At the next Oriental Rug and Textile Society lecture  Sandra Niessen will talk on Batak Textiles, ‘Celebrating Cultural Legacy: The Bulang: from Cast-off to Art’

Sandra Niessen, PhD., an anthropologist,  started studying the textiles of the Batak people of North Sumatra in 1980. During the ensuing 40 years the Batak weaving arts continued their drastic decline and are now extinct in many areas. Since publishing her encyclopaedic work on this tradition, entitled Legacy in Cloth, Batak textiles of Indonesia, Sandra has felt impelled to change her focus from research to revival and maintenance of the Batak arts.

Sandra will focus on the bulang, the headcloth worn by the Simalungun Batak people (the people living to the East of Lake Toba).  She has built a small house in Nagori Tongah so that she can spend time in this very poor village that used to specialise in the making of this textile. To date, Sandra has found only one weaver prepared to pick up the loom once again after a hiatus of 15 years and that weaver made two wonderful bulang textiles for the recent exhibition on “A World of Looms: Weaving Technology and Textile Arts in China and Beyond” at the China National Silk Museum. Sandra will discuss her aspirations and challenges in trying to keep the textile from going extinct.

Details of the venue
Talks are  held at the St. James Conference Rooms, 197 Piccadilly W1J 9LL London. The Conference Rooms entrance is within the corner of Church Place and Piccadilly at a wrought iron gate signed ‘Church Hall Conference Room’ leading down iron stairs below street level. Doors open from 6.0 p.m.  Drinks and snacks are served for a donation.  Both Green Park and Piccadilly tube stations are a short walk away.  Free parking in St James Square and Jermyn Street after 6.30 p.m . Non-members welcome to attend for £7 a single lecture,  Students £5.  Membership of one year for 11 events at £20.