Previous dealerKapoor Galleries
Ralph M. Chait Galleries, Inc.Previous dealer

Chinese Art

Chinese Art

Indian, Himalayan &
Southeast Asian Art

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art

Japanese Art

Japanese Art

Thomas Murray

California location
By appointment only

775 E. Blithedale Ave #321
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 378 0716

Asia Week New York September 2022

The Art of Shell Beads

Online exhibition, September 14-23, 2022

In the recent publication, Textiles of Indonesia, Valerie Hector informs us that shells have been used in Southeast Asia as both ornament and currency for millennia. Oliva shell beads were found in an archaeology site of Timor dating to circa 35,000 years ago and Nassarius shell beads were found in the same area dating to 4500 BCE.

Despite the emergence of the glass trade bead industry some two thousand years ago, hand fashioned shell disks continued to serve as a primary way of storing value and signaling prestige up through the 20th century for many ethnic groups of Southeast Asia and Oceania. This was due to the extraordinary labor intensiveness required by shell bead creation, and the principle that the further from the sea, the greater the value for all artifacts made from shell.

Shell Necklace, Angami, Naga People, India, shells, 19th century or earlier30.5 in. (77 cm)

This small exhibition features shell artwork from some of the most legendary headhunting peoples of Asia, including the greatest shell-decorated garment in the world from the Atayal of Taiwan; a blouse decorated with mother of pearl shell beads from the B'laan of Mindanao, Philippines; an early warrior's cape from the Naga with appliqued cowrie shells, making a human figure amid circles; and an extraordinary Naga necklace fashioned from giant clam, both from the northeastern highlands of India.

It is a pleasure to share this deeply meaningful group with you!

To view the online exhibition, click here.

Recent Publication

Textiles of Indonesia: The Thomas Murray Collection

Special Book-Signing
September 7, 5pm

Parcours des Mondes
8 bis rue Jacques
Callot, Paris

Read more, click here.

Drawn from one of the world's leading textile collections, this magnificently presented array of traditional weavings from the Indonesian archipelago provides a unique window into the region's cultures, rites, and history.

Gathered over the course of four decades, the Thomas Murray collection of Indonesian textiles is one of the most important privately owned collections of its type in the world. The objects comprise ritual clothing and ceremonial cloths that tell us much about the traditions of pre-Islamic Indonesian cultures, as well as about the influences of regional trade with China, India, the Arab world, and Europe. As with the earlier volume, Textiles of Japan (Prestel, 2018), the book focuses on some of the finest cloths to come out of the archipelago, presenting each object with impeccable photographs, colors, patterns, and intricate details. Geographically arranged, this volume pays particular attention to textiles from the Batak and the Lampung region of Sumatra, the Dayak of Borneo, and the Toraja of Sulawesi, as well as rare textiles from Sumba, Timor and other islands. Readers will learn about the intricate and highly developed traditions of dyeing, weaving, and beading techniques that have been practiced for centuries, resulting in a breathtaking collection of motifs, patterns, dyes, and adornments. Original texts by leading international experts draw on the latest research to offer historical context, unspool the mysteries behind ancient iconography, and provide new insights into dating and provenance.

Full List of Contributors: Lorraine Aragon, Joanna Barrkman, Chris Buckley, Kristal Hale, Valerie Hector, Janet Alison Hoskins, Itie van Hout, Eric Kjellgren, Fiona Kerlogue, Brigitte Khan Majlis, Robyn Maxwell, Thomas Murray, and Sandra Sardjono.

For more information, click here

Thomas Murray is a California-based independent researcher, collector, lecturer, author and private dealer of Asian, tribal and textile art with an emphasis on antique Indonesian sculpture and textiles and Indian printed trade cloths from the 13th to 18th centuries, as well as animistic art from other varied cultures. A contributing editor to HALI Magazine for more than thirty years, he serves as its in-house consultant on ethnographic textiles and has more than fifty publications to his name, including numerous articles on tribal art and textiles, as well as eight books and catalogues: Indonesian Tribal Art (2001), Animistic Art of Island Asia (2008), Masks of Fabled Lands (2009), Pairs, Couples and Maternity: The Art of Two (2014), C-14 Dating of Dayak Art (2015), Textiles of Japan (2018), and Rarities–From the Himalayas to Hawaii (2019), as well as the new Textiles of Indonesia (2021). He is past president of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association and served a three year term as a member of US President Barack Obama’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee at the Department of State in Washington, DC. Thomas Murray serves currently as the president of SF Tribal, an organization of San Francisco Bay Area art dealers.

Dressed by Nature: Textiles of Japan

Minneapolis Institute of Art, June 25-September 11, 2022
In 2019, MIA acquired Thomas Murray's collection of Japanese textiles and will display them this summer. This exhibition will focus on the resourcefulness of humans to create textiles from local materials like fish skin, paper, elm bark, nettle, banana leaf fiber, hemp, wisteria, deerskin, cotton, silk, and wool. It will showcase rare and exceptional examples of robes, coats, jackets, vests, banners, rugs, and mats, made between around 1750 and 1930, including the royal dress of subtropical Okinawa, ceremonial robes of the Ainu from northern Japan and the Russian Far East, and folk traditions from throughout Japan.

Festival kimono decorated with carp ascending a waterfall made in Akita Prefecture (detail), late 19th-early 20th century, cloth: cotton; shibori (shape resist)

This collection was published by Thomas Murray in Textiles of Japan. As part of the exhibition's opening programs, Murray gave a lecture in which he explained the various influences that went into why and how he formed the collection and developed his sense of "taste..."
Accounting for Taste: On the Collecting of Textiles from Japan
Sunday, June 26, 2pm
To watch a recording of this lecture, click here.

For more information about the exhibition, click here.

For a special Member Monday feature about Thomas Murray's Japanese textiles collection, click here