The Frist Museum of Art presents rare textiles from a renowned collection of Asian art

The Frist Museum of Art presents Weaving Splendor: Treasures of Asian Textiles from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, an exhibition of Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Persian, and Turkish textiles drawn from one of the most significant collections of Asian art in the United States. Organized by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the exhibit will be on display at the Frist from October 7 through December 31, 2022.

Crafted from precious materials, innovative techniques and stunning craftsmanship, Asian textiles have been an integral part of global trade for centuries. Whether woven from cotton, linen, silk or wool, each textile in Weaving Splendor tells a complex and fascinating story, taking visitors on a journey along trade routes across continents and through time, from the 15th century to the present day.

“This exhibition provides a rare opportunity for our public, as these extraordinary treasures are not often shown due to their fragile and light-sensitive nature,” says Frist Art Museum Senior Curator Trinita Kennedy. “Our guests will not only gain a deeper understanding of the diverse historical textiles, but also learn how Asian traditions are practiced and kept alive today, including by artists in our own community through gallery demonstrations.”

With more than 65 objects organized thematically in five sections, Weaving Splendor explores the various purposes for which Asian textiles were created, including uses as clothing, furnishings, gifts and commercial goods. Formal court robes made in imperial China and Japan signify rank and status in the government hierarchy, while striking costumes from the traditions of Japanese theater and Chinese operas bring characters from illusory worlds to life on stage. Textured velvets and sophisticated furniture finishes defined and transformed the interior spaces. In a recreation of a royal Persian tent from the 16th century, guests are enveloped in magnificent silk velvet decorated with flowers and scenes of a royal hunt.

A section devoted to the central role that Asian textiles played in diplomatic exchange and world trade includes Indian pashmina and chinchilla shawls and Persian carpets, including one commissioned as a gift from the Shah to the Pope around 1600. “Carpets Woven in the Islamic World , were highly valued in Renaissance Europe. This spectacular specimen remains in excellent condition, suggesting it may have been displayed on a wall or table rather than walked on,” explains Kennedy.

The exhibition ends with modern and contemporary textiles from China, Japan, India, Pakistan and Turkey. In some areas, traditions have been revived by non-governmental agencies and dedicated patrons and artists, while art forms such as carpet weaving continue unabated in other regions. In the twenty-first century, Asia regained its position as the world’s largest producer of textiles.

In addition to experiential learning activities in the Martin ArtQuest Gallery, Weaving Splendor is complemented by an educational gallery with illustrated reference books, a space for guests to reflect and respond, and an area where contemporary fiber artists will speak and demonstrate their processes. A schedule of live demonstrations will be updated at and will also be available on a touch screen in the gallery.


Curators’ Perspectives: Textile Treasures of Asia in a Splendor of Weaving

Thursday, October 6

6:30-7:30 in the evening


Free; first come, first seated

Presented by Ling-en Lu, Curator of Chinese Art; Kimberly Masteller, Jean McCrae Beals, Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art; and Yayoi Shinoda, Assistant Curator of Japanese Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The world has always turned to Asia for luxury textiles. In this special presentation on fine textiles and clothing from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, you’ll have a chance to find out why. Join Nelson-Atkins curators Ling-en Lu, Kimberly Masteller and Yayoi Shinoda for a close look at some of the sumptuous textile treasures from across Asia featured in Weaving Splendor.

You will be introduced to works ranging from intimate objects worn on the body, to objects that define and enliven interior spaces, to dynamic costumes that support narratives in performances, to symbol-laden objects that communicate power and wealth. Each of these works reveals a fascinating story, including a golden robe made for a Chinese prince from the Qing dynasty, a silk carpet created by the ruler of Persia as a gift to the Pope in Rome, and monumental Japanese tapestries produced for Western consumption around the turn of the twentieth century .

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