Tegan and Sara’s new video is a gift to LGBT and genderqueer youth

The video, for the song “Faint of Heart,” features a crop of young trans and queer social media stars including Tyler Ford, Ella Giselle, Dominic Ravina, Olabisi Kovabel, Cooper Treibel, Eli Erlick, and Ni Ching-Marino. The LGBT youth (some of whom are still in their teens) pay homage to musical icons like Prince, David Bowie, Madonna, and Elvis—as well as a couple dressed as the Quinn sisters themselves.

But it’s the circumstances that surrounded the filming that made the video even more emotional for the performers. 


Tegan and Sara // Faint of Heart 

who cares what anyone says? what anyone says about it
don’t let it into your head, into your head

Kashmir to Paisley
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In English, the common droplet-shaped motif found on Kashmir shawls is named after the Scottish town Paisley, which became famous for its imitation shawls in the first half of the 19th century. Locally, it is called boteh (Persian: بوته ; meaning “shrub”) or buta in the Indian subcontinent. Elsewhere on Object of the Day, Deputy Curatorial Director and Head of Textiles Matilda Mcquaid has analyzed the paisley as a metaphor for the tree of life. While boteh/paisley is a timeless design, the legacy of Kashmir’s shawl trade emerges from a historical and political context.

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Countess sits with Kashmir shawl. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780 – 1867), “Portrait of of the Countess of Tournon,” 1812, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986, 1986-26-22

The Kashmir shawl in Cooper Hewitt’s collection features elongated boteh forms and is dated early 19th century.  Its technique is twill tapestry, also known as kani, which is a handwoven technique designed on a draw loom. Kani shawls require masterful skill and often multiple weavers. With three weavers, a simple shawl can take three months while a complicated design can take over a year.

Prior to European consumption of luxury Indian textiles, Kashmir shawls were popular purchases among the nobility of the Safavid, Zand, and Qajar dynasties in Iran, and the Mughal court in northern India. Since the 16th century, emperors gifted shawls to important political leaders as “robes of honor” or khel’atThey also used shawl cloth to pay allowances for their followers and to reward allies.The last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah, in the decline of the empire, was unable to afford artisanal textiles and instead presented British visitors with cheap pieces of fabric.

Indo-Iranian trade routes,  encouraged cross-cultural influence among weavers; for example, Kashmiri products competed with Kerman artisans for Iranian consumption and had to be stylized accordingly. Likewise, Kashmiri products and the Kashmiri shawl trade changed with the advent of British economic influence, industrial machinery, and imperial rule. But influence moved in the opposite direction as well. Kashmir shawls were so commercially successful in Britain that the British textile industry began to copy their designs and technology. The British attempted to import pashm (unwoven goat hair or “shawl wool”) and the animals that produced it, while artisans experimented with fiber blends to reproduce the softness and warmth of the Kashmiri shawl cloth. Within Britain, weavers in Paisley began to dominate the imitation shawl market by the 1820’s. France had its own imitation industry and shawls made in Kashmir still had a market in Asia and Europe. By the 1870’s, however, European production began to replace shawls woven by indigenous Kashmiris. While clothes made through machinery were worn, Kashmir shawls became pieces of interior design, draped over pianos, etc., to show off the masterful weaving.

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Detail, shawl, Kashmir, early 19th century, twill weave on wool tapestry or kani; 1954-24-1


Chandra, Moti. 1989 [1954]. Kashmir Shawls. In Handwoven Fabrics of India, ed. Jasleen Dhamija and Jyotindra Jain. Ahmedabad, India: Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Maskiell, Michelle. “Consuming Kashmir: Shawls and Empires, 1500-2000.” Journal of World History 13, no. 1 (2002): 27-65.

from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum