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Lecture–Lunch Series: Encounters with Asia—Islamic Lands Dressed Up

April 19, 2017
Nichols Board of Trustees Suite
$75 per person, per program

Luxury textiles were symbols of power, wealth, and status in Islamic lands where they set standards of beauty and drove economies, fueling prosperity and urbanization. They were essential embellishments in lavish ceremonial pageantry, dressing up rulers and their courts, palaces, and tents. Gold textiles served as predecessors of the red carpet, covering the pathways of receptions. Islamic dress incorporated the distinct styles of vast territories, such as loose untailored garments, tunics and wraps, and fitted sleeved garments with trousers. Rulers frequently bestowed elaborate robes of honor, composed of multiple items of dress, as symbols of status on courtiers and visiting dignitaries to mark significant occasions. This presentation features a rich variety of luxury textiles that were vital components in dressing up the Islamic lands. 

Louise Mackie is one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic textiles. She recently retired from the Cleveland Museum of Art, where she served since 1998 as curator of their renowned textile collection and also as curator of Islamic art. She previously held senior curatorial positions at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. Her most recent book, Symbols of Power: Luxury Textiles from Islamic Lands, 7th–21st Century, represents the first comprehensive survey of the subject. She holds a BA in art history from Wells College and an MA in Islamic art from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

This is the third program of the four-part lecture-luncheon series. Registration for each event includes lecture, regionally-specific luncheon, and a paired glass of wine.

About Encounters with Asia

Dressing Up: Ceremony and Celebration is the fifth annual lecture-luncheon series co-organized by the Department of Asian Art and its affiliate organization, the Asian Art Council. It is the first series to span multiple Asian cultures: Japanese, Chinese, Islamic, and Indian. Speakers will consider various aspects of “dressing up,” taking into account issues of functionality, social status, and artistic significance. Subjects will include attire, accessories, and ritual objects distinctive to these cultures and to both the living and the dead.

Other lectures in the Encounters with Asia series:

April 5 “Dressing Up: Celebrating Japan’s Enduring Kimono”—Sharon S. Takeda
April 12 “How Much Does a Chinese Hairpin Weigh?”—Eugene Y. Wang
April 26 “Dressing Up the Gods in India”—Madhuvanti Ghose

For more information, please contact the Asian Art Council at or 312-443-7282.


Embroidered Surcoat, Khalat, 1800s.
Uzbekistan, Shahr-i Sabz, 19th century
Silk; cross-stitch, embroidery; overall: 150.00 x 218.40 cm (59 x 85 15/16 inches)
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Wade 1916.1412