About Me

My interest in the clothing traditions of other cultures came about in two ways: - at the age of four, I was taken to a performance of the Russian opera, "Prince Igor" by Alexander Borodin, which with its wonderful medieval Russian costumes made a deep impression on me. Amazingly I still have fleeting memories of this event. It appears to have triggered my keen interest in early Russian dress traditions and, by extension those of countries to the east. (I have recently acquired a large collection of dolls in Russian historical and folk costumes.)

Secondly, I watched "The World About Us" television series which aired in the early seventies. This featured, among others, programmes on New Guinea tribes with their wonderful ornaments and featherwork. After this I never really looked back. Having realised that other ways of dress and adornment existed or had existed, I set myself a task to research as much visual material as possible about these traditions, an activity which still occupies much of my leisure time.

In the mid seventies my parents moved to Kenya, and there I had the opportunity to visit tribes such as the Maasai whose traditions were still strong and who still retained their distinctive clothes. I collected a variety of beaded jewellery, fertility dolls and other indigenous items and read "The Peoples of Kenya" by Joy Adamson. After my research (admittedly limited) on the cultures of Kenya I turned my attention to India and set myself a (mad!) project to amass as much pictorial material as possible on its traditions and costumes. In hindsight I feel I didn't do too badly and would have been lost without access to "The Illustrated Weekly of India" magazine. Even so, India's remote northeast remained unknown to me, and only in more recent years did I become aware of this region at all. Indeed my (as yet,"armchair") reseach on Indian culture continues.

I never cease to be amazed by the artistic output of traditional cultures: the smallest detail of a textile, or simply a cascade of mixed bead necklaces against traditional fabric, see "The Seven Sisters of India", or the magnificence of ceremonial costumes among tribal groups in China,Tibet and Mongolia. I feel at times the latter reminds me of those marvellous costumes of the Russian operas. (see "Rainbow of the Kangba")

I gained a post gradute diploma in Anthropology from Durham University in 1991, during the course of which I concentrated on hunter-gatherer studies, together with art, myth and material culture.

I also have a growing interest in myths, legends and folk tales and their remarkable similarities around the world, and also how many such stories have influenced the world of classical music and literature. This has led to an interest in the operas of Richard Wagner and the writings of J R R Tolkien.

Siriol Richards, August 2003.