Curator of Exhibitions
We spent the morning at Xi'an Jiaotong University Art Museum, going on a tour of their beautiful new facility and having a meeting with the staff about possible future collaborations. At the meeting, we gave Vice Director Li a gift for their museum's collections: a nineteenth-century American Log Cabin quilt.
They reciprocated with a quilt for our collections: a thirty-year-old bai jia bei, or "One Hundred Families Quilt."
It was made by a woman in Gansu Province for her son, who was once a student at XJTU and is now an art professor specializing in Chinese calligraphy. This was a really exciting moment for me, because although I had heard about a bai jia bei tradition, and we had seen new ones being made at the village we visited yesterday, I had never seen an old one. This is the confirmation I've been looking for that this is a tradition that has been around a long time.
It is a small, fairly plain quilt, but it is wonderful to me because it was made especially for a child's everyday use. It is evidence of an embedded tradition, proof that patchwork bedcovers are not simply a tourist market craft. Even if we find nothing else in our remaining days, I'm feeling like we've had some true success on this research trip.
It was a really good day, and I am so grateful to our XJTU Art Museum partners -- they've been wonderful collaborators on this project.
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.