New York exhibit explores first global market: textiles

Wed Nov 6, 2013 1:24pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four centuries of textiles from Asia, Europe and the Americas are the focus of a new exhibition that explores the world's first truly global market - textiles.

"Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800," which runs through January 5 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, features 134 works, including wall hangings, bed covers, tapestries, church vestments, pieces of seating furniture, costumes, paintings and drawings.

Amelia Peck, curator of American decorative arts at the museum, said the use of textiles as currency to buy other goods created the first truly global trade.

"The exhibit highlights an important design story that has never before been told from a truly global perspective," Peck said in an interview.

The idea for the exhibit began when an eighteenth-century textile, once thought to be American and then attributed to English producers, turned out to have come from India.

After Peck realized a market for Asian fabrics had existed in America in the eighteenth century, she studied the museum's own collection and discovered many textiles had been made in one place for sale to people in a different place and culture.

India produced certain textiles for Indonesia that Dutch traders could trade to buy spices from Indonesians.

Peck also discovered that textiles were used to buy people.   Continued...