Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Textiles as Primary Sources: Proceedings of the First Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Minneapolis Institute of Art, September 16-18, 1988


Copyright © 1988 by the author(s).


As the manufacture and use of traditional hand-made textiles in their cultural contexts decreases around the world, we are trying to preserve some of the information for posterity through publication and video documentation. The work is urgent. The comparatively few age-old traditions that still survive have become the equivalent of endangered species.

Although the size and scope of each documentation project will vary according to what survives, three collaborative results are sought based on research and fieldwork. Each fulfills a distinct educational purpose and informs specific audiences, both scholars and the general public. Each will also increase the understanding of the critical role of the fabric(s) in traditional culture.

The first end product is a collaborative publication which will present the current textile practices and place them in broader historical and cultural contexts. It is intended for anyone interested in textiles and the humanities.

The two other end products are videos. The use of video is vital for documentary purposes since it records movement that is essential to manufacturing processes and cultural use. Still photos and slides are truly inadequate, as are lengthy verbal descriptions. While researchers will use video during fieldwork, the final videos for distribution will be taken by professionals.

The archival video will document patterns, manufacture and use of selected fabrics, from beginning to end, for textile specialists. It will be professionally taped following preplanned shot sequences for maximum clarity and minimal editing. A text with detailed descriptions of the video images in sequence written by the researchers will accompany the archival video for international distribution primarily to research facilities.

The documentary video with a narrative script will present the topic in the broadest context for a wider audience and distribution. The length will depend upon the project; some fabrics will be presented in 30 minute stories while others will be shown in 5 minute clips. Most of this video will be taken from the archival video with about 20 percent additional footage shot for broader cultural contexts.