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TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Buddhist robes

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Two Buddhist nuns in pink. Photograph by Shelley Anderson.

Two Buddhist nuns in pink. Photograph by Shelley Anderson.

I attended an international conference on Buddhist women recently and was fascinated with the variety of robes Buddhist nuns wore. It made me want to learn more.

Buddhism began some 2,500 years ago in northern India. There are three main traditions, each with a distinctive dress, and hundreds of denominations within each tradition.

The oldest tradition within Buddhism is Theravadan, practiced today mainly in southeast Asia. A Theravadan monk’s robe comes in three pieces: a sarong-like piece that falls from the waist to the ankles, tied by a cotton string; a rectangular piece (from two to almost three metres long) that is wrapped like a sari around the body, and draped over both shoulders or only the left shoulder; and a similar extra robe that can be worn in cold weather (called a sanghati robe). The nuns wear the same, plus a bodice underneath the robe.

“There’s a lot of fiddling and readjusting with Theravadan robes. They’re always slipping, as there’s no buttons or knots,” said an Australian Theravadan nun.

The colour of Theravadan robes ranges from orange to yellow to ochre. In Thailand, where there is a controversy about women’s ordination (hence, who can legally wear ordained robes), it can be a radical act for a nun to wear these robes.

Many Buddhist women in Thailand and Cambodia who want to renounce secular life wear a less controversial long white skirt, long-sleeved white blouse and a white rectangular cloth draped over their left shoulder. In Burma, nuns wear a saffron-coloured ankle-length skirt, a pink long-sleeved blouse and a pink rectangular cloth, again draped over their left shoulder.

Fortunately for Theravadans, the earliest Buddhist strictures around the appropriate cloth for robes no longer apply. Originally only cloth that had been thrown away was allowed: cloth soiled by childbirth or menstrual blood; gnawed by oxen or mice; burnt; or shrouds for the dead are specifically mentioned as permissible. Embellishing the robes by adding cowrie shells or owl feathers was prohibited. The cloth was scavenged, washed and then dyed with turmeric or saffron. These colours were supposedly considered unattractive. When I asked a Tibetan nun why her robes were maroon-coloured, I got a similar response: “It’s an unattractive colour.”

Theravadan nun from Thailand. Photograph by Shelley Anderson.

Theravadan nun from Thailand. Photograph by Shelley Anderson.

As Buddhism spread to northern Asia, robes changed. Exposing the right shoulder, a sign of respect in India, was considered indecent in China. There, nuns started to grow their own food rather than going on alms rounds. A grey long-sleeved tunic and loose trousers were practical to work in; a long-sleeved, ankle-length grey robe (adapted from Daoist robes), tied left over right; and an often differently coloured sanghati robe completed, and still completes, a Buddhist nun’s outfit. . “It’s very convenient and quick, if a visitor comes. Your clothes might be dirty from gardening but slip on a robe and you are ready to receive visitors to the temple,” a nun from Singapore told me.

It is the same in Korea, with some different details: a long grey cloth belt is knotted in front to close the robe. In some orders novices wear brown on their collars and cuffs for their first four years. A grey sun hat, grey tennis sneakers and grey knapsack may complete the nun’s every-day wear.

In Japan, a nun’s dress frequently consists of a white undershirt, and a short tunic and baggy trousers in grey or blue. A black ankle-length robe wrapped left over right (“You would frighten people if you wore it right over left—that’s for a dead person,” a young nun told me) can also be worn. This robe is made of a gauzy material for summer and a heavier material for winter (“It’s all polyester!” the same nun said).

Different denominations are shown by wearing different colored sashes over a shoulder, embroidered with the symbol of the denomination. More adaptations can be expected in robes as Buddhism spreads to the west. One Japanese teacher has suggested that American Buddhist robes should be made of blue denim, as it is inexpensive and common.

Shelley Anderson, 11th July 2017

   

Hand & Lock Embroidery exhibition

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Some military embroidery on show at the Hand & Lock exhibition. The jacket to the right is the TRC's Bethlehem jacket from Palestine, based on a British military uniform. It dates to the 1920s.

Some military embroidery on show at the Hand & Lock exhibition. The jacket to the right is the TRC's Bethlehem jacket from Palestine, based on a British military uniform. It dates to the 1920s.

I have just been to the Hand & Lock "250 Years of Embroidery" exhibition at the Bishopsgate's Institute (230 Bishopsgate) in London. It is only on for two days, so if you have the chance to see it tomorrow (13th July) then please make the effort, it is worth it.

It is a small, intense and thought provoking exhibition that includes a wide range of embroideries from various collections, including the Hand & Lock archives. There are some amazing examples of gold thread embroidery for military and general use, as well as beaded haute couture dress and jumpers, and letters and designs associated with the famous of the fashion and film world. There is, for example, a series of handbags made by Hand & Lock and designed by people such as Vivienne Westward. The handbags will be auctioned later in the year at Sotheby's with the process going to various charities (if only we had €20000 .....).

The exibition includes various themes, such as the history of craftsmanship and working with designers. It includes items from the following, very diverse sources: the Hand & Lock archives, the Diana Springall Collection, the Bishopgate Institute archives, the Lightfoot archive, as well as 'our' TRC Collection (lotus shoes from China, and the 'Bethlehem jacket' with imitation British military decoration; see illustration). The exhibition accompanies a one-day conference (13th July) at the same address about the history of embroidery, past, present and future.

For more information, click here.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 11th July 2017.

   

Visit to the Monastery of St. Ephrem the Syrian (pr. 2)

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Statue of Bishop Julius Yeshu Çiçek at the Monastery of St. Ephrem the Syrian, Glane, the Netherlands.

Statue of Bishop Julius Yeshu Çiçek at the Monastery of St. Ephrem the Syrian, Glane, the Netherlands.

