Lecturer: Julia Brennan and Sarah Fee
Members are invited to bring related items, old or new, to show.
A large island situated at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is home to a varied and exciting textile tradition that contains strands of both Africa and Asia. Yet it remains little known to the outside world.
This talk will explore the rich history of women’s weaving in the island, which ranged from plain raffia smocks to sumptuous royal silks—and the social life of cloth (lambas) that has served as dress, marriage gift and
offerings to ancestors. Fisiky ty mahaondaty: “Cloth is what makes people,” the Malagasy say.
The speakers will transport us to an encounter with a conservation project that seeks to preserve this cultural link for the only remaining 19th century collection of lambas in Madagascar. Sited at the former Prime Minister’s Palace, a team of ten from four regional museums works with outdoor wash tanks, fragments of textiles, leaking roofs, no electricity, and a four week deadline to prepare for the first national exhibition.
An anthropologist by training, Sarah Fee has spent over four years in southern Madagascar studying textile arts and ceremonial gift exchange. The author of numerous works on these topics, in 2002 she curated the exhibit “Gift and Blessings, the Textile Arts of Madagascar” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.
Julia Brennan, owner of Textile Conservation Services, is based in Washington DC. She worked at the Textile Museum for six years in the conservation department before developing an independent business on her own. Her work takes her to places where conservation is much
needed, like Madagascar and Bhutan.