Annotated list of selected new acquisitions for the TRC Library, June 2016
The June 2016 Books Showcased webpage reflects various developments at the TRC, namely the donation of a large collection of European regional dress, especially German items and a collection of Hungarian embroideries, and the start of a new project, namely an encyclopedia of embroidery from Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau and the Indian subcontinent. Due to these and other projects the TRC library is growing rapidly in range and depth thanks to the hard work of Marieke Roozeboom. There are now over 2500 book titles in the database and bookshelves (all of which are noted online) and there are many titles to come, which will help to make the TRC library an even more important textile resource. For previous lists, starting in 2013, please click here.
APPL, Tobias and Johann WAX (2016). Tracht im Blick: Die Oberpfalz Packt Aus, Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet. ISBN 978-3-7917-2794-3, hardback, 288 pp., full colour, many b/w and colour illustrations, bibliography and index. Price €25.
A book that accompanies a series of exhibitions held in various museums in 2016 in southern Germany and northern Austria. Each exhibition focuses on a particular aspect of regional dress. The display at the Historisches Museum, Regensburg, for example, called Heimat auf der Haut. Tracht in der Oberpfalz, looked at regional dress in the area around Regensburg in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book goes much deeper than the individual exhibition, as there are a series of articles about different aspects of regional dress for men, women and children in southern Germany. There are articles, for example, on the history of Oberpfalz costumes in general, dress and identity in the Oberpfalz region, the concept of National Dress, the role of reality and romanticism in creating and looking at regional dress, urban and village garments, as well as paintings and books concerning this theme. There are also a series of articles about specific items of Oberpalz dress, notably the range of headgear worn by women in the region, and the role of the dirndl, which is still worn by many women and girls in southern Germany and Austria on both daily and festive occasions. The dirndl form can be traced back to the early 19th century and the fashionable Empire style of garments worn by urban women (and made familiar in film adaptations of works by the English author, Jane Austen), notably the short jackets that developed into the short, low cut waistcoats that are such a feature of the dirndl style.
Recommendation: this is a specialist book that will appeal to those working on European regional dress, especially that from Germany and Austria.
DUFTER, Otto (ed., 2011). Trachtenlandschaft Bayern, Sitz Traunstein: Bayerischer Trachtenverband e.V., Chiemgau Druck, ISBN 978-3000355035, hardback, 320 pp. Price €43,99 (also seen for sale new at €25).
An account of traditional dress from Bayern that is currently being worn by various groups on daily, festive and folklorist occasions. There are considerably more, full colour illustrations than text. The book has a myriad of photographic details including bags, the embroidery on women’s caps, men’s hats, belt buckles, shawls, waistcoats, braces, calf warmers, socks and so forth. There are front, side and back images of women and line ups of men, women, girls and boys in the various forms of regional dress.
Recommendation: this book is really useful for identifying various elements of Bavarian regional dress and the hundreds of regional variations, but do not expect much regarding historical information. The fact that there is no bibliography or index makes it difficult to check particular details or go deeper into one area. Good starting point, but at the same time a little frustrating.
EDWARDS, Eilund (2011). Textiles and Dress of Gujarat, London: V&A Publishing in association with Mapin Publishing, ISBN 978-1-851776-45-0. Hardback, 248 pp, fully illustrated, glossary, bibliography, no index. Price: £35.
A beautiful book with many colour and black/white illustrations. The author has spent many years in Gujarat and has studied the range of traditional textiles from this western province of India. The chapters include an historical introduction to the region, details about contemporary dress (with useful illustrations in the back of the book concerning the construction of the various garments), constructed (a wide range of woven forms), dyes and printed textiles (ikats to block printed textiles), embroidery (from court to low caste forms), as well as craft development and entrepreneurship. The book looks at the range of Gujarati textiles from the last two hundred years or so and uses many examples from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s extensive collection of Indian textiles, as well as items from the author’s own collection of images and objects.
Recommendation: A detailed and interesting book written by someone with a detailed knowledge of a wide range of textiles. The range of information provided makes it a book to have in any serious textile library, as well as a welcome addition to the library of those people interested in Indian handicrafts and culture.
FAHMY, AZZA (2015), The Traditional Jewelry of Egypt, Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. ISBN: 978-977-416-720-1. Hardback, 222 pp., fully illustrated in colour, short bibliography, index. Price: US$ 49.50.