After a first visit some weeks ago (click here), Willem and I last weekend have spent a little more time at the Syriac Orthodox monastery in Glane, in the east of the Netherlands. We went there to discuss further a display about the life and work of Bishop Julius Yeshu Çiçek, who died in 2005. We are slowly getting closer to the final form and feel, and only need a couple of large showcases..... We have sent letters to various museums and companies to see if they would be willing to donate suitable stands. Hopefully we will have some good news soon.

Following a discussion and demonstration of calligraphy by one of the monks it became clear that this skill played an important role in the life of the deceased bishop and to show his actual writing tools and manuscripts would be an important part of the display. He had a beautiful writing hand and to copy out the various gospels was literally a labour of love and devotion. The display will also include three of his outfits, as well as icons, staffs and objects worn and used by the bishop.

We also discussed the possibility of a book and a travelling exhibition about the Syriac Church, which has the working title, "The Illuminated Church" which will show the relationship between book illiuminations, vestments and embroidery. We have already started talking with members of the Syriac community in the Netherlands as well as nuns, monks and priests about the role that 'Syriac' clothing plays in their lives, at the level of individuals, families and during services. It is written from the outsiders point of view, which means they are going to be asked a lot of questions from two very curious people!

The proposed exhibition is going to include vestments and textiles, from the novice monk to, literally, the patriarch. It will also include manuscripts, book illuminations and texts, as well as embroidered textiles and garments for the congregation, monastic community and liturgical vestments for during a service.

As planned, the book and exhibition will be visually impressive and thought provoking, and hopefully will also inspire people to try a different range of designs and techniques. All being well both the book and the exhibition (which will be available for travelling to suitable venues in Europe and North America) will be ready and available by the summer of 2018.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Sunday 9th July 2017.

   

My grandfather in Cologne, 1919

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Embroidered postcard, TRC 2017.2571.

Embroidered postcard, TRC 2017.2571.

Family history tells that my maternal grandfather, Francis Redvers Collings, was one of the first British soldiers to enter the German city of Cologne after the ceasefire of 11th November 1918, which in fact ended the First World War. British troops first entered the German Rhineland on 3rd December 1918. The British Army of the Rhine would remain in Germany until 1929, with their headquarters in Cologne. I mention this because the TRC last week acquired an embroidered postcard with the text "1919 Souvenir of Cologne" (TRC 2017.2571).

This postcard was produced in the tradition of the First World War postcards, which were sent home by the Allied forces fighting in the trenches of northern France and elsewhere. We already discussed these postcards in a blog from October 2015. The cards were often decorated with patriotic symbols, including the flags of the Allied forces. This particular postcard also shows these flags, being incorprated into the year 1919. There are the flags from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and the USA.

This silk card, plus others from the TRC Collection, will shortly be part of a series of digital exhibitions that highlight different aspects of the TRC's collection.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 1st July 2017.

PS. By the way, my grandfather's middle name refers to General Sir Redvers Henry Buller (VC), the Commander-in-Chief of the British forces during the first few months of the Second Boer War in South Africa.

   

New acquisitions from Cambodia and Ethiopia

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The last week has brought some very different and varied items to the TRC. While we are continuing cataloguing the (vast) collection of textiles from the 20th century that were recently given to the TRC by Pepin van Rooijen (Amsterdam), we had some other items come in that we thought you might like to know about.

Detail of Cambodian silver thread textile, mid-20th century. TRC 2017.2572 2.

Detail of Cambodian silver thread textile, mid-20th century. TRC 2017.2572 2.

A Cambodian silver textile with a Dutch connection (TRC 2017.2572)

This is a another textile with a royal connection! Some years ago we were given an early 19th century lace shawl once owned by the Dutch queen, Anna Pavlovna (TRC 2014.0831). Now we have been given a length of purple with silver thread cloth that was given to Mrs. Eygenstein, Amsterdam by the Cambodian prince, Norodom Sondeth, a cousin to the then king, Norodom Sihanouk (1922-2012) and at that time the Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs. The textile was given as a 'thank you' to Mrs. Eygenstein following his stay in The Netherlands in 1952.

Mrs. Eygenstein was the translator for the prince and during his visit helped him in purchasing film and still cameras (a Hasselblad), as well as a motor bike (which he later crashed). The Eygenstein family and the prince stayed in contact for some years and he also sent a letter expressing his concern and regret for the Dutch people during the devastating floods of 1953 that killed hundreds of people, especially in Zeeland in the southern part of the country. They then lost contact, but in 1970's Mrs. Eygenstein tried to reach him again, but heard that he along with other, lesser members of the Cambodian royal family had been murdered by the Khmer Rouge, the communist group that came to power in 1975 under the command of Pol Pot.

The silver textile will be on display at the TRC in September as part of the Asia Year celebrations in Leiden. We would like to thank Mrs. Eygenstein's daughter, Mrs. Corretje Eijgenstein, for so very kindly giving this and other Asian textiles to the TRC. In particular she also gave a very large felt from Kyrgyzstan, which will be on display in the TRC Gallery as part of its Central Asian exhibition that opens on the 12th September.

Pair of Ethiopian trousers with embroidered legs, second half 20th century. TRC 2017.2570.

Pair of Ethiopian trousers with embroidered legs, second half 20th century. TRC 2017.2570.

Ethiopian embroidered trousers (TRC 2017.2567- 2017.2570)

On the same day that we were given the Cambodian and Central Asian textiles the TRC also acquired four pairs of men's trousers from Ethiopia. These date to the latter half of the 20th century and are associated with the Amhara people, from the northern and central highlands of the country.

