Learn about a range of cultural textiles with MO Volunteer Associates, Marilyn Bild and Arlee Gale, as they take us inside the collections at MOA.
Textiles are one of humanity’s most universal innovations. Learn how the history of trade, spirituality, food, politics and the environment are influenced by the world of textiles. In this video, we look at a century-old bark cloth from the Solomon Islands; a classic Cantonese opera robe, a Tsimshian weaving and a knit Cowichan sweater. Whether it is made of gold and silk or bark and wool, all of these items have one thing in common: they hold the story of humanity inside their fibres and fabrication.
Watch the video below:
Marilyn Bild and Arlee Gale are MOA Volunteer Associates and Gallery Guides. In 2014 they established the museum’s Textile Committee and launched a public tour called Clothing the World.
Marilyn Bild has been a MOA Volunteer Associate for over 10 years. She started her MOA career on the Education Committee, presenting programs to school groups and is now a Gallery Guide. Marilyn has also held a number of executive positions on the MOA Volunteer Associates Council, including Education Committee co-chair, Continuing Education and Enrichment co-chair and Council president.
Arlee Gale has been a Volunteer Associate at MOA for 19 years. She has held many positions including Treasurer, Internal Coordinator and President. The experience of teaching textiles and clothing courses at UBC; owning a fabric store, and working with large garment manufacturers has given Arlee extensive knowledge of textiles. She joined MOA’s VAs hoping to work with the fabric collections and is now the co-founder of the Textile Committee at MOA.
zigotu (Tapa Cloth)
This tapa cloth, also called barkcloth, was made in 1909 in the Solomon Islands. The name is derived from the Samoan word tapa, which means the undecorated edge of a piece of barkcloth, and the Hawaiian word kapa, a variety of barkcloth. Tapa was probably brought to the Pacific Islands thousands of years ago by the ancestors. No important occasion is complete without the presence of tapa, and those who make it continue to generate techniques and designs that serve both utilitarian and ceremonial purposes.
gwishalaayt (Sala gamiilga gaax ganou)
William White (Tsimshian) began this weaving, his first Chilkat robe, in the summer of 2002 in the context of an exhibit at MOA entitled, “My Ancestors Are Still Dancing.” He and his brother David Oldfield spun the yarn for the robe’s warp in the exhibit, following from his earlier experience of weaving in ‘living exhibits’ at the Museum of Northern B.C.
Chilkat regalia has had a long history of use on the northern Northwest Coast. Robes, aprons, leggings, headbands, and bags are all made using this technique. They have long been items of high value to be worn by people of high rank on ceremonial occasions. They were given at potlatches, sometimes cut into pieces. This style of weaving is recognized as having originated with the Tsimshian people.
This is the first Cowichan sweater made by Christine Charles (Musqueam). She made it in 1950, and gave it as a gift to Dr. Harry Hawthorn, who noted: “she had watched others making them and offered to make this one for me. The birds in the design are swallows, she said. The cuffs were mended by Della Kew, her daughter, around 1970.”
fan gongzhuang (Cantonese Opera Transforming Robe)
This costume is one of a set of identical costumes called “Transforming Palace Robes,” “Faan Gung Jong,” in various colour combinations that were used in two splendid and auspicious performances, “Six Kingdoms Present a Chancellor,” or “Luhk Gwok Daaih Fung Seuhng,” and “The Celestial Fairy Presents a Son,” or “Tin Gei Sung Jih.” This particular robe was made in 1915, by Gam Leuhn Cheung and Gam San Gung Si. The appeal of the costumes, which were particular to Cantonese opera, was that they could transform on stage by reversing the double-sided flaps.