The second in a series of books about traditional jewellery from the Middle East (the first book was about silver jewellery from Yemen, written by Marjorie Ransom, see here for the review, published in October 2015). The present book is divided into five main sections. The first is about peasant and sha`bi jewellery, followed by desert jewellery, Nubian jewellery, jewellery for special purposes and finally a section on Egyptian hallmarks. There are many details concerning how the various items of jewellery are made, but the main emphasis is on the final appearance, how they are used and with what. The written details are complemented with many black and white, as well as colour photographs. Some of the illustrations are a little posed, but that does not deteriorate from the overall appearance and usefulness of the book. The photographs of the jewellery depict the items clearly with front and back of the items (especially items such as earrings). There are numerous photographs of (mainly) women wearing the various items of jewellery with the traditional form of clothing.
Recommendation: This is one of the first serious books on the subject of Egyptian jewellery (rather than Bedouin or silver jewellery from the Middle East in general). The format of the book, page and design layout make it an attractive book to read. This book should be in the library of anyone interested in jewellery and Middle Eastern jewellery in particular, as well as anyone who is working in the field of Egyptian traditional dress and accessories. Indeed, it will be of interest to anyone with a passion for Egyptian traditions and culture from the last two hundred years.
KWON, Charllotte and Tim MCLAUGHLIN (2016), Textiles of the Banjara: Cloth and Culture of a Wandering Tribe, London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN: 978-0-500-51837-3. Hardback, 191 pp., over 300 b/w and colour illustrations, end notes, bibliography, index. Price: £29.95.
The Banjara are a nomadic group living in almost every Indian state thanks to their role of transporters of goods, especially agricultural products.. For centuries they have worn brightly coloured garments and many of these, especially the items worn by women, are embroidered and further decorated with small pieces of mirrors (shisha worksh). The book is based on fieldwork carried out with the Banjara by the authors in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It includes a wealth of information about how textiles were used by the various Banjara groups, and in particular it focuses on the role of embroidery in their lives. The book looks at the history of the Banjara, the role of embroidery, the various styles of Banjara embroidery, as well as its future and the various groups involved in reviving Banjara embroidery, so that it will survive well into the present era.
Recommendation: This book is fully illustrated with many details about the techniques and forms of Banjara embroidery, clothing and accessories. It will be of great help to those who are involved in the identification and cataloguing of relevant collections. A fascinating study of a living tradition.
MELLER, Susan (2013). Silk and Cotton: Textiles from the Central Asia that was, New York: Abrams. ISBN 978-1-4197-0674-5. Hardback, 336 pp., fully illustrated with b/w and colour photographs and line drawings, bibliography, index. Price: £40.
The author, Susan Meller, is a well-known textile historian who has written various books on the subject of American, European and Russian textiles. The title of her present book suggests that she has taken a somewhat romantic stand, especially as the book is dedicated “To the intrepid travelers who braved the khans and the Bolsheviks, trekked across frozen steppes…..” etc. It is in fact an invaluable book for anyone, collector, museum curator, artist, embroiderer, who is looking for details and information about traditional crafts from Central Asia (with a strong emphasis on Uzbek forms). The book is divided into adult clothing, children’s clothing, headgear, suzani, household items, animal trappings, cloth in general, and then several chapters on the more recent history of these forms, including the role of the bazaar and the Soviet influence. The final chapter is called Album and is a series of nineteenth to mid-twentieth century images of men, women and children with a detailed explanation of what is depicted, range of clothes, textiles and context. The chapter on suzani, for example, is very clear and detailed and is a joy to read. The chapters on adult clothing explain the various forms of coats, where they come from and in some cases, how they are worn.
Recommendation: this book is a must for anyone or any library that is seriously interested in Central Asian textiles and clothing, especially the woven and embroidered forms. It can be used as a dipping-in book (the photographs by Don Tuttle are very good), or to find out more about specific forms. The range and breadth of the subjects discussed is impressive.
NAIK, Shailaja D. (2014), Traditional Embroideries of India, New Delhi: A.P.H. Publishing Corporation, no ISBN, hardback, 157 pp., line drawings only, short bibliography, index.
A general introduction to the subject of traditional embroideries from India. The author looks at the main types, including chikankari, kantha, kashida, Kashmir, phulkari and so forth, in addition there is a quick look at the embroidery from Gujarat, Manipur and Rajasthan. There are also two chapters that look at metal embroidery and on a small range of simple, embroidery stitches (English names only) respectively.
Recommendation: this book is intended to be an introduction to the subject and not a detailed academic study. It is useful for quick references and for some details that are not found elsewhere. It is clear that the author knows and understands embroidery, but sentences such as “Each art piece depicts an important theme” (page 119) leaves the reader feeling "could I please have some more details and information?". And alas it is not there.