Three of the trousers are made from narrow bands of locally woven cotton and they have been embroidered with circles, zig-zags and interlacing knots using various stitches, including chain stitch. The fourth pair is made from black machine woven cloth and embroidered using machine produced chain stitch. The TRC is slowly building up its collection of African textiles and garments, and these trousers add a new dimension to our holdings.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 1st July 2017

   

Two thousand new books for the TRC library

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The TRC has received a donation of some two thousand books for the ever-growing TRC library. Read more about this amazing gift, which will be added to the existing collection of almost 3000 publications on textiles and textile studies already catalogued.

Lees meer: Two thousand new books for the TRC library

   

Dressing the Church: Syriac Orthodox Church vestments and textiles

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Saint Ephrem Monastery of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Glane, The Netherlands.

Saint Ephrem Monastery of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Glane, The Netherlands.

The last few days have been very different for Willem and me. We spent the time in the Saint Ephrem, Syriac Orthodox Monastery in Glane in the east of the Netherlands. We had been invited to come to the monastery by HE Mor Polycarpus Augin Aydin, metropolitan bishop for the Syriac Orthodox Church in The Netherlands, following the opening of the TRC’s current exhibition about dress and diversity in the Middle East. An important part of the exhibition included Syriac monastic and liturgical garments and H.E. Mor Polycarpus officially opened the exhibition.

Many of the Syriac garments on display in the exhibition were donated by members of the Church and represent different levels, from monk and nun to bishop. Many of the items are embroidered in Turkey, but some are decorated in Kerala (India), where there is a large Syriac community. In addition we have just been given several (secular) outfits for a Syriac woman from the eastern part of Turkey. All of these items can be found in the TRC Collection database.

One of the main reasons for our visit is that the monastery wants to make a display of items relating to the life and work of the former Metropolitan Bishop, Mor Julius Yeshu Çiçek, who played an important role in the setting up of the Syriac Church in Europe and in The Netherlands in particular. The TRC has been asked to help with the display, which will include garments actually worn by the Bishop. The display will be opened on the 5th November 2017. In addition we have been asked to write a booklet about dress within the Syriac community and especially the monastic and liturgical forms. An exciting project indeed.

As part of this work we spent several days at the monastery and were able to attend various monastic services as well as a wedding and a baptism (of children and adults). We have also been given permission to ask a wide range of questions about the monastic way of life and the role of clothing as part of our research for the publication - ‘Dressing the Church’. We will be going back to the monastery in early July (just before we set off for India on another textile mission), to continue this work and see objects belonging to Mor Julius Yeshu Çiçek that will be used in the display. As you can imagine our list of questions is growing, but it will make the TRC’s collection of Syriac dress even more significant, when everything is put into context.

Gillian Vogelsang, 18th June 2017.

   

Garments made out of flour sacks

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I never thought I would get excited about printed sacks, but my interest in flour and food sacks and how they were used over the decades is increasing! I wrote in an early blog about a Canadian printed flour bag (TRC 2017.0422), which was sent to Belgium during the First World War (1914-1918), where it was embroidered by refugees. Thousands of similar bags made the same trip and some were then shipped back to Canada and the USA where they were given away as souvenirs, as well as sold in order to raise more money for buying and sending food to Belgium.

This item came with a group of embroideries given to the TRC by Pepin van Rooijen of Pepin Press, Amsterdam. Last week the TRC was given another group of textiles by Pepin, which included over thirty printed food sacks from the USA (for instance TRC 2017.1360). These were large bags made of cotton that were used for corn, flour, sugar, rice, and so forth in the USA and Canada.

Bag and sack producers soon discovered that if the cotton sacks were decorated with a colourful printed design, then people would buy their bags (and contents). By the 1920’s garments and household objects (such as curtains and quilts) made out of these food sacks became an economic necessity in many poorer families. With the Great Depression of the 1930’s even more families depended on these sacks to provide basic textile necessities for family and household use. The sacks came in various sizes and qualities depending on what was being stored in them – flour bags tended to be a finer cloth than, for example, those used for maize or sugar.

Most sacks were between 75-110 cm in length and 45-50 cm wide when folded in half (to create the sack). Lengths of cloth can often be identified as ex-food sacks by a line of course sewing (or the resulting needle holes) along two edges. Sometimes the name of the manufacturer was also printed onto the cloth (often using a washable ink), while on other occasions a pre-printed label was used that could be peeled off.

Mexican flour sack, TRC 2014.0194

Mexican flour sack, TRC 2014.0194

The designs used for the food sacks varied considerably – with each printing companying vying to get the most popular designs and so sell the most cloth to the food sellers. The patterns ranged from stripes geometric shapes, stylised flowers to images of pigs, horse racing and cowboys at work. The cheaper ones were in one colour, while more up market variations had two or three colours.

By the 1940’s thousands of metres of cloth were being printed each year to supply the need for decorative food sacks that could be bought, swapped and generally saved until enough pieces of the right colour and design were acquired that could be made into garments, such as underwear, dresses, skirts, blouses, aprons and head coverings. In order to encourage people/women to make more of such garments, various booklets were published on how to make the most out of these printed lengths of material. There were also large and popular annual competitions for the best and most ingenious use of such sacks. Courses were taught at local colleges and in people’s homes in how to make sacks into garments for domestic use, as well as for sale.

The production of printed food sacks stopped in the 1960’s as people became more affluent and paper, later plastic, bags took over the role of the printed cloth forms. But for many (older) people the role of food sack garments remains a powerful reminder of their childhood and the important role of make-do and mend and not to waste anything that can be re-used.

While looking for more information and examples, I suddenly remembered that there are three Mexican flour sacks in the TRC Collections (for instance TRC 2014.0194), as well as a blouse made from a flour sack (TRC 2015.0192). I also came across, in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, some early 20th century images of Syrian and Armenian refugee children (probably in Lebanon) wearing USA flour sacks, and of poor Americans in the southern states of the USA wearing similar sacks.

