The Oriental Rug & Textile Society of Great Britain was established in 1977 to encourage enthusiasm and interest in carpets and textiles of Asia and the Middle East. The Society is now concerned with carpets and textiles of the whole world. 


We aim to advance understanding of the processes of making carpets and textiles, and promote knowledge of the traditional centres of weaving through specialist talks and in the pages of our journal.

The Society organises visits to museums, auction houses and private collections. Curators have always been exceptionally generous with their time and expertise, showing us treasures not normally seen by the public. 


Our overseas visits have included trips to Turkey, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Morocco, France, Armenia, Egypt, India, Iran and, most recently, Kyrgyzstan.

Do join us!


From Sarong to Sari: Rabindranath Tagore's fascination with the batik of Java: a talk by Maria Wronska-Friend

25 May 2021 at 18.00 (UK time).  


In 1927 Rabindranath Tagore visited Java and Bali and became fascinated with the local culture. He found that many traditions that had disappeared in India, were still flourishing in Indonesia (India, for more than a millennium, exercised a pronounced cultural impact on Indonesian islands). In particular, Tagore became interested in Javanese batik. He collected several dozens of Javanese batiks and on return to Santiniketan in West Bengal, he supported the introduction of the batik technique into the curriculum of the local art school. The new technique has been embraced in Santiniketan with great enthusiasm and resulted in the production of thousands of stunning saris, stoles, fitted garments and decorative fabrics. Batik production in West Bengal continues until today and during the last three decades it grew into a significant cottage industry that provides employment to thousands of people.


Maria Wronska Friend is an anthropologist and museum curator with a particular interest in people’s relationship to their material culture. She has been associated with James Cook University since 1992, initially as a Lecturer at the Material Culture Unit in Townsville and currently as an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the College of Arts, Society and Education at Cairns Campus.