PARMAL, Pamela A. (2012). Women’s Work: Embroidery in Colonial Boston, Boston: MFA Publications. ISBN 978-0878467785, hardback, 174 pp., fully illustrated in colour, with appendices and bibliography. Price: US $40.
This beautifully illustrated book is the result of ten years of research by the author, who is the Curator of Textile and Fashion Arts for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). During the course of her research, some 300 examples of ‘fancy work’ came to light, which also resulted in three exhibitions of needlework at the Museum of Fine Arts. ‘Fancy work’ was the term used to describe embroidery intended for show, in contrast to the ‘plain work’ of making textiles for domestic use. The period covered is from the mid-1600s to the late 1700s and includes samplers, stomachers, borders for petticoats, valances and coat-of-arms. The embroidery threads were usually silk and/or wool, worked on a linen plain weave background. There were buttonhole, eyelet, running, sawtooth, satin, stem, trellis, tent and cross stitches, among others. The social context of embroidery is also explored: needlework was seen as a way of keeping Puritan girls busy and out of trouble; it was an essential part of a girl’s education and was also used to showcase her domestic skills and so increase the possibility of a profitable marriage. A highlight of the book are the photographs and extensive notes about each type of embroidery featured.
Recommendation: This book is of importance to anyone interested in embroidery in general, and samplers in particular. It will also be of interest to anyone interested in American social history of the period, as well as the history of girls and women.
RUHE, Stella (2014). Dutch Traditional Ganseys: Sweaters from 40 Villages (with 60 knitting patterns), Baarn: Forte Uitgevers BV. ISBN 978-90-5877-359-3. Hardback, 176 pp., b/w and colour illustrations, bibliography, no index. Price: €25.
A basic and important garment worn by many fishermen working in the North Atlantic and Channel regions were hand knitted jumpers (sweaters). These jumpers are normally called Guernseys in British English (and often Ganseys in American English), after the Channel Island of Guernsey, where they were also worn by local fishermen. These garments not only kept the wearer warm, but traditionally the designs on the jumpers were used to identify the village from which a drowned fisherman came from. Ruhe has made a detailed study of a wide range of these jumpers and produced a range of patterns so that the designs can be easily recognized. The various forms have been divided into North Sea coast, Waddenzee and Zuiderzee coastal versions. There is an interesting introduction to the subject of these Dutch versions of the Guernsey jumpers and the important role they played in the social life of many fishing villages and towns. The book contains details about the knitting stitches, suitable threads, knitting needles, and so forth, as well as detailed instructions for re-knitting a wide variety of forms from Texel in the north to Arnemuiden in the south of the country. There are two related (but not identical) books. This example is written in English, and the second one, called Visserstruien 2: 65 historische truien met breischema’s uit 55 Nederlandse vissersplaatsen (see below).
Recommendation: A useful book both for the making of Gansey jumpers and for the identification of Dutch regional fishermen’s jumpers in public and private collections.
RUHE, Stella (2014). Visserstruien 2: 65 historische truien met breischema’s uit 55 Nederlandse vissersplaatsen, Baarn: Forte Uitgevers BV. ISBN 978-94-6250-019-8. Hardback, 176 pp., b/w and colour illustrations, bibliography, no index. Price: €25.
There are two related books in this series, this particular example is in Dutch, while the other book is in English, Dutch Traditional Ganseys: Sweaters from 40 Villages (with 60 knitting patterns) (see above). They are not identical with respect to text and images. The book looks at traditional, thick and warm, fishermen’s jumpers (called Guernseys or Ganseys), which are decorated in specific manners, sometimes used to identify which village a man came from, should he have an accident or is drowned. The author looks at various villages and the typical designs for these settlements and gives a variety of knitting patterns.
Recommendation: As with her other book, Stella Ruhe has created a useful book for the identification of Dutch fishermen’s jumpers in various collections, as well as for knitting enthusiasts who wish to recreate these intriguing garments.
SKINNER, Tina (2008). Nomadic Embroideries: India’s Tribal Textile Art (from the Sam Hilu Collection), Atglen: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 13: 978-0764330322. Hardback. Fully illustrated in colour. Short bibliography, no index. Price: US49.99.
This book is a bit of a disappointment. The title promises a lot, but it is basically a book full of pretty pictures, with very little information. It is intended to inspire people with a series of images, with the size of the object mentioned (in inches). But be aware, there are no details concerning what the object is, where it comes from, who made it, or even how it was made. Just page after page of colour images.
Recommendation: This is a book for artists and others looking for inspiration. It is not really suitable for a research oriented library or someone who wants to have information and details (as well as lots of close up details!).
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