What is certain is that looking at a ‘humble’ flour or food sack will never be the same. The social and economic history as well as ingenuity and skills of people who made clothing from ‘nothing’ is highlighted by these sacks and the finished garments. We hope to have a small exhibition about these and similar garments in the future at the TRC, so if you have any examples of printed flour or food sack garments or textiles you would be willing to donate to the TRC please let me know at Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien.  

Gillian Vogelsang, 29 May 2017

   

Fowler Museum book donation

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As a follow up to my visit to the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, in April/May of this year, and my blog about the visit, I thought the TRC’s blog readers might be interested in having further details about the textile activities of the Museum and in particular about the Fowler Museum Textile Series (as far as I could see this series is not listed on the Fowler Museum website).

The series was started in 1998. It contains a series of well-illustrated monographs about the history and types of textiles and garments from around the world. These books are written by specialists in the various fields of textiles studies.

The Fowler Museum Textile Series includes the following titles. Copies of many of these books have recently been donated to the TRC:

  • Roy W. HAMILTON (1998), From the Rainbow’s Varied Hue: Textiles of the Southern Philippines (ISBN: 978-0930741655).
  • Doran H. ROSS (1989). Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity (ISBN: 978-0930741693).
  • Patrick DOWDEY (1999), Threads of Light: Chinese Embroidery from Suzhou and the Photography of Robert Glenn Ketchum (ISBN: 978-0930741716).
  • Anne SUMMERFIELD (1999), Walk in Splendor: Ceremonial Dress and the Minangkabau (ISBN: 978-0930741730).
  • Sharon Sadako TAKEDA (2002), Japanese Fishermen’s Coats from Awaji Island (ISBN: 978-0930741860).
  • Gloria Granz GONICK, Yo-ichiro HAKOMORI and Hiroyuki NAGAHARA (eds, 2003), Maturi! Japanese Festival Arts (ISBN: 978-0930741914).
  • Chapurukha M. KUSIMBA, J. Claire ODLAND and Bennet BRONSON (eds; 2007), Unwrapping the Textile Traditions of Madagascar (ISBN: 978-0930741945).
  • B. Lynne MILGRAM and Roy W. HAMILTON (2008). Material Choices: Refashioning Bast and Leaf Fibers in Asia and the Pacific (ISBN: 9780974872988).
  • Rens HERINGA (2010). Nini Towok’s Spinning Wheel: Cloth and the Cycle of Life in Kerek, Java (ISBN: 978-0977834426).
  • Roy W. HAMILTON (2012). Weavers’ Stories from Island Southeast Asia (ISBN: 978-0977834495).
  • Elizabeth Wayland BARBER and Barbara Belle SLOAN (eds; 2013). Resplendent Dress from Southeastern Europe: A History in Layers (ISBN: 978-0984755035).
  • Elena PHIPPS (2013). The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth: Ancient Threads/New Directions (ISBN: 9780984755059).
  • HAMILTON, Roy W. and Joanna BARRKMAN (eds., 2014). Textiles of Timor: Island in the Woven Sea, Los Angeles: Fowler Museum Textile Series no. 13. ISBN 978-0930741501.

All of these books are well worth having, as they provide detailed information about the use of textiles and dress in various parts of the world. In particular the colour illustrations make these volumes special. Over the next few months the Fowler Textile Series books now at the TRC will be described separately in the column Books Showcased.

Gillian Vogelsang, 28th May 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

   

Lyon, France

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Impression of the exhibition at the Musée de Lyon, France.

Impression of the exhibition at the Musée de Lyon, France.

Lyon, France, is proud of its textile history. This begins in the city’s airport, where mannequins in designer clothes are scattered throughout the arrival hall. Their plaques state that Lyon has been the Silk Capital of France since the 16th century, and continues to produce luxury silks, taffetas, velvets and laces for top fashion brands. Then there’s a Metro line called “La Soie” (“Silk”) and glossy advertisements for a candy named “Le Coussin de Lyon” (the “Cushion of Lyon”, after a silk cushion in front of a local statue of the Virgin Mary).

It is Lyon’s Textile Museum, however, that really showcases the city’s love affair with silk. The Museum has one of the world’s largest textile collections with some two and a half million objects, spanning 4000 years. The collection was begun in 1864 by the city’s Chamber of Commerce, which still runs the Museum. Herein lies a problem: several years ago the government cut its subsidies for Chamber of Commerces by 40 percent. The Lyon Chamber of Commerce decided it could no longer afford to keep the Textile Museum and its sister collection, the Museum of Decorative Arts.

Museum staff and supporters are working hard trying to secure private funding to keep the Museum open. If they do not succeed, the Museum may close at the end of this year and the collection will be divided up. Given that the Museum also houses a conservation and documentation centre and is headquarters, since 1954, for the prestigious Centre International de’Etude des Textiles Anciens (CIETA), this would be a blow to textile research.

It would also be a blow to the average textile lover, if the Museum’s most recent exhibition “The Genius of Industry” is an indication. It is a stunning exhibition of 18th and 19th century Lyonnaise fabrics, mostly used to decorate walls and furniture in wealthy homes or in palaces such as Versailles. The exhibition opens with a 19th century wood and iron dryer, beautifully decorated on the outside with Chinese images of silk production. The dryer was used to dry samples from silk bales. Silk can absorb up to one-third of its weight in water. Using this machine, prospective buyers were assured they were getting as much silk as possible.

