Traditional Textiles of Japan – The Thomas Murray Collection

Thomas Murray

Monday, March 9, 2020

Textiles are an eloquent form of cultural expression and of great importance in the daily life of a people, as well as in their rituals and ceremonies. The traditional clothing and fabrics featured in this lecture were made and used in the islands of the Japanese archipelago between the late 18th and the mid 20th century. The Thomas Murray collection includes daily dress, work-wear, and festival garb and follows the Arts and Crafts philosophy of the Mingei Movement, which saw that modernization would leave behind traditional art forms such as the hand-made textiles used by country people, farmers, and fisherman. The talk will present subtly patterned cotton fabrics, often indigo dyed from the main islands of Honshu and Kyushu, along with garments of the more remote islands: the graphic bark cloth, nettle fiber, and fish skin robes of the aboriginal Ainu in Hokkaido and Sakhalin to the north, and the brilliantly colored cotton kimonos of Okinawa to the far south. Numerous examples of these fabrics, photographed in exquisite detail, offer insight into Japan’s complex textile history as well as inspiration for today’s designers and artists. Thomas Murray will explore in this lecture the range and artistry of the country’s tradition of fiber arts and is an essential resource for anyone captivated by the Japanese aesthetic.

Thomas Murray is an independent researcher, collector and private dealer of Asian and Tribal art; his most recent book, “Textiles of Japan,” was met with critical acclaim. He also has an emphasis on Indonesian sculpture and textiles, as well as animistic art from other varied cultures, and Indian Trade Cloths from the 14th-18th Centuries. A HALI magazine contributing editor for the last 30 years, he serves as their “in-house” expert on all ethnographic textiles, with more than 50 publications. Thomas Murray is Past President of ATADA, The Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association and recently served a three-year term as a member of President Obama’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee at the United States State Department. Thomas continues to consult with museums and private clients internationally. He invites TMA/SC members to bring examples of traditional Japanese textiles for show & tell. Also, Thomas will be pleased to autograph his book for anyone who brings one to the program.