Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at Textile Society of America 11th Biennial Symposium: Textiles as Cultural Expressions, September 4-7, 2008, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Copyright © 2008 Jill D’Alessandro and Christina Hellmich


Non-loom techniques used by generations of women in New Guinea to create everyday necessities, and by men to fabricate sacred ritual objects reveal a mastery of the fantastic and ephemeral materials found in their island surrounds. Collectors Marcia and John Friede have amassed a collection of over 3000 works that comprise the Jolika collection of New Guinea Art at San Francisco’s de Young Museum including many historic tours de force made exclusively of plant fibers and materials. These works celebrate the rich and diverse local and regional artistic traditions based on core fabrication techniques of tapa making, plaiting, coiling, twining and looping. This cross-departmental research collaboration between the curator of textiles and the curator of Oceanic art expands our understanding of these multi-dimensional Oceanic textile masterpieces. In our jointly presented paper, we will discuss both the means of construction and the religious/cultural significance of a selection of works from the Jolika Collection of New Guinea art.