Wednesday, June 11, 2008
: . Philippine Textiles at the American Museum of Natural History, New York
(American flag; 77cm. X 193cm.; Iloilo province, Panay island; piña warps and cotton and piña wefts, interlocking tapestry weave)
From the Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History:
In 1910 the AMNH acquired an important group of Philippine textiles collected by Laura Watson Benedict...The 1,500 textiles from the Philippines constitute almost half of the Asian holdings, and cover a broad spectrum of types including clothing, bags, and bed coverings. Laura Watson Benedict, one of the first women in the United States to receive a Ph.D. in anthropology, kept meticulous field notes which are cross-referenced to field numbers on little papers painstakingly sewn onto the textiles she collected between 1906 and 1908. These field notes reveal an abundance of information about fibers, dyes, designs, and techniques, and also record the relationship between clothing and the wearer’s identity, social standing, and occupation. Benedict’s interest in documenting every aspect of the textile arts is manifested in the Philippine collection’s range. There are articles which demonstrate processes such as a tangkulo headcloth ready for tie-dyeing, and a finished tangkulo with its completed design, as well as beautifully ornamented garments such as an ompak ka mama jacket. Roy Hamilton, the leading American expert on Philippino textiles and a curator at the Fowler Museum (UCLA), recognizes Laura Benedict’s documentation as being an unparalleled resource for research. It is virtually impossible to mount an exhibition about the people of the Philippines without including a good number of textiles from the AMNH collection. Two recent exhibitions were From the Rainbow's Varied Hue: Textiles of Southern Philippines (curated by Hamilton, 1998, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, CA), and Sheer Realities: Clothing and Power in Nineteenth-Century Philippines (2000, Asia Society at the Grey Art Gallery, New York University).Images of 1,013 objects from the Philippines, mostly textiles from southern Mindanao and northern Luzon, may be viewed online by searching the Asian Ethnographic Collection database of the AMNH.