Wednesday, 16 July 2014

New Accessions

In 2009 Deryn O'Connor generously donated to the Museum a collection of more than 200 textiles made by the Miao people of Guizhou Province, southwest China. Textiles are very important in the life of the Miao people. Their costumes are an expression of group identity and cohesion, as well as of the individual’s standing within a group. 

The Miao are particularly well known for their richly woven and embroidered festival costumes. The cloth, usually woven on traditional looms, is made of hemp and ramie bast fibres grown in the region. They use a range of decorative techniques on the textiles, including wax resist, appliqué, and expertly executed embroidery stitches in silks and cotton. 

Cataloguing this interesting collection was an opportunity to look closely at these textiles and the techniques used. If you visit the Museum you can see some of these for yourself on display in the new acquisitions case in the ground floor Court Gallery. Alternatively you can see and explore the whole collection for yourself via the Museum's online database.

Wax resist dyed cotton textile; 2009.135.70 © Pitt Rivers Museum
Woman's jacket with silk embroidery and appliqué; 2009.135.8 
© Pitt Rivers Museum

Detail of the hem of pleated skirt showing wax resist dyed decoration, 
embroidery and cotton appliqué design; 2009.135.39 
© Pitt Rivers Museum

Detail of embroidery showing minute cross stitch embroidered pattern; 
2009.135.47 © Pitt Rivers Museum

Detail of silk embroidery in satin stitch on green silk paper background 
from an apron; 2009.135.54 © Pitt Rivers Museum

Wax resist dyed cotton textile. Dyed with indigo and embroidered 
with coloured silk yarns. Piece for a baby carrier; 2009.135.69 
© Pitt Rivers Museum

Faye Belsey
Assistant Curator

To read more about Miao textiles:

O'Connor, Deryn, 1994.  "Miao Costumes"  James Hockey Gallery, WSCAD, Farnham. Catalogue to coincide with the 1994 exhibition at the West Surrey College of Art and Design. Most of the costumes illustrated were then in the collection of Gina Corrigan whose location photos illustrate the text plus studio shots of the exhibition costumes. Deryn O'Connor was until 1990 Principal Lecturer in Textiles at WSCAD and was responsible for much of the research. Excellent reference work with beautiful photos both in China and in the studio.

Corrigan, Gina, 2001.  "Miao Textiles from China" Fabric Folios series published by The British Museum Press. The costumes are in the British Museum collection and most were collected by Gina Corrigan. Helpful reference work with excellent photos.

Smith, Ruth with Textiles from The Gina Corrigan Collection. Researchers: Margaret Baker, Gina Corrigan, Ros Downing, Marianne Ellis, Cobi Erskine, Deryn O’Connor, Thea Nield, Jeni Pinel, Phyllis Smith, Ruth Smith, 2005.  "Miao Embroidery from South West China" Occidor Ltd. The impetus for the book arose from the study of the collection of costume and textiles brought back from China by Gina Corrigan. This book is an attempt to record some of the embroidery stitches and techniques before they disappear. Ten researchers, some of whom have visited Miao villages, have analysed and recorded the decorative stitch techniques in the collection and these are illustrated with Gina’s photographs. The focus of the investigation has been the most highly decorated items of Miao clothing, namely the women’s festival jackets, skirts, aprons and baby carriers.

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