Ruth Barnes


Textile Curator, Department of Eastern Art, Ashmolean Museum 

Faculty / College Address:

Ashmolean Museum


Research Interests:

  • My current research interest is in Indian Ocean trade, especially for the pre-European and early European period. This interest developed from my initial research of Indonesian textiles and their designs, and the realisation of the importance of Indian textiles in cross-cultural links between South- and South-east Asia.
  • I am interested in the social history of material culture and in its anthropological interpretation. From this perspective I have studied textiles from South- and South-east Asia and, more recently, from the Islamic world. I also retain a special interest in Indonesia and continue to undertake field research in the region.

Current Projects:

I am lead curator for three new galleries in the Ashmolean Museum Project (to be completed by late 2009), and this takes up most of my time. The galleries I am responsible for are:

  • Asian Crossroads (400 AD to 1500 AD)
  • West Meets East (1500 AD onwards)
  • Textiles

Additional projects are:

  • Indian textiles in Indian Ocean societies: a reassessment of dates
  • The Newberry Collection of Islamic embroideries in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford: a study of 11th to 15th century textiles in Egypt
  • Early 19th century textiles from Eastern Indonesia in the Ethnographic Museum, Leiden

Recent Publications:

  • Ships and the Development of Maritime Technology in the Indian Ocean(ed. with David Parkin). London: RoutledgeCurzon (2002)
  • Trade, Temple and Court. Indian Textiles from the Tapi Collection (with Steven Cohen and Rosemary Crill). Mumbai: India Book House (2002)
  • Ostindonesien im 20. Jahrhundert: Auf den Spuren der Sammlung Ernst Vatter. Frankfurt am Main: Museum der Weltkulturen (2004)
  • Textiles in Indian Ocean Societies (ed.). London: RoutledgeCurzon (2005)
  • Pilgrimage. The Sacred Journey (with Crispin Branfoot). Oxford: Ashmolean Museum (2006)

Further Info:

Recent Exhibitions:

  • A Stitch in Time. Medieval Islamic Embroideries from Egypt. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2001)
  • An Englishman in Egypt. Edward Lane in Cairo (1825-35). Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2003)
  • Textiles from the Islamic World: The Lloyd Cotsen Textile Traces Collection. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2004)
  • Pilgrimage - The Sacred Journey. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2006)
Photograph of Ruth Barnes
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