Writing with Thread: Traditional Textiles of Southwest Chinese Minorities

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Sharon Tasaka, (808) 956-6888
Department of Art and Art History
Posted: Apr 18, 2008

HONOLULU - The University of Hawaii at Manoa Art Gallery will host a major loan exhibition from Taiwan that will coincide with the Textile Society of America Biennial Symposium in Honolulu from September 21-November 30, 2008 at the UH Art Gallary on the Manoa campus. Writing with Thread: Traditional Textiles of Southwest Chinese Minorities, on loan from the Evergrand Art Museum, features a collection of southwest Chinese ethnic minority costumes unmatched in the world. Over 500 objects that include historically significant clothing and silver ornaments from 15 ethnic groups and nearly 100 subgroups will be shown in the United States for the first time. Over the last 17 years, the Evergrand Museum in Taiwan, under the direction of Huang Ying-feng, has assembled the most extraordinary examples of the textile arts of the southwest region of China. Of over 11,000 pieces collected by Mr. Huang, more than 500 objects, including spectacular silver ornaments, will be included in Writing with Thread. Writing with Thread will provide an arresting visual feast of exquisite and rare costumes. Visitors will wander through the gallery to view entire ensembles of women's, men's and children's regalia, baby carriers, quilt covers, festive and religious vestments, silver jewelry, embroidered silk valences, and wax-resist dyed curtains, plus a loom, weaving tools, and embroidery cases. All are arranged in a meandering environment that suggests the great river systems of this region of China along which the various groups settled. Writing with Thread explores the meanings associated with the production and use of indigenous clothing. In societies without written languages, traditions and customs are orally passed from generation to generation. However, the textile arts, largely practiced by women, provide tangible evidence of a group's history, myths, and legends. The signs and patterns woven or embroidered in their clothing are often replicated in the accompanying silver ornaments made by men. Together, the textiles and silver ornaments, as complements to their oral traditions, record and transmit ideas and concepts that are important for the preservation and reconstruction of the identities of their makers and users. The exhibition, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to date, will showcase the finest and rarest costumes from the Miao, Yi, Dong, Tujia, Shui, Zhuang, Dai, Buyi, Yao, Wa, and Zang. The needlework and silverwork of each ethnic group show variations in their myths of origin and heroic combats, communal memories, and wish fulfillment. The University of Hawaii Art Gallery has assembled an international team of scholars to conduct research for the exhibition and the accompanying catalogue. Textile scholar Angela Sheng from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada is principal curator of the exhibition. She has worked with scholars in China to select the most extraordinary examples of objects from this unparalleled collection. The scale and quality of this spectacular exhibition has already gained worldwide attention. Writing with Thread serves as the fulcrum for the Textile Society of America Biennial Symposium in Honolulu. From Wednesday, September 24 to Saturday, September 27, 2008 hundreds of textile specialists, curators from many of the most distinguished museums, and scholars from around the world will meet in Hawaii to share their research and observe and learn about Hawaii's own multifaceted textile traditions. Museums and galleries throughout Honolulu will also present textile related exhibitions. Following its presentation at the University of Hawaii Art Gallery Writing with Thread will travel to the Chazen Art Museum at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.Writing with Thread: Traditional Textiles of Southwest Chinese Minorities is sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History and the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The exhibition has received major support from the University of Hawaii, the Blakemore Foundation, the John Young Foundation, the Zilber Foundation, and private contributions. Additional support comes from the Watumull Grant for Museum Studies in the Arts; Blodwyn Goo Endowment; and anonymous donors.For more information please visit http://www.hawaii.edu/artgallery. Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawaii is the state's sole public system of higher education. The UH System provides an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs on 10 campuses and through educational, training, and research centers across the state. UH enrolls more than 50,000 students from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, and around the world. For more information visit www.hawaii.edu.GALLERY HOURS AND ADMISSION
Monday-Friday 10:30-4:00; Sunday 12:00-4:00. Closed Saturdays; Nov. 4, Election Day; Nov. 11, Veterans' Day;Nov. 27, Thanksgiving Day.Admission is free. Donations are appreciated.Parking fees may apply.

Sunday, September 21, from 3:00-5:00 p.m.The public is invited.Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. Parking fees may apply.SPECIAL EVENTS
Writing with Thread International ColloquiumFosters cross-cultural understanding of ideas and methodologies among Chinese and Western scholars and institutionsTuesday, September 23, 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Krauss Hall, University of Hawaii at ManoaThe public is invited. Admission is free. Parking fees may apply.Other special events will be announced in a later release.