Thursday, January 29, 2009

A visit to the Textile Museum, the Cutting Edge

On Tuesday I went to the Canadian Textile Museum. I am still feeling sick, but this is the last day of the Afghan Rug Exhibit so I needed to get to the museum whether I felt like it or not. I took a lot of photos so I am dividing them into two posts, one on the Afghan rugs and one on everything else. This is the "everything else" post.

The first exhibit at the museum is called The Cutting Edge, it is about the construction of clothing. It was interesting, but not an area that I am especially interested in so I don't have much to say about it. Except this.

When I visited the ROM a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the ROM had acquired a large collection of imperial Chinese robes around the turn of the century. Apparently most of them are now in the Textile Museum.

These two robes are interesting because one is "real" and one is "fake". Can you tell which is which?

They both actually date from roughly the same time period, but one is a true imperial robe that would have been worn by a member of the Chinese Emperor's family, the other is most likely a theatrical fake, worn in a theatrical drama to represent someone of imperial status.

The gaudy gold and blue robe is the "fake". The telltale is the helter skelter positioning of the embroidered dragons.

On a "real" imperial robe, the dragons are positioned in proper symbolic poses: bottom left facing right, bottom right facing left and upper centre facing forward. There are other differences as well, but those are the most obvious. The point being that an imperial robe means something, there is nothing on it that doesn't signify the royalty of the wearer. Mixing up the symbolic components immediately testifies the garment's inauthenticity.

Embroidery for such robes was often done on separate pieces of fabric and then cut out to apply to the garment.

Moving on, there was a tiny collection of quilts. Unfortunately the lighting in the Museum is a bit poor for photos, you either get blurry pics without flash, or too-bright pics with. And since I really don't know a lot about quilts, I can't comment too much on them either.

So here is one quilt and a close-up of some of the detail of it.


Anonymous said...

How interesting!

The pictured quilt is a Log Cabin pattern and when half of the block is light fabric and the other half is dark, it's often called "Sunlight and Shadow". The quiltmaker chose which fabric to put where, which direction to turn each block, and what overall pattern she liked best. She likes the diamond shapes, didn't she?!

Thanks, Anne!

Hope you feel better soon. Hugs!

Zabetha said...

Barbara I was hoping you'd fill me in on it, very interesting!