This spring SAM’s Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas is out and about, hosting happenings in Bellevue and Columbia City! Please join us on March 29 for a SAM members’ reception and public program at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Featuring Rosemary Crill on Kashmir Shawls and the West, she will speak in conversation with historian Prof. Anand Yang, University of Washington
Kashmir shawls launched an amazing global fashion phenomenon. When introduced to Europe from India in the late 18th century, the soft goats’ wool (“cashmere”) was a new sensation, as were their paisley patterns. Even the word, “shawl’,” was introduced to English from the Persian term also used in India.
British and French textile producers rushed to invent ways to make cheaper imitations—and lo and behold, it’s the Industrial Revolution and colonial enterprise in action. Once the British shawls not only replaced imports from Kashmir but were exported in huge quantities to India, Kashmir’s highly-skilled and specialized weavers were doomed.
This colonial dynamic paralleled the much larger-scale damage to India’s cotton weavers. Protest in India and a social movement to boycott foreign goods led in time to the independence movement—think of Gandhi and his spinning wheel. As Crill points out in The Fabric of India exhibition catalogue (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2015), “the effect of this reversal in the direction of trade . . . was to affect the subsequent history of South Asia and the world as a whole.”
Rosemary Crill, former Senior Curator for South Asia at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, is a legend in the textile world. As part of the discussion, an unidentified old textile piece from India from a Washington museum collection will be shown to Crill for her assessment. Be there to find out more!
Can you tell which of these are from Kashmir and which are the British versions?
– Sarah Loudon, Director, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas
Images: Early Kashmir Shawl, early 19th century, Indian, cashmere, 128 x 49 in., Gift of Mrs. Reginald H. Parsons, Seattle Art Museum 36.52. Shawl, 1856, Scottish, wool, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994.327. image in the public domain. Shawl, 1865–75, Scottish, wool and silk; Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Catherine Courtney, 1933; 2009.300.3010 image in the public domain. Shawl, mid-19th century, Attributed to India, Kashmir; Wool, silk; double interlocking twill tapestry weave, embroidered, pieced; Gift of H. de B. Parsons, 1923; Metropolitan Museum of Art 23.126.1. image in the public domain. Kashmir shawl, ca.1830, Kashmir, for the Western market, woven pashmina wool, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, IS 96-1948. Muslin dress and Kashmir shawl. Dress, Indian muslin made up in England, ca.1805-10. Shawl, Kashmir for the western market, ca.1750-60. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Circ. 30-1958 (dress); IM 17-1915 (shawl).Victoria and Albert Museum. Preliminary sketch design for paisley shawl, Scotland. Plate XI in Matthew Blair, The Paisley Shawl and the Men Who Produced It, Alexander Gardner: 1904. Detail, top image. Early Kashmir Shawl, early 19th century, Indian, Kashmir, 128 x 49 in., Gift of Mrs. Reginald H. Parsons, Seattle Art Museum 36.52. Kashmir shawl, after 1865, Indian, wool with embroidery, 82 x 81 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, Seattle Art Museum 40.87
Cheryl Colopy discusses her book, Dirty, Sacred Rivers: Confronting South Asia’s Water Crisis, which takes readers throughout the enormous Ganges river basin–in North India, Nepal and Bangladesh, from the Himalaya to the Bay of Bengal. The book is a vibrant first-person narrative that brings the complex issue of water sustainability to life, as she observes both gross mismanagement of rivers and also efforts to revive traditional sustainable methods of water management.
Two of her recent op-eds appeared in the New York Times and Yale Environment 360.
New York Times
Yale Environment 360
Cheryl Colopy is an environmental journalist who wrote Dirty, Sacred Rivers during seven years of travel and residence in South Asia. She is an award-winning reporter, formerly with National Public Radio affiliate KQED in San Francisco.
Presented by the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas with the Elliott Bay Book Company.
