Fabrics of Devotion: Religious Textiles in the Eastern Mediterranean

Lecture Series at Orient-Institut Istanbul (September/October 2021)

 

Oh you who covers himself [with a cloak]”:

This first verse of the 74th chapter of the Quran refers to the Prophet Muhammad who, after receiving the first words of revelation from the Angel Gabriel, is remembered as wrapping himself up with a cloak.

Religions are more than written texts. They are also fabrics that veil or reveal; they wrap up and provide for shelter, forming permeable media between inside and outside, between the body and the world, between the hidden and the visible. While scholars of religion have for a long time privileged the study of texts, the closeness between the words text and textile (both are derived from Latin texere, to weave, to fit together, braid, interweave, fabricate, build) may invite us to conceive of religious traditions as practices of artfully interweaving words with the material world – in countless techniques.

Cult vestments or fabrics used in religious settings, their designs and their stories reveal moments of exchange between the neighboring religious communities in the Eastern Mediterranean that challenge established divisions between scholarly fields of enquiry. The study of textile paraphernalia also points to everyday religious practices that have only partially found their way into the realm of theological doctrines.

The aim of this lecture series is to enquire into the intricacies of religious history and local forms of devotion in the Eastern Mediterranean through the medium of textiles. What insights can be gained by exploring textiles – their making, their use and ritual, and their multi-layered meanings – as a source for the study of religion? By bringing together approaches from anthropology of religion, textile studies, and art history, the lecture series will open up a forum for discussing the significance of textiles in the realm of lived religion in the Eastern Mediterranean, historical and contemporary, from three different perspectives.

                                                                                         Esther Voswinckel Filiz

Program

Wednesday, 29 September, 18:00 (Turkish time, GMT+3):

Topkapı Sarayı‘ndaki Din Konulu Tekstillere Genel Bir Bakış /Textile Religious Paraphernalia at the Topkapı Palace an Introduction

Prof. Dr. Hülya Tezcan (Nişantaşı University, Istanbul)

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Wednesday, 13 October 2021, 19:00 (Turkish time, GMT+3):

Reflections of Identity on Silk: Towards a Re-Reading of the Islamic and the Secular in Greek Orthodox Church Fabrics

Dr. Nikolaos Vryzidis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)

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Wednesday, 20 October 2021, 19:00 (Turkish time, GMT+3):

The Jewish Prayer Shawl Tallit

Dr. Esther Juhasz (Shenkar College /The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

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Please click here for the program booklet


Registration Information

The lectures will be held online via Zoom. To attend this virtual lecture series, prior registration is necessary. Please send an email specifying your name and academic affiliation to events@oiist.net two days before each lecture, i.e. by Monday (27 September/11 October/18 October 2021). For technical reasons, the number of participants is limited. You will be informed about the organizational and technical procedure a day before the lecture starts.