The Roger Hollander Collection of Chinese & Central Asian Silk Textiles

Silk is the stuff dreams are made of. Ever since the first cultivation of the silkworm more than five thousand years ago in China, the deep colors, complex weaves and sensuous feel of this rarified cloth bespoke luxury everywhere in the world. 

The technique of spinning silk into thread, the mastery of dyestuffs and advances in loom technology took place over the millennia, even as dynasties ebbed and flowed. The Silk Road blossomed and silk became an international currency suitable for trade and tribute all the way to Rome and beyond.

And yet, as much as we associate silk production with the Han, some of the finest and most celebrated silks arose from Chinese Turkestan, created by the Uighurs who used slit weave tapestry technique, kesi, to very great effect during the 12th -14th Centuries (see RH3567, RH3569).

The Mongols toppled the old order of the Song and established the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Kublai Khan, with great insight, preserved and enhanced court support for Chinese silks with golden roundels that recall the brocades of the great Tang Dynasty centuries before (RH3565). 

Of Han ethnicity, the Ming emperors (1368-1644) developed even more complex ways to create beauty in textiles, as in the "needle loop" embroidery, which encased strips of gold (RH3568, RH3566) while preserving auspicious Yuan themes, like a Boy in Mongol Costume Riding a Goat (RH3564). Ming brocades were sought after the world over, their eye-pleasing patterns making their way to the Viceroyalties of Mexico and Peru, India, Turkey, Western Europe and Japan where they impacted local weaving motifs and techniques (RH3571, RH3570). 

The Qing dynasty rulers (1644-1912) were Manchus who, like the Mongols before them, were considered "barbarians" by the Han Chinese whom they ruled. And yet they went on to "out-Chinese-the-Chinese" in the arts, most especially during the peaceful and prosperous reign of the Emperor Qianlong in the 18th Century. During this time weavers fabricated luxury velvets (RH3368) festooned with flowers or embroidered panels with propitious motifs of birds, butterflies, blossoms and fans (RH3370, RH3203).  

It is with pleasure we present this select grouping of textiles, from the famed Roger Hollander Collection, most of which carry the prestigious provenance of Spink of London. 

For more information about Roger Hollander the collector, please scroll down to the bottom of this presentation.

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Reference: When Silk was Gold: Central Asian and Chinese Textiles, James C. Y. Watt, Anne E. Wardwell, Cleveland Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997.

Roger Hollander collected textiles with a passion seldom matched. After a successful career in IT, he left the business world in the late 1990s to devote himself to his many interests,  but most especially to building what would soon become the greatest collection of Indian Trade Cloth (ITC) in the world. That collection now has pride of place in the Asian Civilization Museum in Singapore.

Roger's vision was to track back to the source patterns that inspired the craftsmen of India who created these multi-varied cloths. He not only collected the ITC, he surveyed court and tribal textiles of the Indian sub-continent proper, oriental carpets and Islamic textiles, all of which contributed to the “big picture” of where ITC designs come from. These predominantly early Chinese and Central Asian textiles were part of that documentation effort.

At the same time, he also collected textiles from Indonesia that displayed motifs inspired by Indian Trade Cloth, including batiks of Java and Sumatra and ikats of the outer islands.

Believing that Chinese Minority textiles and their patterns represent a window on the ancient past, even when the costumes were made in the 20thCentury, Roger assembled what is no doubt the largest privately held collection in the USA.

Inquiries about the above collections are invited.