The Language of East Asian Textile Design
Lecture by
Lee Talbot
July 20, 2008

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Lee Talbot, Assistant Curator, Eastern Hemisphere Collections, The Textile Museum

The Language of East Asian Textile Design

The silk garments and furnishings created in dynastic East Asia include some of the most spectacular examples of weaving and embroidery in world textile history. While these silks provided practical function and aesthetic enjoyment for their original owners and users, they also conveyed specific messages that would have been readily understood by an educated viewer at the time. This lecture presents a selection of Chinese and Korean silks in The Textile Museum collection and considers some of the meanings and associations they may have held for their original audiences. This talk demonstrates that when we examine Chinese and Korean luxury silks in light of cosmological beliefs current in dynastic East Asia, we can view textile forms, colors, and patterns as a system of visual signs closely linked to a system of ideas about society, the cosmos, and the relationship between the human and cosmic spheres.

Lee Talbot is Assistant Curator of Eastern Hemisphere Collections at The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., where he specializes in East Asian textiles. Before joining The Textile Museum staff, he spent two and a half years as curator at the Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum at Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul, Korea. He is a Ph.D. candidate at The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture in New York City, and is writing his dissertation on textiles and women's culture in Joseon-dynasty Korea.

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