School of Design

ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles

Staff Research and Publications



Indian block print temple cloth

Symmetry, ratio and proportion in Scottish clan tartans

Hann, M.A. & Wang, C. (2016) Symmetry, ratio and proportion in Scottish clan tartans .

It is common knowledge that a conventionally woven textile consists of two assemblies of parallel yarns (warp and weft), one interlaced with the other at ninety degrees. Where each of the two assemblies is arranged in a particular colour sequence, a check design, known as a ‘tartan’, may be created. Although similar check-type cloths have been produced worldwide, it is the tartans of Scotland which have received most attention and it is here that a complex set of rules evolved and tartans of different types became associated traditionally with different regions, family groups or ‘clans’. This paper explains the nature of tartans, analyses typical surface structures, ratios and proportions, and suggests possible avenues of use for modern designers. The principal sources of data were a collection of tartans held at ULITA and Stewart’s 1974 publication The Setts of Scottish Tartans.


Stripes, Grids and Checks

Hann, M.A. (2015) Stripes, Grids and Checks.  Bloomsbury Publishing.

Stripes, Grids and Checks considers the nature of lines and assemblies of lines, including stripes and grids, as well as related phenomena such as checks, tilings and patterns, regular and irregular, repeating and non-repeating. A wide range of examples are drawn from urban and rural environments, at the macro and micro levels, in land- and cityscapes, buildings, and other designed constructions, compositions and objects.  Considered conventionally, checks, periodic tilings and regular patterns owe their compositional arrangements to an order imposed by an underlying grid structure. The intention in this book is to analyse, explain and illustrate the nature of each design type, to identify the structural (or geometric) similarities between each and to show how the manipulation of various underlying grid structures can provide innovative compositional frameworks for artists and designers.

Origins of Central Asian Silk Ikats

Hann, M.A. (October 2013) Origins of central Asian silk ikats. in ‘The Research Journal of the Costume Culture’ Vol.21 No. 5.  pp780-791.

This paper is concerned with the development of the silk trade and in particular with silk-ikat production.  Early origins are explained and issues relating to the development of long-distance trade are discussed.  The principal trading participants are identified and the focus is turned to silk-ikat production in Central Asia.  It is recognised that the vast bulk of trade, along what became known as the ‘Silk Route’ (or ‘Silk Road’), did not involve straight-forward or direct exchange between powers to the far east of the route and powers to the far west, but rather was done in stages between adjacent or not too distant locations.  Diffusion of ideas was not therefore immediate and operational at one eastern or western extreme of a trading network but, rather, was a gradual process influencing adjacent participants, at stages between the geographic extremes over a long period of time.

Symbol, Pattern and Symmetry: The Cultural Significance of Structure


Hann, M.A. (2013) Symbol, Pattern and Symmetry: The Cultural Significance of Structure.  Bloomsbury Publishing.

This book investigates how pattern and symbol has functioned in visual arts, exploring how connections and comparisons in geometrical pattern can be made across different cultures and how the significance of these designs has influenced craft throughout history.

The book features illustrative examples of symbol and pattern from a wide range of historical and cultural contexts, from Byzantine, Persian and Assyrian design, to case studies of Japanese and Chinese patterns. Looking at each culture’s specific craft style, Hann shows how the visual arts are underpinned with a strict geometric structure, and argues that understanding these underlying structures enables us to classify and compare data from across cultures and historical periods. Richly illustrated with both colour and black and white images, and with clear, original commentary, the book enables students, practitioners, teachers and researchers to explore the historical and cultural significance of symbol and pattern in craft and design, ultimately displaying how a geometrical dialogue in design can be established through history and culture.

Textile Society Conservation Award

Winder, J. (2013) Textile Society Conservation Award 2012: ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles in Text. 41 The Textile Society. pp77-78, 2013-14.

Detailing the work carried out on the Louisa Pesel manuscript collection following a generous award to ULITA from the Textile Society in 2012.  Article available to view with permission from the editors.

Structure and Form in Design, Critical Ideas For Creative Practice


Hann, M.A. (2012) Structure and Form in Design, Critical Ideas For Creative Practice. Bloomsbury Publishing

This book provides a critical examination of structure and form in design, covering a range of topics of great value to students and practitioners engaged in any of the specialist decorative arts and design disciplines.

The Clothworkers’ Documentation and Conservation Project

Hann, M.A. Humphrey, A. Hyman, J. and Winder, J. (2010) The Clothworkers’ Documentation and Conservation Project.

