Calendar Pages -- A Siam Society Lecture -A Tale of Two Textiles: Design & Exchange in the 18th Century Word Trade

November 03rd, 2015

A Siam Society Lecture -A Tale of Two Textiles: Design & Exchange in the 18th Century Word Trade

A Siam Society Lecture  -A Tale of Two Textiles: Design & Exchange in the 18th Century Word Trade0

A Siam Society lecture
3 November 2015 (Tuesday) 7.00 p.m.
A Tale of Two Textiles: Design and Exchange in 18th Century World Trade, A Talk by John Guy

Tuesday, 3 November 2015, 7:00 p.m.

the Siam Society

The production of painted cottons - kalamkari , chintz - in 17th and 18th century India was organized on an industrial scale,  generating volumes of variously graded cloths that served the needs of both the domestic and India’s global markets. Yet it remained built on the piece- work output of individual spinners and weavers, painters and dyers of those centres best suited environmentally to allow the making of the f inest cottons with the fastest dyes. These goods were utilitarian and functional, and highly d ifferentiated in terms of quality to serve the needs of a hierarchy of markets. Those produced for the burgeoning market of England and Europe represented but one of many such niche global markets, clearly defined in terms of function (dimensions) and décor (design repertoire). They were equally marked by a highly attuned responsiveness to shifting market demands, to consumer sensitivities and vagaries of fashion, repeatedly demonstrated from markets as diverse as England, Holland, Siam and Japan.

This lecture will present two extraordinary painted cottons cloths which, in their very different ways, vividly demonstrate the dynamics of the international textile trade in the first half of the 18 th century. Both were essentially addressing European
taste and narrative needs, one Dutch, one English. In reading their design histories and cultural memories, these two pictorial cloths allow us to construct a richer understanding of the complexities of textile design, commissioning, production and consumption a cross a landscape, which reached from Europe to Japan. Mr. John Guy is the Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, a nd an elected Fellow of the Society of
Antiquaries, London. He was formerly Senior Curator for South Asia at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He has served on the Councils of the European Associations of South Asia and Southeast Asia Archaeology, worked on a number of archaeological excavations, both land and maritime sites, and served as an advisor to UNESCO on historical sites in Southeast Asia. His major publications include Indian Temple Sculpture (2007), Woven Cargoes. Indian Textiles in the East (1998, 2009),
Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India (2011), and Lost Kingdoms. Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia (2014).

The lecture will be held at the Siam Society’s Auditorium and will start with a small reception at 6.30 pm. The lecture will start at 7:00 p.m.

Free of charge.
The Siam Society is deeply grateful to the James H. W. Thompson Foundation for its generous support of the 2015-2016 Lecture Series.
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