Links: This rain cape is featured in Diligence and Elegance: The Nature of Japanese Textiles

Rain Cape, T2011.1.1

On this cloudy and rainy day, our Object of the Week is a rare and unique piece from the TMC’s collection. This is a man’s formal cape called a date-gera from the 1930s, and it’s currently on display in the Diligence and Elegance: the Nature of Japanese Textiles exhibition. In Japan, capes for work, travel and formal occasions were historically made from local plant materials such as grass, straw, seaweed and bark. Similarly, this cape is made with a grass called mige, dried and softened, and decorated with linden tree bark. Strands of seaweed are attached to the surface and wrapped into the neckline. Date-gera capes were made for formal occasions and were embellished with a combination of colourful plant fibres, thickness, and structure. This formal cape would have been worn for the New Year and other celebrations. Learn more about this cape and other beautiful Japanese textiles when you visit Diligence and Elegance!

WEEK 3: July 2-8, 2017

Souvenir Pillow, T90.0037

This week we're featuring a Canadian souvenir pillow. Souvenir pillows were particularly popular in the mid-20th century on military bases where soldiers would often buy pillows with rhyming love poems to send to their mothers. This printed pillowcase features ten provincial crests; the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, though part of Confederation when the pillow was made, were not included. In the 2011 exhibition Cold Comfort: New and Improved Souvenirs of Canada, the TMC collaborated with DodoLab to expand the vision of Canada represented in the Museum’s historical collection of souvenir pillows. DodoLab and visitors to the Museum created new pillows for the exhibition that represented places not previously included and contemporary social and political issues.

week 2: June 25-July 1, 2017

Links: TMC Collection; This rug was featured in Max Allen’s exhibition The Mysterious East; Lecture on Tuduc rugs by independent rug scholar of Oriental rugs Stefano Ionescu, published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (the lecture get’s going around 4:30); Handbook of Fakes by Tuduc by Stefano Ionescu

Prayer Rug, T04.19.10

Here is a prayer rug from our collection to commemorate the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid al-Fitr celebrations. This one has a sensational story, so read on! This prayer rug is an imitation of a 17th century Ottoman rug made by Teodor Tuduc (1888-1983), a Romanian rug restorer, dealer and the world’s most famous rug-forger. Tuduc created such skillful forgeries of Ottoman, Persian and Caucasian rugs, artificially aged through ‘antique washing’ procedures, that even scholars, curators and rug dealers could not tell the difference between an authentic rug and one of his forgeries, the TMC included! When the TMC acquired this Tuduc, it was believed to be an authentic Ottoman rug. Max Allen, one of the TMC's founders, realized it was a fake after handling real ones at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At the time, there was almost nothing published about Tuduc's fakes but Allen noticed that it did not have the clear, bright colours and floppy feel of the real ones; it has resolved corners whereas real ones almost always have incomplete pattern units in the corners; and that the selvedges look like they’re “stapled” on. Tuduc's fakes have reportedly made their way into the collections of museum like the Met and the Museum for Islamic Art in Berlin, and one hung on display, undetected, in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum for decades. Tuduc’s imposters have now become highly collectable.

Prayer rugs like this one are used by Muslim worshippers to cover the ground while they pray. Prayer rugs will usually depict a niche at one end of the rectangle, which is meant to represent the Mihrab found in every mosque. The Mihrab is a directional point that guides the worshipper in the direction of Mecca. Eid Mubarak!

Week 1: June 18-24, 2017

Links: TMC CollectionNarrative Threads postLe-La-La DancersMuseum of Anthropology Dance Apron

Dance Apron, T04.30.1

To celebrate National Aboriginal Day, the first object we’re sharing is a dance apron from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. Aprons like this one are worn by Kwakwaka’wakw dancers during traditional ceremonies such as the Tła’sala “Peace Dances.” This apron, made in 1970, has a design created with plastic buttons; bells and thimbles are used to make noise when the apron is worn. Older examples often feature buttons made from abalone (aka sea snails) and noisemakers made from other natural materials. On our Virtual Museum of Canada site Narrative Threads you can also see a Kwakwaka’wakw dance apron from Takus, BC (from the collection of the Museum of Anthropology) made from moose skin, porcupine quill, metal, deer hoof and fibre. Swipe right to see a photo of the Le-La-La Dancers, a group of traditional Kwakwaka’wakw dancers based in Victoria, BC who wear dance aprons and button blankets in their dances and who have been performing across Canada and in countries as far away as New Zealand since 1987.