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Brocaded Lamba Textile

Madagascar, 2009
344 x 126 cm

Warp: 96 threads
Weft: 148 threads & 960 for the brocade
Weight: 1,280 grams


September 2009 – October 2010: The American Museum of Natural History, New York ‘Spider Silk’  (where it broke all records for visitor numbers to a single exhibit)

April 2011 – September 2011: The Art Institute, Chicago ‘Spinning Gossamer: Golden Spider Silk Textile’

January 2012 – June 2012: The Victoria & Albert Museum, London ‘Golden Spider Silk’

This was the first major weave and was completed in 2009, it took four years to make and used the thread of 1,063,000 spiders.

Lamba is the generic term in Madagascar for a woven fabric of rectangular shape, its design is based on the precious royal silks of the nineteenth-century from the highlands of Madagascar. This seemed suitable because the silk used is from the native Nephila madagascariensis, and because the last attempts at using this silk took place in Madagascar over a century ago.  Simon Peers, who created this textile, is a reputed textile designer who lives and works in Madagascar.  He is also therefore very familiar with these textiles and the techniques involved which he has perfected over a period of almost thirty years.  For other examples of his work using these traditional designs and techniques with Bombyx silk (traditional silk), please click here and here.

Known as a ‘lamba akotifahana’ in Malagasy, this large rectangular textile is made up of seven panels and two end bands that are all woven using a traditional method of weft brocading with some added warp brocade. This patterned brocading consists of a great wealth of traditional idiosyncratic geometric motifs, resembling arcane hieroglyphs, which lend themselves to a monochromatic golden textile in which all the subtlety and beauty of the textures and patterns are revealed by the play of light on the surface.