MELBOURNE, FLA.—Regional conflicts prevent many authentic cultural items from leaving some Central Asian countries to be seen by the rest of the world. However, The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, in its current exhibition, Textiles & Culture, displays some significant pieces from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Demonstrating the intricate weaving traditions of ikat and embroidery, a few of these pieces have never been previously exhibited.
For example, personal favorites of Assistant Director for the Funk Center, Keidra Navaroli, are the towering, coin-studded women’s headdresses from Turkmenistan, which blend stylistic traits of the nomadic Ersari and Tekke tribes. The crowning headpiece and rounded metal jewelry are characteristic of the Tekke; the beaded, flat-plaited jewelry and embroidered fabric indicate Ersari influence. The headdresses, fringed by pendant jewelry, were a gift to the center about a year ago.
As nomads, these people carry most of their wealth on them in the form of elaborate jewelry, clothing and accessories; headdresses are strong indicators of social status. The items are also believed to be talismanic, providing symbolic and magical protection for women and children thought to be especially susceptible to evil forces.
Also on display, highlights of the permanent collection include traditional handmade textiles, embroidery, garments and related accessories from Africa, Japan, India and Central Asia, Europe and North America.
The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts is the only textile center in Florida and one of a handful in the United States. The center, which was created with the support of generous benefactor, Ruth Funk, preserves and displays an international collection of textiles through rotating public exhibitions and educational programs.
Regular hours for the center are Tuesday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m. The center is located on campus in Melbourne at 150 W. University Blvd. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://textiles.fit.edu,or call (321) 674-8313.