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Emerald  

Gordon Campbell

Green variety of Beryl, mined in Upper Egypt and India from antiquity and in Colombia both before and after the Spanish Conquest. Nero is said to have watched gladiatorial contests through an emerald. The two best-known emeralds are the Devonshire Emerald (London, Nat. Hist. Mus.) and the Patricia Emerald (New York, Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist.). The most famous historical emeralds are the 453 emeralds (totalling ...

Article

Jargon  

Gordon Campbell

Article

Linda Mowat

Term for a colourful appliqué blouse worn by Kuna Indian women on the mainland and San Blas Islands of Panama and in the Darien region of north-western Colombia. Mola is the Kuna word for cloth, but it also applies to the woman’s blouse and the front and back panels from which it is made. Mola blouses first appeared in the second half of the 19th century. Although made from European trade cloth, they were an indigenous development, and their complex patterns relate to earlier body paint designs.

Mola panels are hand-stitched, using cutwork and appliqué techniques. Two or more layers of different-coloured fabric are used. Each layer is cut to the shape of the design and stitched to the layer beneath, so that motifs may be outlined in a number of colours. Embroidery is sometimes added to the top layer. The stitching is extremely fine, and no fabric is wasted. The front and back panels of a blouse are usually similar, but never the same. Design subjects include mythological patterns, birds, animals, plants, people and scenes from daily life. Advertisements, magazines, political posters and biblical themes often provide inspiration. The finished front and back panels are made up with a yoke and sleeves of plain or printed fabric....

Article

Dominique Collon

Hoard of some 180 items of jewellery and precious objects, mostly dating from c. 550 to c. 330 bc, found in the banks of the River Oxus (Amu Darya) in Bactria in 1877; most are now in the British Museum in London. The exact find-spot is uncertain but was possibly Takht-i Kubad in south-west Tajikistan. The treasure, thought to have been part of a temple hoard, possibly from the Temple of Anahita in Bactra (now Balkh), may have been buried during disturbances in the late 4th century, or perhaps as late as the early 2nd century bc. This discrepancy is due to doubts as to whether some 1500 coins, ranging in origin from Athens to Bactria and in date from c. 500 to c. 180 bc, were part of the original hoard. After its discovery the treasure was taken by merchants to Afghanistan, where they were robbed. Most of it was rescued by a British officer, Capt. ...

Article

Shawl  

Pamela Clabburn

Garment, originally of Indian origin, consisting of a square or oblong piece of fabric worn loosely over the head or shoulders. As articles of fashionable dress, shawls were not known in Europe until the last quarter of the 18th century. They had, however, been worn since the late 16th century in India, especially in Kashmir and other parts of the north, by both men and women, thrown over the head with one end over the shoulder. Indian shawls are finely and intricately woven, using a technique similar to that used in Europe for tapestries (see Textile §II 1.). The designs are in rich, strong but never harsh colours, and the grounds in off-white or in many subtle shades, especially deep yellow and nutmeg brown. Their main beauty, however, is the fine, soft wool from which they were woven. At its best (and most expensive) the wool came from the underbelly of the mountain goat, which grazed high up in the Himalayas. The higher the grazing, the finer the wool produced. The next best came from the flocks of goats herded by nomadic tribes....

Article

Transculturalism proposes an approach to contemporary Asian art practices that addresses the conditions defining the modern experience of Asian artists living and working outside of their home countries. It is a term derived from the word transculturation, which describes the process of adjustment and re-creation that arises from the convergence of different cultures. The term became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a period defined by major social changes wrought by globalization, increased mobility and ethnic intermingling that affected local community networks in both home and host countries, and also an upsurge in interest paid to contemporary art in and out of Asian countries.

Cuban anthropologist and humanist Fernando Ortiz (1881–1969) developed the concept of transculturalism in the 1940s, when he coined the term transculturation in a pioneering description of Afro-Cuban culture (Contrapunto cubano del tabaco y el azúcar, 1947). Ortiz devised the term to counter the notion of acculturation introduced by the British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (...