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Temporary Exhibition

Wearing Asia-The Exchange and Creation of Textiles
Wearing Asia-The Exchange and Creation of Textiles
Extension:Temporary Exhibition 2019/01/29~ 2019/07/28
Showroom: S304
Exhibition Description


Exhibition Description


  • Introduction

    Special Exhibition/ S304

    Wearing Asia-The Exchange and Creation of Textiles

    Fabric is essential for tailoring clothes. Before the Industrial Revolution, the production of textile was done in a very small scale and mostly at home. Nowadays, there are various ready made textile products available in the market, and people no longer have to work at a loom. As a result, fabrics have become simultaneously the most familiar yet strange materials to us. Through differences in spinning, dyeing, or the uniqueness of the ornamentation, even the pre-cut fabrics of ancient Asia can be decoded and identified to a particular culture, religion, gender or even occupation. What's even more interesting is that across the aesthetics of time and region, the spread of ancient fashion was far faster than we could have imagined. After all, fascinating things always have a way of becoming fashion. China had been famous for making smooth silk textile as precious as gold. These unique silk textile serves as a symbol of East Asian civilization. In South Asia, India produced premium quality dyed cotton fabric that was not only hugely popular throughout the world, but also helped launch a global revolution in cotton textiles. These cross-region trends and trends not only drove business opportunities, but also cultural influence. In Indonesia, which is thousands of miles between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, elements from different cultures and regions gather and flow, they being released out to the world again at the proper time.

    This exhibition presents the Asian fabrics and wardrobes in the National Palace Museum collection, including those from China, Japan, other regions within the cultural circles of East Asia, as well as the fabrics of India, Indonesia, and other countries in the South and Southeast Asian cultural circles. The three sections, "Thousand Threads - Superb Weaves and Embroideries of East Asia", "Vibrant - Dazzling Dyes of South Asia and Southeast Asia”, and “Circulation - The Cross-regional Influence of Ornamental Techniques and Art” introduces fabrics and wardrobes from different culture circles. Furthermore, they explore the cross-regional exchange and creation of fabrics amidst the flow of trade. In addition, an educational promotion area will showcase the "Splendid Textile - Common Decorative Techniques for Asian Fabrics" to introduce simple and easy techniques to decorate textile in Asia.

  • Thousand Threads-Superb Weaves and Embroideries of East Asia

  • Vibrant-Dazzling Dyes of South Asia and Southeast Asia

  • Circulation-The Cross-regional Influence of Ornamental Techniques and Art

  • Batik lower body wrapper with design of cloud on a red ground

  • Indonesia/Early 20th century
    Batik lower body wrapper with design of cloud on a red ground

    The Southeast Asian seas and the South China Sea have been the hub of trade exchange between Asia and Europe. Chinese migration to Indonesia began in the 16th century and peaked in the mid-nineteenth century. The majority of the immigrants came from the southeastern coastal areas of mainland China, particularly from the province of Fujian. Most of the overseas Chinese living in the northern region of Java Island ran fabric stores that specialized in batik (wax resist-dyeing). They produced beautiful and exquisite fabrics that are known for fine craftsmanship. The batik design often incorporated unique Chinese design motifs such as Xiang-yun (auspiciousclouds)andRui-shou(auspiciousanimals)tocreate one-of-its-kind design patterns.

    Historically, the port of Cirebon on the north shore of Java has maintained strong trade relations with China. The use of design motifs such as rain clouds, rocks, dragons and phoenixes in batik cotton fabric of Cirebon reflects the strong influence of Chinese culture. This work in the museum’s collection is an example of the region. The “Mega Mendung” (giant cloud pattern) symbolizes rain clouds and prayers for rain. The design features rich and vivid colors applied with the Chinese cloud coloring method. Different shades of the same color are used in combination with smudging and gradation technique to achieve a three-dimensional effect. Today, the “Mega Mendung” remains to be the most representative fabric design pattern of Cirebon.

  • Splendid Textile: Common Decorative Techniques for Asian Fabrics

    Weaving techniques

    Woven fabrics are often made of many threads woven on a warp and a weft. The lengthwise warp yarns are held stationary, while the transverse weft is inserted over-and-under the warp by using a shuttle. Fabrics are created by weaving together thousands of warp and weft yarns; they can be categorized into plain weave, twill weave, and satin wave, depending on how the yarns are intersected. By using warp and weft yearns of the same color but different floating lengths, one can create fabric patterns that are indistinct; yet, by applying the same method to yarns of different colors, one can produce distinct fabric patterns that are stylish and vibrant.

    Dyeing techniques

    Coloring is one the earliest decorative techniques humans have used since the dawn of time. Colorful and lively patterns on fabrics can be created by using techniques such as direct painting, color printing, or resist-dyeing. In resist-dyeing, methods including tie dyeing, stencil dyeing, wax resist-dyeing are used to prevent the dye from reaching all the cloth, thereby creating color contrast between the pattern and its background.

    Embroidery techniques

    Different from fabric dyeing, embroidery is the craft of decorating fabric by using a needle and thread to create three dimensional patterns. Embroidery allows for creative expression with a high degree of freedom. In embroidery, needles and thread are used to replace paint brushes, and a wide range of stitches can be applied similar to using different brush strokes on a canvas. By using stitching methods such as the plain stich, cross stich, knot stich, chain stich, and couching stich, threads of different colors and materials are turned into artistic creations that encapsulate humans’ imagination of the many wonders of the world.


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