Textile Museum Associates of Southern California
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Saturday, April 13, 2013

10 a.m.  Refreshments   10:30 a.m.  Program

“The Magic Power of Large Medallion Suzanis”

with

Gisela Helmecke

Curator of Textiles, Metalwork and Epigraphy,

Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin

Suzani are among the most fascinating groups of embroidered textiles in the Islamic world. They were, and still are, created in Central Asia mainly by Uzbek and Tadjik women, and were originally made as dowry pieces to showcase the embroiderer’s skill.  In their decorative functions, which are often close to those of carpets, we find a rich world of ornamentation, inspired by local traditions and courtly Islamic Art, found mainly in Iran and Mughal India. Every region and town has its own style, and every style is beautiful, but the most fascinating and impressive is the so-called large medallion suzani.  The name refers to the large, fully embroidered main field.  These embroideries make a deep impression on the viewer because of their strong colors and inner harmony. Dr. Helmecke’s presentation will discuss the appeal of these embroideries and specific aspects of their design.

Gisela Helmecke holds a degree in the Science of Art History from Humboldt University in Berlin.  She is a longtime curator in the Museum of Islamic Art In Berlin, where she supervises the departments of textiles (not including carpets,) metalwork and epigraphy.  She has organized many exhibitions of Islamic art, which have been shown in museums throughout the world, and she has traveled to numerous countries of the Islamic world.  Ms Helmecke has published extensively.  She has contributed to many exhibition catalogues, including “A Wealth of Silk and Velvets,” which accompanied a major exhibition of Ottoman textiles in Hamburg, Germany.  In 2009 she published a small volume on large medallion suzanis exhibited in the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin, and in 2010 she published “Splendour of Colour and Silk,” the catalogue which accompanied an exhibition of Ottoman embroidery shown in the L. A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem.  Gisela Helmecke is a member of the International Research Group “Textiles from the Nile Valley.”


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