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Intertwined textiles – Influence of Asian fabrics in the European cloth industry (ca. 1200-1900)
Date: June 20th to 21st, 2024 | Place: Museu do Oriente, Lisbon (Portugal)


The European textile industry was influenced by Asian fabrics, techniques and dyes since the Classical period. It is well-known the Roman fascination for Chinese silk and Indian cottons, which continued in later times with the influence Sasanian Iran had in the production of Byzantine fabrics consumed in Europe, as well as the subsequent importance Islamic textiles had in inspiring the design of the cloth woven in Italy, along with the use of Asian dyes (such as indigo and madder) by Europe’s textile industry. If this Asian influence seems to be indisputable in Mediterranean Europe from an early age, it is useful to have a comparative perspective with the rest of the continent since the commercial revolution of the 13th century, in order to assess its true impact before the great transformation fueled by the European imperial expansion of the Early Modern Age (ca. 1500) and, later, with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (ca. 1750).

Hence, we propose a quadripartite approach to study this theme on a multi and interdisciplinary perspective:

1) The importance of trade in the construction of a European taste and consumption of Asian textiles, and how these influenced the creation of a hybrid visual culture and the design and manufacture of mixed and complex pieces in Europe;

2) How the Asian textile techniques and dyeing plants influenced European production, in order to know where, how, in what way (whether it was a simple copy or a recreation) and when these influxes took place;
3) How the importation of Asian dyeing plants (like indigo and madder) had an impact on European production, replacing older dyes, and also on knowledge production to cultivate such plants (or try to find substitutes) in Europe’s colonies;
4) How the creation of substitute commodities in Europe since the Industrial Revolution, along with the revolution in chemistry in the 19th century to replace the natural dyes, allowed European cloths to compete successfully with Asian originals all over the world.


Organizing Institutions:

EuroWeb. Europe through textiles (COST Action CA 19131)

Fundação Oriente – Museu do Oriente

CHAM – Centre for the Humanities, NOVA FCSH


Send us your proposal until 17 March 2024 by filling the online form at: https://forms.gle/FVxc6UXybzaErius9, with a title, abstract (less than 300 words), a small bio and mentioning if you are a member of EuroWeb*. If you have any doubts do not hesitate to contact us through our e-mail: intertwinedtextiles@gmail.com.

* Members of EuroWeb. Europe through Textiles: Network for an integrated and interdisciplinary Humanities (COST Action CA 19131), can apply for funds to participate in this conference.

More information on the conference will be made available soon at Euroweb website https://euroweb.uw.edu.pl/