Thursday, April 4, 2013

An Exploration in Patchwork

By Marin Hanson
IQSCM Curator of Exhibitions

An IQSCM team is going to China to study patchwork – but what does that mean, exactly?

Well that’s the exciting part, we sort of know what it’s about, but not exactly. Patchwork has been made all over China for centuries, but very little research has been done on it. Many people know about Chinese imperial and aristocratic textiles, such as dragon robes and intricate silk brocades, but the textiles of the common people, like patchwork, are less familiar.

Patchwork is definitely a tradition in the region our team is going to – Shaanxi Province, whose capital is Xi’an, the city near which the famous Terra Cotta Warriors were discovered and unearthed in the 1970s.

Here is a patchwork hanging embroidered and appliqued with a host of auspicious symbols – it is in the collection of our research partner – the Art Museum at Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU). Doesn’t the center look a lot like a Log Cabin–Pineapple variation?

We want to accomplish many things on our research trip:
  • identify historic examples of patchwork by visiting several museum collections
  • establish what kinds of patchwork are still being made today, especially for the tourist market
  • solidify our relationship with XJTU Art Museum with the goal of returning in the near future to continue our research
Keep an eye on our blog to find out how we’re progressing!

Marin Hanson is the Curator of Exhibitions at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She holds undergraduate degrees from Grinnell College and Northern Illinois University and earned her MA in museum studies and textile history with a quilt studies emphasis from UNL. She is currently pursuing doctoral research on cross-cultural quiltmaking practices, with particular emphasis on China and the United States.

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