August Newsletter

Batak Textiles of Sumatra
Reviewing the Repertory

Sandra Niessen, Ph.D

Monday September 14, 2009

Krimsa Gallery
2190 Union Street, San Francisco (Tel. 415-441-7485)

Social Hour begins 6:30 PM;. Lecture starts at 7:15 PM

To launch our 2009-2010 season SFBARS takes a new approach and starts with a lecture on textiles from the Islamic culture of Sumatra. Sandra Niessen’s lecture will present the Batak weavers who make more than 100 design types. Scholars such as Mattiebelle Gittinger and Robyn Maxwell have claimed that traditional Batak textiles exhibit some of the earliest design and technical themes found in the diverse and culturally complex Indonesian archipelago.

In this talk Sandra will explain how the textiles are made up of layers of influences that have reached the Batak during the past two millennia. The tradition is changing rapidly; modern textile developments represent much loss but also some interesting gains.

Sandra will propose ways in which her new publication, Legacy in Cloth, might even influence the future of this once vibrant ancient tradition that is now undeniably in decline.

Sandra Niessen is a Canadian-Dutch scholar who obtained her PhD from Leiden University in 1985 for a thesis entitled "Motifs of life in Toba Batak texts and textiles." The theme of Batak textiles has been a red thread thoughout her career. She carried out field research several times in northern Sumatra. As a student of Rita Balland she has emphasized the importance of understanding weaving techniques in the analysis of Batak textiles.

Sandra was a guest curator and lecturer at the University of British Columbia and then shifted to the Department of Textiles and Clothing at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, on a two year post-doctoral fellowship. In 2004 she returned to the Netherlands to finish her latest book, Legacy in Cloth: Batak Textiles of Indonesia. Sandra is the author of nine books and dozens of articles.

Krimsa Gallery is located on Union street in SF and parking is difficult, but there is a parking garage two blocks before the gallery on Union. We will have a general show and tell for our members to show their pieces as is the SFBARS tradition.

From the SFBARS President

Welcome to the 2009- 2010 season. I want to welcome all new members to our society and hope they can come to as many of our events as possible and will enjoy and learn from our speakers.

We have had some recent changes in the Board. With regret we have accepted the resignation of Pat Leiser, our long-standing Treasurer. Pat has been on the Board for over 19 years and we thank her for all her efforts on behalf of the Society and the Bay Area rug community. She and Gary are moving to Oregon but we hope she will come down and visit us in the future.

In her place I am pleased to announce that Board member Renee Rausin has taken over as Treasurer. I look forward to working with Rene to continue to strengthen the Society's financial position which is fortunately secure.

Looking into the future I will be completing my ninth year as President by the end of this season and I would like to pass on the position at the end of the next year, 2010-2011. I believe regular turnover at the position of President is healthy and a chance for new ideas and talent to lead the Society. I will be looking for a replacement for myself in the coming year and of course would welcome anyone who wishes to step forward and take over my responsibilities.

Pat's departure has opened another position on the Board. Anyone who has an interest in taking a more active role in SFBARS should contact me either in person, by phone 415-602-0709 or by email (at ). If you would like to become more involved, either as a Board member or helping out with programs, membership or the newsletter, you are welcome to attend our next Board meeting which will be held at the Law Offices of our Secretary Jon Eldan in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, September 17th at noon. Please contact me if you want to attend.

Thank you and enjoy the programs!

S. Peter Poullada

SFBARS’ Coming Year --Save the dates !

September 14: Sandra Niessen on Batak textiles, at Krimsa Gallery in San Francisco.

October 13: Jaf and other Kurdsih bags, at Carpets of the Inner Circle in San Francisco.

October 21: SFBARS will be one of the sponsors of a visit to Jim Dixon's house in Occidental (Sonoma County) for attendees of the Textile and Rug Show at the Capri Motel, October 15-26th. More details to follow.

November 11: Introduction and show and tell of the Emmet Eiland Collection, at Emmet Eiland’s in Berkeley.

December: Silent auction and annual party, location and date to be finalized.

January 14: Carol Bier on Shangri-La and the Doris Duke collection of Islamic Art in Honolulu, at Simonian Gallery in San Mateo.

February 9: The Marquand collection of Uzbek weavings, at Krimsa Gallery, in conjunction with the Tribal Arts show at Ft. Mason.

February 13: The Textile Arts Council of the deYoung Museum is presenting Alberto Levi on Primitivism and Abstraction in Persian Tribal Flatweaves, 10 am at the Koret Auditorium.

March: Members’ Show and Tell and Second Annual SFBARS Moth Market at Emmet Eiland’s in Berkeley. Date and time to be finalized.

May: We hope to organize our annual picnic at Jim Dixon's carpet palace in Occidental to close the 2009-2010 season.

ACOR Lives !

The new ACOR Board will be headed by Tom Hubbard. They are currently in preliminary discussions for a 2010 conference venue, but no final decisions have been made.

The ACOR Board has voted once again to offer its member societies the popular overseas travel grant for the upcoming year. Under this arrangement, if three or more member societies coordinate to arrange a speaker from Europe or Asia, ACOR will pay that speaker’s overseas travel expenses up to a maximum of $1000.

The ACOR Speaker Directory continues to be available to our member societies. To access it, go to the ACOR site ( and click on “Resources”. Enter the password “SPEAKER” and you will gain access to detailed information on more than one hundred possible speakers for your future programs.

Publications Available

SFBARS has received word (in June) that old rug publications are being given away. They consist of 41 issues of Rug News Digest and Rug News magazine with dates from 1979 to 1985 (not a complete set); and Oriental Rug Review (tabloid newspaper format), 33 issues with dates from 1981 through 1987 (complete for the years 1984 and 1985). They are all in excellent condition. If you are interested, contact (925) 371-4628 or e-mail

VolkmannTreffen Conference on Suzanis, Berlin, Oct. 23-25

This year’s conference will include presentations from scholars and dealers, including Carol Bier, Michael Franses and Penny Oakley. For the full schedule and registration information, contact or Christian Erber at SFBARS Board Members Peter Poullada President Jon Eldan Secretary Renee Rausin Treasurer Jacqueline Van Lang Membership Elizabeth Shedd Newsletter Jim Dixon Sandra Whitman Murray Eiland Emeritus John Sommer, M.D. Emeritus Members may contact Peter Poullada at The San Francisco Bay Area Rug Society is a nonprofit organization whose publications and events are supported by your subscriptions. Individual subscriptions are $40 annually, $60 for two people at the same address. Please send renewals, address changes, or subscriptions to Jacqueline Van Lang, SFBARS Membership, 6 Muir Ave., Piedmont, CA 94610. For more information about SFBARS, including information about membership, an archive of past Newsletter articles, rug pictures and other features, please explore the SFBARS website at