With select examples across Asia, Ceremonies and Celebrations will explore interesting ideas that can connect these vast regions together. The first section focuses on the connection between gender and textile production and the way that textiles are used to identify gender roles in society. The second idea that is explored in the exhibition is the role of textiles as a signifier of one’s status. The third theme looks at textiles worn or used in marking life transitions, including birth, weddings, and death. The final section illustrates the unique relationship between textiles and religions across Asia. Textiles help to identify religious practitioners and add beauty to religious spaces and rituals. By looking at textiles from these perspectives, rather than by their geographical associations, visitors will be able to see the creativity and the diversity of Asian textiles, while connecting meanings behind textiles from vastly different localities, and learn about why these textiles were made with such special cares and used in specific purposes.
Some of the highlights of the exhibition will be the imperial dragon robes worn by China’s emperors and imperial family during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). These robes feature nine powerful dragons, the symbol of the Emperor, embroidered or woven across the front and back of the silk robes. The yellow robes were the rarest of all, since the color yellow, symbolizing the sun, was worn exclusively by the Emperor. One such yellow robe, worn by the Guangxu Emperor (1875-1908) as a boy, will be on display.
The best examples in the USC PAM’s textile collection are rarely exhibited because of their fragile nature and the negative effect of light on the natural dyes used, and Ceremonies and Celebrations will provide visitors with an exceptional glimpse at those rarely seen textile collection.
The exhibition will accompany diverse programs, including lectures and demonstrations by Asian textile experts to highlight some of the featured textiles and techniques used and their history and free Family Festival.