|Afghani woman doing traditional embroidery.|
I first became aware of Afghan embroidery when I saw the Common Places show of Afghan embroidery at LACMA. The Italian artist Alighiero Boetti employed a similar tactic to the researchers at the Fowler. Although, being a man, he used female intermediaries to meet the needlewomen that collaborated with him on the art work.
UCLA's Fowler museum has one of the world's largest collection of handmade textiles because their anthropological researchers would pose as collectors of textile art (which are usually made by women). Researchers would say that they will buy only if they are sure about the provenance; they must speak personally to the artist.
In many societies, women are not allowed to speak to outsiders. But, with $$$$ riding on it, the researchers were able to purchase access to interview subjects. Along the way, they collected some mighty fine textile art. See it on display on the UCLA campus!
* What? You don't know what a thrum is? Have you been living under a rock?