And then come the stunning textiles: three metre long, beautifully preserved panels, many from silk and linen, often embellished with gold and silver thread. One such panel portrayed peacock feathers, bouquets of big flowers and broad ribbons, and used 48 different colours. This fabric decorated Marie-Antoinette’s bedroom walls. I was surprised at the narrowness of the panels, until I saw the exhibition’s Jacquard loom, with its width of about 40 centimetres. Because of meticulous record keeping, the names of the designer and the weaver (and, in the case of embroidery, the embroiderer) are often known. Each panel was accompanied by detailed technical information, unfortunately (for me) only in French. This is an exhibition that deserves to be seen—and a Museum that deserves to stay open.

By Shelley Anderson, 23rd May 2017

See also the blog of 22 May 2016. 

   

Philip V of Spain and Queen Maria Luisa: A serviette from 1701 with a long history

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The text and designs on the damask serviette woven for the wedding of Philip V of Spain and his wife, Queen Maria Luisa of Savoy, in 1701.

The text and designs on the damask serviette woven for the wedding of Philip V of Spain and his wife, Queen Maria Luisa of Savoy, in 1701.

The TRC has just acquired a large linen serviette (115 x 88 cm) that has a fascinating history. It is made from a damask weave and was designed to celebrate the marriage of King Philip V of Spain and Maria Luisa of Savoy in 1701. The cloth depicts the King and Queen, as well as the arms of both royal houses. The representations on the right hand side are a mirror image of those on the left hand side.

At the top of the cloth is the text VIVANT ET REGNENT PHILIPPUS V HISPANIARUM REX ET CONIUX EIUS LUDOVICA REGINA ('MAY PHILIPS V, KING OF THE SPANISH, AND HIS WIFE QUEEN LUISA LIVE AND REIGN LONG') set inside a laural wreath.

The reason why serviettes in this period were so large is because women's dresses were particularly grand and a large piece of cloth was needed to protect the garments during meals.

Philip V (1683-1746) was the grandson of Louis XIV of France. His accession to the Spanish throne in 1700, which led to close dynastic links between France and Spain and the shifting of the balance of power in Europe, resulted in the War of the Spanish Succession, which was concluded in 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht (and the occupation by Great Britain of Gibraltar, and the port of Antwerp being permanently blockaded by the Dutch). His wife was fourteen years old when she married. She died in 1714 of tuberculosis. 

Gillian Vogelsang, 10th May 2017

 

   

The TRC in Los Angeles

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Fowler Museum, Los Angeles

Fowler Museum, Los Angeles

For the last week or so I have been in sunny Los Angeles, soaking up ..... textiles. I was asked by the Fowler Museum, UCLA, to comment on a collection of Syrian garments they are in the process of being given by a private collector. The garments are a spectacular group and all being well will feature in an exhibition at the Museum in about 18 months from now.

I left Leiden on the Thursday in order to get over jet lag in time for work on the following Monday and to see some friends. Friday saw a visit to the Getty Museum, and the chance to see four hundred years of European paintings. Including some, but not as many as I had hoped for, with embroidered garments. It was worth it though, just to experience the Getty and its architecture.

On Saturday afternoon, I gave a lecture about embroidery in the Arab world to the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMA/SC) based in Los Angeles. Despite a change of venue and time there was a full house and extra chairs had to be sought. The lecture was called "1001 Embroidered Tales" and looked at the social and economic stories behind individual pieces and groups of embroideries in the Middle East. At the end of the meeting various members of the public displayed and talked about items they had brought with them. It was great fun. I also had the chance to talk about the work of the TRC and several people offered their help in obtaining pieces and thinking who might be willing to financially help the TRC. A special guest was Professor Olaf Kaper from Leiden, board member of the TRC, and presently in Los Angeles upon the invitation of the Getty.

We later also briefly discussed the possibility of setting up a non-profit society called "American Friends of the TRC." More about this in due course. One lady in particular, Marge Gajicki (The Folk Motif) went out of her way (literally as she lived in Long Beach about 50 km away) to get items of Hispanic and Western clothing, including a bolo tie that was given by her brother-in-law and several shirts of different styles, including Western, Hispanic and Hawaiian forms. Many thanks Marge! It means that I can face Shelley and Maria (two American volunteers at the TRC) with a calm heart when I get back as they want to build up the American dress collection at the TRC and I was given a shopping list, always an interesting moment.

A woman's outdoor coat from Uzbekistan, donated to the TRC by David and Elizabeth Reisbord.

A woman's outdoor coat from Uzbekistan, donated to the TRC by David and Elizabeth Reisbord.

Monday saw work start on the collection at the Fowler and the next few days were spent in photographing, cataloguing and discussing the collection, as well as talking with the exhibition and the publication committees. On Wednesday evening I gave a talk to the Fowler Textile Council at the Museum, with the chief curator of the Museum, Matthew Robb as my 'assistant'. One of the guests was Willeke Wendrich, now Professor of Egyptology in Los Angeles, who was one of the first Board members of the TRC in Leiden. She and her husband have been friends of long standing ! My talk was about the garments I was working on and the audience was given a sneak preview of an exhibition that does not (yet) exist. All I can say is that if and when the paper work is in order it will be a colourful and surprising display of Syrian garments, most of which date to the early 20th century.

While at the Fowler Museum it was mentioned that they had a series of books about textiles and clothing (well worth looking into). So on behalf of the TRC Library I went into begging mode and Marla Berns, the director of the Museum, very kindly agreed that the TRC could have any books on textiles and dress in their various series. This amount to 22 titles! Not only that, but the Museum paid for their postage to Leiden as they were far too heavy for me to take back in my (small) suitcase. This is a very generous gift and one which is greatly appreciated. The books will appear in the TRC Books Showcased over the next few months, we may even have a special issue dedicated to Fowler books.

