INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Museum of Art recently announced it will present "Majestic African Textiles," an exhibition featuring an array of garments, performance, and ritual cloths and beaded and embellished objects. The works are drawn from the IMA's extensive collection of textiles - one of the most distinguished in the country. The exhibition will be on view from May 3 of this year to March 2, 2014.
"The IMA has been collecting African textiles since 1918. 'Majestic African Textiles' will highlight a significant and diverse group of richly patterned and elaborately decorated north and sub-Saharan African textiles," said Niloo Paydar, curator of textile and fashion arts. "These textiles are considered significant symbols of status, power, and wealth."
"The IMA's long history of collecting African works of art has resulted in one of the finest and most comprehensive collections in the United States," said Charles L. Venable, Ph.D., The Melvin & Bren Simon director and CEO of the IMA. "We are excited to present these stunning textiles that will illuminate the many cultures of Africa through the weavers' art."
Featuring more than 60 pieces, "Majestic African Textiles" will celebrate the prestige and significance of these prized cloths in their respective cultures. This exhibition offers a presentation of the woven arts of the diverse African textile producing cultures of Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and South Africa.
Representing many African ethnic groups and organized geographically, the exhibition will include the following highlights:
- A tailored and embroidered Nigerian man's drawstring trousers with wide waist bands that serve as a prestige garment among the Hausa, Nupe, and other northern Nigerian men.
- A beaded royal Nigerian ceremonial tunic made of panels of imported velvet and wool. The beaded patterns are executed in a variety of designs including medals, crowns, faux epaulettes, flowers, and faces of Yoruba royal ancestors.
- Several examples of the colorful strip-woven cloths of the Asante and Ewe peoples of Ghana, popularly known as kente.
- A recently acquired, rare warrior's tunic from Ghana laden with a number of amulets that contained protective powers. Hunters, warriors, and soldiers who often had dangerous professions wore garments that were either painted with protective verses or adorned with objects that were believed to have magical powers.
Organized by the IMA, "Majestic African Textiles" will be on view in the museum's Gerald and Dorit Paul Galleries. The museum is at 4000 Michigan Road. For more information, call 923-1331 or visit the website www.imamuseum.org.