Date: Thursday, November 8
Time: 7 pm
Location: Seattle Asian Art Museum
After outstanding conversations last summer, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas is once again teaming up with Elliott Bay Book Company and Teamwork Productions of Delhi, India to provide two stimulating evenings of discussion in Volunteer Park. Each night, writers from India engage in dialogue with local writers of Indian origin.
Tonight- Wednesday July 11th, from 6:30 to 9 join M.J. Akbar, an acclaimed journalist and the Editiorial Director of India Today as he shares his views on the subcontinent and his life as a journalist alongside fellow journalist Shiraz Sidhva. There will be time for discussion with the audience following their discussion.
Tomorrow Night- Thursday July 12th, from 6:30 to 9 enjoy first Nayanjot Lahiri, a Professor of History at the University of Delhi and author of The Decline and Fall of the Indus Civilization and Finding Forgotten Cities as he is joined for discussion by Vikram Prakash, Professor of Architecture at the UW. Next, Urvashi Butalia, the co-founder of India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali for Women, will discuss India’s partition and more with Sonora Jha, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Seattle University.
Both evenings will be held in Stimson Auditorium and tickets ($7 members, $12 non-members) include Chai break and light refreshments.
We hope to see you there!
-Seattle Asian Art Museum
A fascinating series of lectures will be offered at the Seattle Asian Art Museum on two topics that have increasingly entered the purview of art historians across the world: food and ritual in relation to art.
Japanese culture, both ancient and modern, is rich in elements of ritual display. Foods, drink, implements for ceremonial performance, and a wide range of display objects such as lacquer and ceramics are found on temple and shrine altars. Paintings extoll the sins and virtues of various foods—often in encoded visual subtexts. Mochi, which many of us know as a frozen ice cream treat, traces its origins to secular rituals for harvest or the New Year and religious rites in ancient Japan. Paintings in the Seattle Art Museum collections transport us back in time to the days when wrongly accused courtiers and statesmen took vengeance on the perpetrators of injustice and were pacified only by regular ceremonies at court or posthumous enshrinement at Shinto jinja.
Professor Cynthea J. Bogel (East Asian visual culture and art history, University of Washington) has organized colleagues, community, and students to form a creative collaboration that explores ritual, foods, objects of display, and medieval Japanese painting side by side. Working with the Simpson Center for the Humanities, the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle artist and cultural anthropologist Julia Harrison, and input from Seattle’s Asian-American artist and confectionary-making community, four lectures will be offered at the Seattle Asian Art Museum free of charge.
The Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas kicks off a second year of programs with a series of outstanding speakers on Sacred Sites of Asia! These nine sessions are a sampling of new perspectives and images, from the Angkor Wat temple of Cambodia, to an Australian aboriginal forest, Buddhist caves of the Chinese Gobi Desert, and Zen monasteries.
William Dalrymple’s new book with this title just became available in the U.S. a couple of days ago. As intriguing, illuminating and playful as his previous books (The Last Mughal, White Mughals, City of Djinns and more), it is also a mix of historical storytelling, travel adventures, and deep insight.
We are lucky enough to have him coming to speak next Thursday, June 24, at 7 pm at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, thanks to Elliott Bay Books and Random House.
Those who went to the Meany Hall concert of Pakistani musician Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in 1993 will still remember the thrill of hearing his voice and his group—with the audience dancing, and dollar bills being thrown onto the stage! It was a taste of the power of qawwali, the musical tradition of Sufis in Pakistan and India.
We have heard more details recently about the ongoing war in isolated Burma [Myanmar]–especially this week in Seattle. Human rights reporter Mac McClelland was here, talking about her experiences living in Thailand by the Burmese border, an area swollen with refugee camps. She lived with Burmese dissidents, members of one of the ethnic groups targeted by Burmese government genocide, who risk their lives regularly by secretly crossing into Burma to document atrocities of the government’s ethnic-cleansing campaign.