The next few days prior to leaving were spent with friends, David and Elizabeth Reisbord, looking at their textile collection and dreaming of what the TRC could and should do in the future. They very kindly gave the TRC a group of Guatemalan textiles and garments and Indian embroideries. The latter will be used in the TRC's forthcoming encyclopaedia about embroideries from Iran, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. In addition, the TRC was given several textiles and a woman's coat from Uzbekistan, which can be seen in our forthcoming exhibition called "Dressing the Stans" that opens in September 2017 at the TRC Gallery.

Before signing off I would like to thank various people for making my trip to LA particularly memorable, notably David and Elizabeth Reisbord, Marla Berns (director of the Fowler Museum), Matthew Robb (senior curator of the Fowler Museum), the dedicated members of the TMA/SC and those of the Fowler Textile Council, many of whom belong to both groups. There is certainly a lot happening within the textile and dress field in the LA district and more is coming. Well worth keeping an eye on.

And the highlight of my trip to LA? Paddling in the Pacific Ocean with Elizabeth….

Gillian Vogelsang, 9th May 2017

   

Watteau in the Teylers Museum, Haarlem

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Watteau in the Teylers Museum, Haarlem.

Watteau in the Teylers Museum, Haarlem.

“Watteau” is an exhibition now at the Teylers Museum in Haarlem. There is much to interest anyone with a love for fashion and textiles at this exhibit. Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) was an influencial French painter, famous for his depictions of prosperous people enjoying themselves at the theatre, dances, hunts and in nature. Watteau himself was fascinated by costumes and fashion. Clothing is prominent in the many prints and chalk sketches on display.

During his life time, French dress was changing from a heavy and ornate style, espoused by King Louis XIV, to less restrictive and simpler wear. This trend was influenced by a revival of interest in ancient Rome and Greece—and in what 18th century Europeans thought the ancients wore. Silk, velvet and brocade were popular materials in 18th century France and a lighter material, a mix of silk and cotton called bombazine, was also coming into fashion.

Watteau’s passion for dress is clear from the dozens of etchings, prints and paintings on display. He drew peasants and soldiers, but also Persians (an official Persian envoy reached Paris in 1715), merchants and aristocrats, always highlighting their clothing. Watteau also drew fashion plates himself. These were commissioned, not by fashion houses, but by publishers who wanted to profit from the public’s eagerness for fashion.

A very clear idea of contemporary French style emerges: men in flared coats and breeches, women in long gowns with wide hips made using metal paniers or hoops. Both men and women’s clothing is beautifully embroidered, details which Watteau meticulously represents in his work. The patterns reminded me of many designs in TRC’s Van Gerwen collection of 16th to 18th century European silks and velvets.

Fortunately there is also a real 18th century woman’s dress on display at the exhibit, loaned by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. This is a beautiful cream-coloured silk dress, dated around 1760, worn for both day and evening wear. The dress is damask, with woven stripes and tendrils, and decorated in a multi-coloured pattern of flowers. There are deep box pleats from shoulder to floor at the back. Watteau painted this type of gown so often that this style is actually called pli Watteau.

In an age without mass communication, Watteau’s paintings and drawings helped to spread ideas of fashionable wear. Also on display are masks and costumes, futuristic and whimsical in turn, created specifically for the exhibit by fashion students of the Rietveld Academy. Watteau is still inspiring fashion today.

“Watteau” is on until 14 May at the Teylers Museum: www.teylersmuseum.nl

Shelley Anderson, 25th April 2017

   

Therapeutic sewing for Syrian refugees, anno 1917

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British wounded soldiers sewing for Syrian/Palestinian refugees.

British wounded soldiers sewing for Syrian/Palestinian refugees.

We just came across a remarkable photograph housed in the Library of Congress. The photograph is particularly poignant considering the current situation in the Middle East. But it also illustrates an old relationship between sewing, embroidering, and the military.

The Red Cross caption card tells the following: "British soldiers sewing for the Syrian refugees. A favorite pastime which has excellent results is the work of the convalescent soldiers now recuperating in Egypt... The men are busily making clothes for the destitute inhabitants of Palestine." The photograph probably dates to the period 1917-1920.

Sewing and working embroidery were often used in the past to help soldiers recovering from war-time wounds and traumas. TRC Needles provides some examples. Compare for instance the Bradford Khaki Handicrafts Club, which was established in 1918 in Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK, to provide occupational therapy and employment for men returning from the First World War (1914-1918).

The Casdagli sampler, 1941.

The Casdagli sampler, 1941.

Another example is a piece of embroidery made by Major Alexis Casdagli during the Second World War (1939-1945). He was captured in 1941 and remained a POW until the end of the war. While in captivity, he worked an embroidery that contained hidden messages worked in Morse code ("God save the King", and "Fuck Hitler"). During his captivity, Casdagli also ran a needlework school for other officers in the POW camps. He later said that the Red Cross saved his life with food parcels and letters, but his embroidery saved his sanity: “If you sit down and stitch you can forget about other things, and it’s very calming.”

Finally there is private Thomas Walker, who was wounded in 1854 during the Crimean War. He was painted by Thomas Wood while sewing triangles from pieces of military uniforms. The Morning Chronicle tells us the following:

Tuesday, December 25, 1855: The Queen has forwarded to Private Thomas Walker, 95th Regiment, a present of £10. On her Majesty's last visit to Fort Pitt she was struck with a quilt brought to her notice as the work of Walker, and desired that it might be forwarded to her Majesty, which has recently been done through Colonel C. B. Phipps.

Private Walker, by Thomas William Wood, 1856.

Private Walker, by Thomas William Wood, 1856.


