TEXTILES, TRADE AND TASTE
TEXTILES, TRADE AND TASTE


The idea of Textiles, Trade and Taste arose in 2011 when a group of us who are really the founders of TTT we came together to work on a group of
carpets that were discovered in the Paço dos Duques de Bragança in Guimarães. These three Salting carpets were determined to be authentic examples of the 17th century and we worked together as a team to conserve them but also to bring them to life as historical carpets of cultural relevance, and to bring them to the attention
of the minister of culture so that they could be classified as National Treasures. And it was precisely this dynamic
of interdisciplinary research that has become the backbone of this research project or this research group and all of us work together collaboratively
sharing our knowledge to make all of us richer and the work that we do more diverse and interesting. After the Portuguese arrived in
India in 1498 new goods were introduced into Portugal. Especially textiles from
India, Iran and China. Many of these objects can still be found in Portuguese and international collections. They reflect historical, technical, material
and artistic relationships which still require investigation. Along with research, TTT also promotes dissimination and encourages interest in these topics. I am here here in front of the jewel in the crown of the carpet collection of our Museum. It’s a small silk Kashan carpet at least that’s what they’re described as, as Kashans. In fact we know that there were carpets
made in Kashan in Iran, but probably not these ones. The name has stuck nevertheless. It is especially remarkable for its manufacture, it has some 10 000 knots per square decimeter, and is made exclusively of silk, has a very beautiful shiny sheen on the surface of it. The design is inspired by the art of the book and you can see a central medallion
in the middle of the carpet and four quarter medallions in the corners and a beautiful border encircling the main field. This comes from the art of bookbinding. And then the motifs come both from Persian art as well as from Chinese influence as a result of the Mongol invasions and the Silk Road. So you can see phoenixes and dragons and pixies and other kinds of mythical Chinese beasts This carpet is not only remarkable in terms of its materials and the remarkable silk with which it’s made but also in terms of its design. And although it appears to be symmetrical in fact if you look more closely you’ll see that there are small differences in similar elements. This is because it was not made with a knot plan or by singing knots to a workshop. It was made by interpreting a painting. So if we look here we see two flowers on either side of the palmette element and the flower on the right is more horizontal in form while
the flower on the left is more vertical. And that’s because they were knotted
by two different people who were interpreting the same drawing but in slightly different ways. And so we know that these weavers were not doing their work
exclusively in a mechanical way but they were interpreting, much as a painter would,
interpreting a drawing on a canvas. And they were highly paid as a result for the high skill involved in this process of interpretation. Surprisingly, from the middle of the 16th century the Chinese began to produce in accordance with Portuguese taste. Many of these pieces still exist in Portugal today. particularly in churches,
destined for catholic worship. Besides these pieces made according to instructions sent, there were many others produced for the interior decoration of households. Therefore, furnishing pieces. The piece we are looking at is
a great example of this production, from the 18th century, and shows us the well known gold laminated paper thread,
these works were elaborated with. We can imagine why they were considered to be exquisite at the time,
given their brilliance due to the massive presence of gold on those pieces. They were very much appreciated in Portugal and even today several survive. The truth is that there is a less representative group of works whose material and technical solutions bring some doubts about their production and therefore the way they were obtained. For this reason the TTT, as an interdisciplinary group, promotes research which considers the objects along with the documentation and the material analyses. This way we are trying to understand the justification of these apparent differences from a material and technical point of view. This raises the question of globalization, of the circulation
of textiles through different marketing channels which are not restricted to China and Portugal alone. With other methods, with other variants
which may help further clarification
through this collaborative work. My name is Ana Claro and I am
a conservation scientist. My work includes the analysis of textiles with the aim of connecting the knowledge of history, conservation and the exact sciences, namely chemistry. Usually I am the one collecting the samples together with the museum curator or conservator, and we always try to have
a specific analysis namely by color. There should be taken at least three samples of
each representative color. We try to take it from a lacuna area to damage as little as possible the embroideries, in this case. We try to take the samples from the back side of the textile,
because since it is protected from the light the colors degrade less. As you can see the contrast here, for the analysis it’s better to choose the less faded color. The purpose of the analysis is not only to create a database so that we can compare the actual samples. We construct the reference samples, using the historic documentation or
our knowledge of other pieces which have already been identified,
and then we analyze our samples to compare with this database. Not having a database
it’s almost impossible to characterize the colors we have. After verifying which dyes have been used in these textiles we also try to identify their age and what other similar textiles we can corraborate
and verify if they have all been dyed by the same workshop or in the same place, trying to
perceive the Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian or even South American influence they have had on textiles and the routes that were being established. I’m Paula Monteiro,
I’m a textile conservator-restorer. I work at the José de Figueiredo Laboratory which belongs to
the Directorate General for Cultural Heritage. We are collaborating
with Textiles, Trade and Taste specifically on the analysis of coverlets of Castelo Branco. As a collaborator I am working with other technicians in this case to technically analyze the fabric in which
the embroideries of Castelo Branco were made. This collaboration is fundamental for us,
not only because it crosses conservation and restoration, but also because we have to know
what kind of techniques are there to conserve, consolidate and to restore.
So we are managing to join in other areas not only history but
history of art, the technical area as well, the know-how…
Nothing better than to cross all of this knowledge to
conserve and preserve our textile heritage. In the case of the Museum of Portuguese Decorative Arts, projects like these are very welcome. Not only for the development of
our inventory datasheets, to get to know them better, but also to share the passion that the founder had for all the pieces he collected, with different publics. There is a monograph that we would
like to do and I believe that this project will help
by contributing to its scientific content. Besides that the TTT is valuable for those of us who are managing the collections since they are bringing a fresh and different perspective, which is transversal and follows the way research is being conducted
in universities today. For me the TTT
plays a very important role in promoting events related to textiles.
In the last project I was directly involved, the exhibition “The Flowers of the Emperor: From the Bulb to the Carpet”, the TTT was very important for its dissemination and also for the organization
of a thematic visit that came to the exhibition and that was very interesting. My name is Ana Kol. I am the curator of the textile collection of the National Museum of Ancient Art. The Museum maintains an almost
genetic relationship with TTT, based on affection
for the collection itself. Over the years there have been several collaborative projects between the TTT and the Museum, through the research studies, the exhibitions, the production of catalogues
and we will continue to work with the TTT on the reopening of the gallery of textiles
and in the future.

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