Mary Hunt Kahlenberg is a women with a passion for textiles. She formerly served as Curator of Textiles and Costumes at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. and is one of the top authorities on the subject. her latest book, Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles, introduces readers to the intoxicating and complex beauty of Indonesian cloth. The book looks at five centuries of ceremonial garments and sacred textiles from throughout Indonesia's chain of tropical islands. The book is a compilation of the work of a select group of experts sharing their cumulative knowledge and scholarship. The book also represents a visual tour de force of a very personal collection of over 350 Indonesian ceremonial garments and sacred textiles assembled over a thirty year period by Mary Hunt Kahlenberg.
It was much more than a "labor of love" for her when it came time to writing about and editing a book on her own collection of Indonesian Textiles. These textiles have consistently fascinated her before her first visit to Indonesia and grew as she traveled and studied more about Indonesian culture. The book and essays reveal the experts' extensive knowledge of Indonesia's history, culture, geography and religious evolution. DelMonico Books – Prestel has published the book with 300 color illustrations in 408 pages in a hard cover slip case that creates a beautiful showcase for the wide range of textile innovations in Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Maluku.
"We are very fortunate to have received a generous grant that allowed us to create the kind of book that few art historians ever have the opportunity to offer for under $100. The book delves into the aesthetic experience, both tactile and visual, as well as its historic, anthropological and spiritual qualities. "For me, the pleasure of the information between the fingers is one of my great joys in studying textiles," Kahlenberg says. "The other connection I feel is very important is knowing that this textile was made by someone and used by someone.....it communicates the sense of the individual and their life." The book sells for $95.