Posts tagged with textile

How to deal with human DNA contamination of your DNA sequencing: an example from a Malawian dance garment.

Dance garment, c. 1900, Malawi (Chewa culture), Photograph by Kate Whitley. Copyright Te Papa MA_I.374711

You’ve probably seen forensic scientists on TV taking swabs and fingerprints from crime scenes. They aren’t wearing labcoats, hairnets and gloves to look cool but to prevent them contaminating their forensic evidence with their own DNA. But how do scientists deal with items that are already contaminated with unwanted human DNA? I recently encountered this… Read more »

Very rare indeed: a Malawian dance garment

  • Hair fibers from each respective sampled area, GH024606; shown at 200x magnification. Image copyright Te Papa.
  • GH024606, detail of skins used to make the garment. Image copyright Te Papa.
  • Images of hair fibers removed from GH024606 showing exterior scale patterning and the structure of the interior. Images by A. Peranteau, copyright Te Papa.

Witchy tale In 1936, the Dominion Museum was given a gift so rare and strange that it made the news.  Described in the Auckland Star and in museum records as a “witch doctor’s outfit”, the garment was subsequently displayed for many years in the Buckle St building that opened that same year.   During an… Read more »

Conservation of a Micronesian textile

Recently I completed a two year project to conserve a unique Micronesian textile.  It was such a pleasure to get acquainted with this very rare object with distinctive features–I was amazed to see that the colour changes in the patterned end of the cloth had been created by either interlinking or knotting  warps of two colours together (photomicrograph image below), indicating a high level weaving… Read more »

Xray Vision, part I

  • Image of taiaha ME001310 produced by non-invasive Xray scanner. The arrows indicate the wrappings beneath the red wool. Image by Anne Peranteau. Copyright Te Papa.
  • Xray image of taiaha
  • Te Papa's Kaitiaki Taonga Māori Shane James and Objects Conservator Nirmala Balram working with Karyne Rogers and John West at the GNS Isotope Centre. Image by Anne Peranteau, copyright Te Papa.
  • PC001695#1 022

As an art conservation student, I was frequently encouraged by my tutors to think of my profession as a three-legged stool—a platform supported by the three disciplines of connoisseurship, fine arts, and science.   Understanding the science of how materials age is critical for being able to slow down deterioration.  In addition, scientific methods of analysis can… Read more »