The cultural story: “Clothing and Culture in South Asia”

Detail of Amlikar Shawl

Detail of Amlikar Shawl. Jammu and Kashmir, India. 1840-1870. Cashmere, 74 x 74 in. Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. 1985.3.19. University of Wisconsin-Madison. All Rights Reserved.

The cultural story of South Asia as told through its clothing and textiles is the focus of a special exhibit and gallery talk Friday, March 4, 2011, at the Koehnline Museum of Art at the Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois. Senior Academic Curator Maya Lea of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection (HLATC) will speak on the stunning group of textiles the collection has loaned for the event. She will provide an overview of the exhibition, “Clothing and Culture in South Asia,” highlighting textiles of particular significance.

Lea’s specialties are Indian, Islamic and Japanese textiles and textile trade. She is excited to share South Asian dress—its variety, techniques and artistry. A sumptuous 19th-century Kashmiri shawl, a lovingly embroidered child’s vest from the Kohistan frontier, the color-drenched chic of a Kanchipuram sari and a bejeweled headdress from the mountains of Ladakh all tell us about their wearers and the worlds they inhabited.

If you would like to attend this special reception and curator’s gallery talk, please contact Susan Owen. The cost of the event is $35 and reservations are being accepted until noon on Monday, February 28, 2011.

The exhibit is courtesy of the HLATC and presented by Oakton’s Global Studies Program with support from the federal Pathways to South Asia Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Grant initiatives. Please see for driving directions and parking locations. Helen Louise Allen was a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1927-1968 and a pioneer in the study of textiles. For more information on the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, please visit