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Textile, Chan Chan, 1964

This is a Textile. It was designed by Eliza Wilcox and produced by Jack Lenor Larsen Incorporated. It is dated 1964 and we acquired it in 2016. Its medium is cotton and its technique is tie-dyed warp-faced plain weave (folded, bound with raffia, and dyed). It is a part of the Textiles department.

The diversity of styles that characterizes Larsen’s range is the result of his insatiable intellectual curiosity about the world’s textile traditions. He wrote extensively about resist-dye techniques in The Dyer’s Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi, including fold-dying, in which pleating or folding are combined with resists like clamping or binding to create complex geometric patterns with the soft, blurred effect typical of tie-dye.
Chan Chan’s foundation cloths were firmly-woven high-quality cottons from Switzerland, which were then dyed in Kenya. Fifty-yard lengths of fabric were hand-pleated by fifty Kenyan women standing in a row, then spiral-bound by wrapping it with raffia to a pattern designated on measuring sticks, all while working to a drum beat to maintain consistency across the entire length. While the tied pattern is, of necessity, simpler than the smaller cloths made by West African masters, Larsen added multiple colors in the tradition of West African plangi to lend depth and dimension to the design. Chan Chan was the first fold-dyed upholstery and drapery fabric introduced to the contract market.
The design had to be discontinued just a few years after it was introduced, when Eliza Wilcox, who developed and supervised the complex design process, was killed in an automobile accident.

This object was donated by Longhouse Reserve. It is credited Cowtan and Tout Larsen Archive Collection, Gift of Longhouse Reserve.

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Its dimensions are

H x W: 158.8 × 134.6 cm (5 ft. 2 1/2 in. × 53 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Chan Chan, 1964; Designed by Eliza Wilcox; Produced by Jack Lenor Larsen Incorporated (United States); cotton; H x W: 158.8 × 134.6 cm (5 ft. 2 1/2 in. × 53 in.); Cowtan and Tout Larsen Archive Collection, Gift of Longhouse Reserve; 2016-32-5

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Esperanza Spalding Selects.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Textile, Chan Chan, 1964 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=28 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>