Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



In Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2000


Copyright © 2000 by the author(s).


This paper, based on preliminary findings, attempts to show the dynamic processes of change and incorporation of new ideas and materials in the textiles of the Nagas of northeast India by comparing the contemporary textile trends with those seen in the Naga collection at the Pitt Rivers Museum (PRM) in Oxford.

The discussion derives from Emma Tarlo and Appadurai's views on museum collections and the role clothes play in a people's identity. Tarlo (Clothing Matters, 1996) writes that textile and clothes displays in museums often take the clothes out of their social, political and economic context. Following Appadurai (The Social Life of Things, 1986) she says that 'they rob clothes of much of their usual social life'. 'Clothes, which under normal course of events are exchanged, purchased, worn, stored and discarded, become ossified in the museum display case where their meanings often appears static and rigid' (Tarlo, ibid. 6). Thus, in the process making the notion of identity fixed and constrained.