Textile Museum Associates of Southern California
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"Li Textiles of Hainan: Seeking the Source of Austronesian Iconography"
                       with Thomas Murray
                             of Asiatica Ethnographica, San Francisco


T
he Li of Hainan Island (off the south coast of China) are categorized as one of China's 55 ethnic minorities. They are speakers of the Tai language group, making them most closely related to peoples of mainland SE Asia like the Tai Lao and the Thai, but their iconography is strongly Austronesian, more related to Indonesia. They use a foot brace back strap loom, the most archaic known (very similar to the Bronze Weaver acquired by the National Gallery of Australia in recent years) and thought by them to be Early First Millennium, although this is considered controversial by Dr Brown of LACMA.  The Li use embroidery, ikat and supplementary weft designs to great effect, with many zoomorphic and anthropomorphic images prevailing.  Thomas Murray will offer an introduction to Li culture, history and prehistory; a survey of the primary Li-dialects and their textile techniques and styles; an analysis of Li costume motifs and their relation to the most important of Indonesian textile iconography from Timor to Lampung; and the revelation of his new insight into the "structure/iconography: what comes first?" debate.

Thomas Murray is a well-known Indonesian Tribal Art dealer with a scholarly bent.  For 28 years he has supported his independent research through the sale of tribal art and textiles with a primary focus on Indonesia; he has placed objects in more than 30 museums on four continents. A HALI Magazine Contributing Editor with over 45 publications to his name, Murray has lectured the world over, most recently at the ICOC Conference in Istanbul and at the International Textile Conference at the Jakarta Museum Nasional on “Ottoman Influences on Islamic Calligraphic Batik,” which he also presented to TMA/SC members last year.  He is currently president of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association (ATADA), an ethically based organization. 

 

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