Monday, March 3, 1856
: An artist is engaged in the Military Hospital, Fort Pitt, Chatham, completing an oil painting of Thomas Walker, 95th Regiment, who has been an inmate at the hospital for fourteen months, during which period the entire top of his skull has been removed by skilfull operation at different periods by Mr. William Perry, surgical operator. The painting, which is intended for an exhibition, represents Thomas Walker in bed, busily engaged sewing together pieces of different coloured cloth, for the purpose of making the quilt which the Queen, upon seeing, was pleased to order to be sent to the palace. A part of the pattern is represented in the picture lying outside the bed. It was at the battle of Inkerman this youth received his wound, by a shell bursting directly over his head, which it fractured in the most extraordinary manner, causing insensibility for several days, until a piece of bone which pressed on his brain was removed.

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 25th April 2017

 

   

Yippee ki-ya! Cowgirl clothes

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Detail of a cowgirl shirt embroidered with horse rider. TRC 2017.0267

Detail of a cowgirl shirt embroidered with horse rider. TRC 2017.0267


Pepin van Rooijen of Pepin Press, Amsterdam, recently donated many boxes of textiles to the TRC. Among them are some welcome additions to our North American collection: cowgirl clothes. Sometimes called Western wear, these items include long sleeve, plaid shirts (TRC 2017.0252 and TRC 2017.0253) and shirts with distinctive piping around the yoke and snap buttons (TRC 2017.0269 and TRC 2017.0264), sometimes embroidered with horses or red roses (TRC 2017.0257, TRC 2017.0267, TRC 2017.0253). There is an iconic buckskin-like jacket with fringes and an accompanying leather skirt with fringes on the hem (TRC 2017.0274 and TRC 2017.0275).

 

Leather and snakeskin 'cowgirl' boots. TRC 2017.0272a-b.

Leather and snakeskin 'cowgirl' boots. TRC 2017.0272a-b.

Western wear evolved during the nineteenth century in the American West for work in harsh conditions. There were many influences: buffalo skin coats, moccasins (worn before the mass production of boots) and decorative fringes on leather garments came from Native Americans; broad-brimmed hats, heavy belts decorated with silver, and leather chaps originated from Spanish and Mexican riders, as did the custom of embroidering red roses on shirts. Chaps evolved from a sort of leather apron, split in half in order to wrap around the legs to protect valuable cloth trousers from being damaged by cacti or dirt.

The story of Western wear is also the story of American business: the use of plaid, or tartan, supposedly arose from Scottish
traders exchanging such cloth for goods by Native Americans. The iconic ten-gallon hat was invented by a hat maker from New Jersey, who moved to the West for his health. John B. Stetson fashioned a felt hat with a wide brim to keep off the sun; he gave his hat a water proof lining so he could also use it as a water bucket. Westerners liked his invention: he started mass producing hats in 1865. Shoemaker Charles Hyer of Kansas is said to have created the cowboy boot in the mid-1870s, getting inspiration from the boots that soldiers wore during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Also in the 1870s, a German immigrant named Levi Strauss started marketing tough work trousers made of blue denim, reinforced with rivets for more strength.

Detail of a cowgirl shirt embroidered with horserider. TRC 2017.0267

Detail of a cowgirl shirt embroidered with horserider. TRC 2017.0267


Last but not least, many of the Western wear garments recently acquired by the TRC carry the brand name Roebuck. This brand was launched in 1949 by one of America’s biggest retailers, the Sears Company, to advertise their blue jeans. By the 1950s, films and television Westerns had made cowboy wear popular in all parts of the USA. The Sears’ jeans were advertised as “friendly fittin’ as a western saddle.” The brand continues today as Sears’s line of work clothes. You can see more images of the TRC’s collection of Western wear at the TRC’s on-line catalogue.

Shelley Anderson, 12 April 2017

 

 

 

   

TextielPlus at the TRC

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In the March 2017 issue of TextielPlus there was a long article about the TRC, its origins, work and the people who run this amazing place (if I may say so myself….). TextielPlus also helped organise a special day (8th April) at the TRC for its subscribers. This event consisted of two groups, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, of textile lovers, who had the chance of a guided tour of the TRC and its latest exhibition about dress and identity in the Middle East.

Both sets of visitors were very enthusiastic and enjoyed the visit to the storages, workshop, shop, as well as the exhibition. No one within the group had ever been to the TRC before, so it was a welcome opportunity to get to know each other. People had the chance to see some embroideries from the recently acquired Pepin Collection, which have featured in an earlier TRC Blog, namely a First World War flour bag embroidery, and a Gudetenland [sic] embroidery dating to the beginning of the Second World War. Two embroideries with two very different stories behind them.

The forthcoming Banjara Embroidery Crowd Funding was also discussed (starting on the 10th April 2017) and the ‘thank you’s’ were shown, including various examples of hand embroidered panels made by a group of nomadic Banjara women in southern India. These are beautiful pieces and are definitely textile ‘wants’. I suspect several donations will be coming via this talk!

A wide range of questions were posed about the running of the TRC, donations (object wise and financial) as well as its future. A number of people also signed up to become Friends of the TRC and offered help in various manners, which is much appreciated.

It was fun having the TextielPlus visitors, a group who are very familiar with the world of textiles and use this medium for various art forms. It was clear that they also understood and appreciated the TRC and what we do. It is our intention to have more open days at the TRC in the future. The next one will be on the 28th May 2017 and is being organised with the Dutch group Merkwaardig and will be about samples and samplers.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 9th April 2017

   

Back in time: Two new and fascinating acquisitions for the TRC Collection

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Machine embroidered memento of the German annexation of Gudetenland. TRC 2017.0423

Machine embroidered memento of the German annexation of Gudetenland. TRC 2017.0423

A few months ago we were given a large collection of textiles and garments by Pepin van Rooijen of Pepin Press, Amsterdam. We are slowly going through the many boxes, photographing, cataloguing and numbering the contents. Various pieces and groups are now online, including Lebanese fashion garments, cowgirl outfits and garments (part of the USA collection), as well as many items of hand and machine lace.

