THE FINE and sometimes faded carpets and cloth at the Textile Museum have more than one history. In their tightly woven grasp, they hold the secrets of the family or royal court that possessed them. They also explain -- through symbols, intricate weaves and beautiful designs -- the societies that made them, wore them or performed rituals with them.

When carpets, capes, serapes and sarongs become sufficiently old or cherished, they give the history of collectors, too. In the current show, "Collections and Recollections -- The Textile Museum at Sixty," one collector in particular stands out: George Hewitt Myers, the museum's founder.

Myers' fervent fondness for carpets began with one he purchased to decorate the wall of his dormitory room at Yale. After buying several more in 1890, he learned that their stylized flowers and central medallions were copied from something made earlier. So he began to trace the stages of development for the pattern, by buying more rugs.

Eventually, his whims would shape the Textile Museum collections. So, if you don't see any French tapestries here, blame him.

What you will see now, housed in Myers' former home and an adjoining building, is a showcase of the museum's impressive holdings. The show samples a hundred Pre- Columbian, Egyptian and Islamic textiles and Oriental carpets, as well as diverse smatterings from India and Indonesia, the American Southwest and Japan. If you don't know a Navajo rug from a Japanese fireman's coat, or a Mughal court sash from a Hmong skirt, here is your chance to learn.