Textiles in Tibet TibetanMaterialHistory ProfessorGrayTuttle ByElizabethMedina*

Cloth nCanvas nCorduroy nVelvet nLeather nFelt nSilk Cotton Function & Purpose nWhat were each of these textiles mainly used to make in Tibet? nGiven the unique characteristics of each type of textile: nDo the properties of a textile make it particularly suited for use in making a certain item? n nDo practical concerns for the function of an item outweigh the traditional craft and construction of the item? nWhat purpose did the items made from each particular textiles serve? nHow have the function and purpose of these items changed and/or evolved over the years, within the context of Tibetan tradition and culture? nForm & Style nGiven the effect that the type of textile used has on the form and appearance of an item: nWere certain textiles reserved for making traditional, seasonal or ceremonial items? nWhich textiles were used for: ntraditional,n seasonal items and ceremonial items? nHow has the form and style of these items changed over the years? nHow similar or different is the style of Tibetan clothing when compared to inhabitants of the surrounding areas?

*This project is currently under construction, though the finished product should roughly follow this outline. The goal of this project is to unite the research from two separate object biographies under the general category of textiles . The object biographies were written on a pair of Boots and a Tibetan Silk Dancing Dress, which are both in storage at the American Museum of Natural History. My hope is that by providing general, easily accessible information about various textiles (that continue to be used in the production of materials in Southeast Asia) to other students (especially those undergraduate students who are new to the field), that they will be more informed and more curious to research and explore other material objects. As the research continues, perhaps we can further relate the rich culture of Tibet to contemporary clothing and traditional costumes.

Classification of Materials:



An American diplomat, W.W.Rockhill, who was influential in thought and action to the Far East once said, the natural conditions have exercised a marked influence on the degree of culture of Tibet and must not be lost sight of in any study of the inhabitants. Rockhill’s idea is vitally important in researching discussing traditional Tibetan clothing or outerwear, such as boots and dresses.

Related pages:

[1] Notes on the Ethnology of Tibet by W.W. Rockhill P. 673