Today my dad suggested going to see a movie, but the only thing that vaguely interested me was the Bond film, which he’d already seen, so I did a little online research and discovered that there’s a textiles museum in DC! So we went there instead, and spent three hours talking to one of the docents there. They had a fantastic exhibition of Chin textiles (the Chin being a hilltribe in western Myanmar (Burma)) and another interesting exhibit of carpet fragments. It was really cool being able to inspect the fabrics up close – the Chin weavings were all done on a backstrap loom, but have beautifully complex patterning which I suspect was hand-picked (!). Beautiful finework – my floral shawl pales in comparison. The sheer amount of time required to create those is staggering.
More importantly, I came away from the talk with the contact info for two people: one expert on Indonesian textiles, and another on Indian textiles. The docent also promised to send me the email address of the person who did the Chin exhibit, so that I can find out whether an individual tour of the Chin areas is possible. I’m definitely getting a bunch of great ideas for my next trip. I’ll have more time to research that thoroughly.
I can’t understand why more people don’t travel. It’s enormously fun, and you can learn a lot – you just have to scratch under the surface of the usual touristy stuff.