on December 31, 2010
I cannot properly express how moved I am by this book--Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles--which I received for Christmas. From the physical aspect of it to the text it is steeped in a sort of concentrated quiet and beauty--a real beauty, as though the book were weaving itself out of knowledge accumulated over decades, consciously and unconsciously. The fabrics themselves are astonishing. I am only afraid that after looking at them closely it will be hard to look at any fabrics woven now, extraordinary though some of them may of course be. With these Indonesian ones the fineness of designs seems to come from a combination of so many layers of ritual, inspiration, and tradition that to look at them is to be drawn into a new (to me) universe of symbols and beliefs which I'll at least be able to study through the text.
It is a perfect book and if I were to save a few of all the ones I own this would be one of them--I am learning so much.
on June 12, 2011
A remarkable book. Just released, it has become the defining work in Indonesian textile studies. The book is filled with lush and evocative images of one of the world's great Indonesian textile collections. The collection was lovingly gathered over the years by the pioneer of Indonesian textile appreciation, Mary Hunt Kahlenberg. The accompanying descriptions are written by the top scholars and enthusiasts in the field, all well known for their passion for Indonesia. For textile collectors it's a major addition to the library. For beauty lovers it's an aphrodesiac fantasy trip through the world's greatest and least understood textile traditions. Throughout the collection the heightened sensitivity and knowledgable hand of MHK is shown in her inimitable and rarefied taste. It can be read straight through but I like to dip into it periodically for a special textile buzz.
on June 15, 2011
Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles is the essential work on the subject of Indonesian textiles. The aesthetic caliber and historical significance of the material assembled and displayed in this text will likely never be matched. This publication is emblematic of the deepest kind of veneration, attention to detail, and care on the part of Mary Hunt Kahlenberg, Dr. Ruth Barnes, and the many other contributors and collaborators who made this one of the greatest books on textiles ever produced. Bravo!!!
on June 8, 2011
As an artist in the field of textiles, I find this book to be a gem. The innovations and spirit of exploration that these weavers going back 500 years have left us, is invaluable. As we go forward, it behooves us to also look back for inspiration. All too often today's textile art is so easily produced, it gives but a short moment of pleasure . A young person interested in the field today, would do very well to study this book, and aim higher by going deeper. It is not just a matter of pretty designs, it is a matter of understanding both the culture that produced it, and the advanced structures it created. And being willing to spend the time it takes to become a master.
As Indonesia rushes forward to join the rest of the modern world, I am afraid a lot of ancient hand-skills will be forgotten. A book like this reminds us of what is being lost. I hope this will be appreciated by people who have the means to help slow down the rush towards progress, and alleviate great cultural losses before it is too late.
Mary Kahlenberg has done the field of textiles a magnificent service.
on July 28, 2013
A great addition to the literature on Indonesian textiles. The latest, up to date and informative book. Nicely presented in a cloth cover. The printed illustrations of the textiles could have been of better quality, but for those who are familiar with the textiles that should not be a problem. Bothersome are the way references are made to the PLATES throughout the publication. The reference in the text to a PLATE is very often not close to where the plate is located, so one spends much time looking for the appropriate PLATE. It could have been made much easier and efficient for the reader if there had been a page number included with the reference to a PLATE.