"The past inside the present"
My current interest is in the application of quantitative and statistical techniques to understanding traditional culture, particularly weaving and textiles in Asia.
Over the past century or so, anthropological work and studies of textile art in particular have focused mainly on understanding cultures at an individual level. Little comparative work has been done, despite a wealth of observation and detail. In 2009-2012 I began a comparative study of warp ikat weaving in Southeast Asia, using a mixture of old-fashioned observation and some novel techniques borrowed from biology and linguistics. The resulting study was published at the end of 2012 in the PLoS (Public Library of Science) online journal, under the title "Investigating Cultural Evolution Using Phylogenetic Analysis: The Origins and Descent of the Southeast Asian Tradition of Warp Ikat Weaving". This paper can be viewed online or downloaded in pdf format (free of charge!).
My current project involves extending these kinds of approaches to new fields related to traditional textile production.
Many of the textiles on this website were purchased "in the field" as part of my ongoing research interests. To study textiles one must handle them and buying textiles (old and new) is a necessary activity.
From 2000-2009 I was involved in traditional crafts in Tibet. From this work came a book on furniture (see publications list below) and a short book on traditional crafts, and several papers on traditional Tibetan furniture, natural dyeing in Tibet and other topics. There is a full list on my Academia.edu page.
|Tibetan Furniture (Thames and Hudson, 2005). Available from Amazon and specialist booksellers.|
|Living Hands: Tibetan Arts and Artisans (Torana Publications, Hong Kong, 2011). A survey of contemporary arts and artisans in Tibet with photos of artisans at work and details of technique. Covers textiles, painting, metalworking and other crafts. 100 pages, in color throughout, Available from the author, price $15 plus postage.|