Central Asia’s textiles are rich with patterns influenced by the various cultures that traveled through or settled along the historic Silk Road. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the region experienced a renaissance in ikat, a technique where silk threads were bound and resist-dyed before weaving into cloth. The result were vivid textile patterns comprising blurred, cloud-like juxtapositions of color, called abrbandi (literally “cloud binding”). To create these distinctive textiles, artisans experimented with prevalent motifs in daily life and nature and distilled these shapes into compositions where color and contrast were emphasized.
Power of Pattern showcases over 60 examples of visually dynamic Central Asian ikat robes and panels, generous gifts from the David and Elizabeth Reisbord Collection. Organized by motif, the exhibition examines how the region’s textile designers, dyers, and weavers used improvisation and abstraction to create textiles truly unique to this region.