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Museum program to explore Central Asia textiles

May 10th, 2023

Mary Dusenbury

Kauffman Museum’s current special exhibit, “Reeds & Wool: Patterned Screens of Central Asia,” closes May 28, with a final focus planned in a program on May 21 given by Mary M. Dusenbury, Ph.D., from the University of Kansas.

Dusenbury will give a Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum program at 3 p.m. in the museum auditorium.

She is an affiliate research curator at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. She will speak May 21 on “Of Wool & Silk: Textile Explorations in Central Asia.”

In 2009, Dusenbury and three colleagues travelled through the deserts of Xinjiang in northwest China to the vibrant trading city of Kashgar, before driving over the Torugart Pass in the Tien Shan mountains to the high summer pastures of Kyrgyzstan to stay in a herder’s yurt for several days.

They continued through Kyrgyzstan, looking at felt-making, to the markets of Osh in the Fergana Valley on the border of Uzbekistan, where the town of Osh had just celebrated its 3,000-year anniversary.

In the Fergana Valley, they stayed with a weaver and his family in Margilan while investigating ikat weaving and silk rearing in more detail than had been possible previously.

This journey complemented previous trips to look at archaeological textiles in Xinjiang (2002), and examine ikat weaving and other textile production in Uzbekistan (2008).

Dusenbury has degrees from Harvard and the University of Kansas. Her work focuses on archaeological, historic and contemporary Asian textiles and their cultural context. She has lectured widely in the United States, the UK, Europe and Asia.

In addition to articles and book chapters, her publications include Flowers, Dragons and Pine Trees: Asian Textiles in the Spencer Museum of Art (Hudson Hills Press, 2004) and, as editor and project director, Color in Ancient and Medieval East Asia (Spencer Museum of Art, distributed by Yale University Press, 2015), the culmination of a five- year international and interdisciplinary study.

Dusenbury is a member and past president of the Textile Society of America, and a member of the Oxford Asian Textile Group and the Centre International D’étude des Textiles Ancient (CIETA) in Lyon, France.

She currently serves on the international editorial board of the Textile Museum Journal and on the advisory board of the Spencer Museum.

The May 21 program is free and open to the public.

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are Tues.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 1:30-4:30 p.m., closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the special exhibit, “Reeds & Wool: Patterned Screens of Central Asia,” and the permanent exhibits – “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” – is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. The museum store is open during the museum’s regular hours. See or the museum Facebook page for more information.

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