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Event flyer for a display and talk, "The Intersection between Texts and Textiles across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia."

The Intersection between Texts and Textiles across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia: a Display and Talk at the Library of Congress

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(The following is a post by Charlotte Giles, South Asian Reference Librarian, Asian Division)

On Friday September 29, the Asian Division of the Library of Congress will be hosting a partial day display and talk celebrating the diversity of the Library’s collections through textiles, in collaboration with the African and Middle Eastern, Prints and Photographs, Geography and Maps, and Rare Books and Special Collections divisions. The display will take place in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, on Mahogany Row (room LJ-110), starting at 11:00 am and ending at 3:30 pm. In addition to the display, Sylvia Houghteling, Associate Professor of History of Art at Bryn Mawr College, will be giving a talk about the intersection between texts and textiles in room LJ-119. Her most recent monograph, “The Art of Cloth in Mughal India,” is a stunning book about the historical, political, and emotional stories that cloth can tell us with a particular focus on the Mughal period in South Asia (1526-1857). If you are unable to make the talk in person, it will be broadcasted live on Zoom. There will be a Q&A session following the talk. To attend the talk on Zoom, you may register through this link:

Left Image: [Hmong hand-stitched story cloth maps of mainland Southeast Asia], Map 2. [Laos]: [publisher not identified], [2016]. Library of Congress Geography & Map Division. Right Image: Durrat al-tāj/درة التاج, [17th century?]. Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division.

Among the many special items on display will be one of the Library’s Hmong story cloth maps, the Kashmiri shawl-bound Persian manuscript “Durrat al-tāj,” and James Skinner’s ornately illustrated volume “Kitāb-i tashrīḥ al-aqvām” depicting images of craftspeople at work in India. A few general textile items will also be included such as a Jacquard woven image based on a painting of Joseph-Marie Jacquard held in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room. Additional materials include a cloth wrapping of a Pali (in Burmese script) palm leaf manuscript, maps painted on cloth, and swatch books from Japan. Join us on September 29 to see all of these unique items and more to celebrate the diversity of the collections at the Library of Congress.

To learn more about textiles at the Library of Congress, check out the Story Map, “Threads and Words.” To access any item mentioned in this post, please contact us using the Ask-a-Librarian service.

Situated near the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, the Library of Congress, a national public library, acknowledges the sovereignty of the Native Nations of the United States. We pay our particular respect to the people, past and present, of the Nacotchtank (Anacostan), Piscataway, Pamunkey and Manahoac nations, the first peoples and custodians of the lands where the Library provides its services.


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