The Clothworkers’ Foundation thirty-month project involved the cataloguing, documentation and conservation of the key constituent collections of the University of Leeds International Textiles Archive (now ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles).  The principal outputs of the project are comprehensive catalogue entries and associated images for the major collections, making them available on ULITA’s publicly-accessible website by late 2010.  Associated with extensive documentation, has been comprehensive conservation work and repacking of the collections in order to remedy, or at least halt, past damage caused to some items due to inappropriate storage previous to the 2003-04 re-housing of the collection.

Tibor Reich: A Textile Designer Working in Stratford

Denby by Tibor

Powers, K. and Hann, M.A. (2009) Tibor Reich: A Textile Designer Working in Stratford. Textile History 40 (2) pp212-228, November 2009

Tibor Reich began his career as a textile designer and manufacturer in 1940s Britain.
Operating from Clifford Mill, close to Stratford-upon-Avon, his company, Tibor Ltd,
became one of the most innovative textile companies of the post-war period.  Clients
included Concorde, Ercol, QE2, Lotus Cars, Coventry Cathedral and the Shakespeare
Centre in Stratford- upon-Avon. The particular focus of this article is
on identifying those factors of importance in Reich’s rise to prominence worldwide.

Full article: Tibor Reich: A Textile Designer Working in Stratford

The Pazyryk Carpet

 Hann, M.A. (2007) The Pazyryk Carpet.

The written history of pile-carpet manufacture was challenged dramatically, following the discovery of the so-called ‘Pazyryk carpet’ in the late-1940s, during an archaeological dig led by Sergei Ivanovich Rudenko, in the Pazyryk Valley, amid the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia. The carpet (which measures 1.83 metres by 1.98 metres) was found in a kurgan (or tomb) and is currently held in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The kurgans in the Altai region have interested archaeologists since the nineteenth century, with expeditions led by Radloff in 1865, Griaznov (with Rudenko) from 1925 to 1929, Shibe in 1927 and again by Rudenko from 1947 to 1949. This latter series of digs was found to be the most fruitful archaeologically, and lead to the discovery of the carpet and a range of other interesting artefacts. The circumstances of the carpet’s survival were fortuitous. Shortly after the kurgan’s construction, water seeped into the tomb and, on freezing, held the contents in a deep frozen state for around two-and-a-half-thousand years. Other, much smaller, pile-carpet fragments as well as appliquéd felted fabrics were also found during the Rudenko series of digs. This research is concerned with establishing the circumstances of the Pazyryk carpet’s survival and discovery. Attention is being focused on the technical aspects of its manufacture, and the structural and thematic characteristics of its design. The intention is to develop the debate relating to the carpet’s provenance and usage prior to its entombment in the kurgan. Professor Hann, Director of ULITA, travelled to St Petersburg on a short-term research visit to the Hermitage Museum, where he was permitted to examine the renowned Pazyryk carpet and other Scytho-Siberian textiles. The outcome of his study was presented at the International Conference on Oriental Carpets at Istanbul in April 2007.

The Dyers’ Craft: Resist Patterned Textiles

Hann, M.A. , Wells, K. (2000)

The Dyers’ Craft: Resist patterned textiles, an explanatory booklet. Published by The University Gallery, Leeds.

‘Resist dyeing’ or ‘resist patterning’ are terms used to encompass a wide spectrum of techniques by which a yarn or fabric may be decorated through allowing dyestuff to come into contact with selected areas on the yarn or fabric’s surface.  Techniques rely on folding, knotting or plaiting, the use of stencils or shields, wrapping thread, string, or similar material round folded fabric or hanks of yarn, stitching thread into fabric and drawing it tight, or the application of resist materials such as wax or paste to the fabric’s surface.  Variants of such techniques are found universally and have been used to decorate fabrics throughout much of recorded textile history.  The objective of this booklet are to identify the principal resist-dyeing techniques and their variations, to comment on their geographical distribution, and to identify the characteristics of the resultant products.

Available to purchase from ULITA or via the Online Store.

Unity in Diversity: the Textiles of Indonesia

Hann, M.A. , Thomson, G.M, (1993)

Unity in Diversity: the textiles of Indonesia.  Published by the University Gallery, Leeds.

A catalogue created to accompany an exhibition of Indonesian textiles from the Clothworkers’ Collection (now ULITA) and other institutes held at the University Gallery, University of Leeds 1993.

Available to purchase from ULITA or via the Online Store.

Qing Dynasty Embroideries

Hann, M.A. , Thomson, G.M, Zhong, H. (1990)

Qing Dynasty Embroideries: Techniques and Motifs, selections from the Clothworkers’ Collection.  Published by the University Gallery, Leeds.

A catalogue created to accompany an exhibition of embroidered textiles from the Qing Dynasty Collection held at the University Gallery, University of Leeds 1990.

Please also see ULITA Publications.

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