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February 21st 2024: Lecture by Martin Conlan at 18.00 for 18.30

Tribal wedding blankets of South West China

Wedding blankets are often intricately woven, embroidered or resist-dyed decorative panels attached to the top of a quilt cover. They play a central role in the marriage customs and traditions of many communities in southwest China. For the scores of tribal groups inhabiting the remoter areas of the region, preserving their cultural identity has been a perennial challenge through historical transformations. 

In the absence of written languages, the language of textiles assumed paramount significance. The adornments on textiles often signify geographical origin or social status and preserve the historical narrative of ancestors. 

During festivals, when these textiles are worn in dances and dramas, they become vital conduits of culture for the young and reinforce ancestral narratives for adult community members. Some communities have textile lineages spanning thousands of years, embodying memories woven into cloth. Within this rich tradition, wedding blankets hold a steadfast place, symbolically reinforcing cultural identity, and are central to the continuation of traditional customs.  

Martin Conlan, an expert and dealer specializing in textiles from tribal groups in southwest China, has explored some of the communities close to the borders of Vietnam, Laos, and Burma extensively for numerous years. His research delves into the extraordinary textiles crafted and utilized by various groups residing in these regions. 



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