Haden Brown, Director of Marketing and Public Relations;, 205.254.2076

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                                  The Birmingham Museum of Art


Amongst the Clouds: Textiles of the Miao People from Southwest China

From the collection of Susan Weitzman Conway


On view June 4 ­­through August 27, 2006

 The Miao people, the largest of China’s ethnic minorities, trace their history back 5,000 years to China’s Yellow River Valley. Their early history tells of famine, wars, separations and migrations. Finally, they settled in seven mountainous provinces where they lived, until recently, in relative isolation. Spread among the mist shrouded mountains, the Miao developed a unique and lively culture over the past two thousand years.

 The Miao traditions include a distinct and an exceptional love of embroidered textiles. Their minute stitching in brightly colored threads and braids are sometimes highlighted with tassels and silver. The embroidery of each piece tells a story that can be read by those who know how to interpret them. For example, the Miao believe they are the descendants of birds and butterflies, so these frequently appear in their embroideries.

Curated by Donald Wood, Ph.D., Chief Curator and Virginia & William M. Spencer III Curator of Asian Art of the Birmingham Museum of Art, the pieces in the exhibition are drawn from the collection of Susan Weitzman Conway, a long-time collector of textiles from the Miao. Her extensive collection contains not only everyday men’s and women’s wear, but also superb festival and ceremonial costumes. The collection also includes delicately embroidered baby carriers and blankets, festival banners, hats, shoes, and a variety of exquisitely worked silver jewelry. One of the most significant holdings of such material in the United States, this is the first exhibition of Ms. Conway’s collection.


The Birmingham Museum of Art

Experience the world. Discover yourself.

The Birmingham Museum of Art, one of the finest regional museums in the United States, houses a diverse collection of more than 25,000 paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings and decorative arts dating from ancient to modern times. The collection, based on the exceptional quality of each work, presents a rich panorama of cultures featuring the museum’s extensive holdings of Asian, European, American, African, Precolumbian and Native American art. Surrounded by breath-taking works created by the masters of antiquity and icons of the art world---Monet, Sargent, Corot, Cassatt, Bierstadt, Wedgwood, Motherwell, Stella, Chihuly---museum visitors take part in a meaningful global discovery.


Museum Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am- 5pm; Sunday 12 – 5pm   

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