Rare collection of Chinese art on display

CARLSBAD — The city of Carlsbad’s William D. Cannon Art Gallery will present “Vanishing Traditions: Textiles and Treasures from Southwest China” from April 2 through June 2 at the William D. Cannon Art Gallery in the Carlsbad City Library complex, 1775 Dove Lane.Showcasing textiles, costumes and silver ornaments, this exhibition features the life and culture of the minority peoples of Southwest China. The exhibition is selected from the collection of local resident Bea Roberts, acquired during her visits to the Guizhou Province, when the cultural identity of its villages were primarily intact and before their traditions began to vanish in today’s globalization.

The gallery is open to the public from Tuesdays through Sundays. For information on all gallery programs, call (760) 602-2021, or visit carlsbadca.gov/arts.

The Bea Roberts Collection is considered one of the best private collections of Chinese “minority wear” in the United States. The collection features beautifully crafted textiles and adornments – festival wear, elaborately embroidered baby carriers, hand-loomed cloth, dyed batik, indigo-dyed jackets, embellished skirts and pants, and exquisitely fabricated silver bracelets, neck rings, hairpieces and combs.

The population of China is 92 percent Han, the world’s largest ethnic group. The remaining 8 percent includes 120 million people in 55 different minority groups; many have always been segregated regionally and culturally from the main Chinese populace. The Bea Roberts Collection is the accumulation of more than a decade of collecting in the Guizhou Province, home of 18 different minority groups.

Roberts’ fascination with Chinese minority wear began on her first trip into the Guizhou Province in 1997. At that time the province was little known outside the region; roads were few and poor, villages were often accessible only by foot paths, and the rich cultural identity of each group was almost unknown to the outside Western world. Today, few textiles and adornments are being produced in the villages, and many of these traditions are vanishing or gone.

 

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