The last few days have seen us looking at the embroidery boxes. One box in particular contained many examples of machine embroidery that represent various techniques and machines types. The box also included some surprises, such as a skilfully worked piece of machine embroidery depicting the mythical phoenix bird and the text "Gruss aus Gudetenland!" Gudetenland [sic] used to be part of Czechoslovakia and consisted of a German speaking enclave (part of Sudetenland). In 1938 it became part of Germany following Hitler's annexation of Austria, Sudetenland and the Polish Corridor. After the end of the Second World War (1939-1945), Gudetenland was once again made part of Czechoslovakia, its name was changed and most of the German population was forced to emigrate.

The use of a German text and the image of a phoenix (a bird image relating to re-birth and resurgence) suggest that this embroidery dates to the late 1930's or early 1940's and reflects the annexation by Hitler's Germany of parts of what was then Czechoslovakia.

A second embroidery from one of the boxes is also related to war, but this time the First World War (1914-1918). From October 1914, various American and Canadian charities purchased food, including flour, for sending to Belgium. The flour mills started to send their flour in cotton bags to the Netherlands (which was neutral during the war). This vital commodity was then sent onto war stricken Belgium. Many of these bags had printed designs wishing the Belgian people peace or with patriotic symbols and messages. See also the TRC Needle entry on this subject.

Embroidered flower bag, First World War. TRC 2017.0422

Embroidered flower bag, First World War. TRC 2017.0422

These bags were re-used for a wide variety of functions, including garments, curtains, bedding and so forth. Many were also cut up and the printed sections were embroidered in Belgium and some of them then sent back to Canada and the USA as souvenirs, to raise money and as a way of saying 'thank you' for the flour.

Among the collection we were given by Pepin there is the front section of a flour bag that has been hand embroidered. The embroidered flour bag includes the texts "Campbell and Ottewell Peace Maker Patent Edmonton - Alta Bemis Winnipeg". There is also a large image of a flying dove (symbol of peace) carrying stalks of wheat. All of this indicates that this is a WW1 embroidered flour bag. The bag was produced by the Canadian flour milling company of Cambell and Ottewell of Edmonton, Alberta. The company was founded in 1899 under the name of the Dowling Milling Company by Ezia Dowling (died 1907). Its general manager was A. G. Campbell. In 1906 the company was sold to the partnership of Campbell and a man called Richard Phillip Ottewell (1848-1942). The mill was initially called the City Flour Mills and shortly afterwards re-named Campbell and Ottewell Co.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 5 April 2017

   

New online textile catalogue

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Publishing an on-line digital record of a collection allows the public greater access. That’s why the TRC has its entire collection of over 14,000 textiles, garments, accessories (headgear, footwear, jewellery, walking sticks, etc.), plus textile tools involved in hand spinning and weaving, on-line. While not every item has a detailed description or photograph yet, it does allow the interested public, including researchers and collectors, access to our international collection. This includes fragile items that might be damaged by light or moisture if put on public display.

Twelve Dutch museums for these same reasons joined hands in 2015 to share their collections via the on-line platform www.Modemuze.nl. A small but interesting display of real-time textiles and fashion accessories from this collaboration can be seen in Amsterdam’s Central Public Library (OBA). The handful of dresses chosen for display range from the traditional to the futuristic. The ‘traditional’ includes an evening gown of Queen Juliana (1909-2004), made in 1948 by the Swiss designer Erwin Dolder. It was worn on several occasions by the Queen, including during her first official visit to France in 1950. What intrigued me was that Princess Margaret wore the same gown in 1983, during a visit to Canada.

A more futuristic dress was made in 2015/2016 for the ‘Velero’ collection by designer Jef Montes, in cooperation with the Textielmuseum Tilburg. This was a floor-length, voluminous garment made with a mix of gold metallic thread, carbon and glass fibres. My favourite is a dress designed in 2002 by Dutch textile artist Claudy Jongstra. This is an elegant, strapless floor-length dress, made of felted wool and silk. It was commissioned by a Japanese woman for her wedding dress. It’s an off-white colour, which makes the vivid red phoenix stitched on the back even more striking. The large felted bow on the back is reminiscent of the obi on a traditional kimono. Interspersed between the dresses are displays of purses and hats—and lap tops where the visitor can access thousands of more textiles.

The exhibit is on until May 31. A series of lectures has also been organized: see www.oba.nl for more information. And don’t forget to look at some of the textiles in the TRC’s on-line collection at www.trc-leiden.nl/collection/. Every week new information is added to the database by a team of dedicated colleagues.

Shelley Anderson, 4th April 2017

   

Opening of the Kaftan to Kippa exhibition, 1st April 2017

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His Excellency Mor Polycarpus Augin Aydin (Metropolitan of the Syriac Orthodox Church in The Netherlands), talking with one of the young guests.

His Excellency Mor Polycarpus Augin Aydin (Metropolitan of the Syriac Orthodox Church in The Netherlands), talking with one of the young guests.

Yesterday (1st April 2017) His Excellency Mor Polycarpus Augin Aydin (Metropolitan of the Syriac Orthodox Church in The Netherlands), opened the TRC’s latest exhibition, From Kaftan to Kippa: Dress and Diversity in the Middle East. This crowded, colourful and varied exhibition is one of the most complicated (and full) exhibitions ever attempted by the TRC.

And it works! The exhibition is based on the PhD thesis of Tineke Rooijakkers (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam), who has been a TRC volunteer since she was a first-year archaeology student. It also forms part of a larger scale project (Fitting in / Standing out) of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, which is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The aim of the project, and the current exhibition, is to show how people use clothing to express their desire to stand out in a crowd, and in some cases the exact opposite, to blend into a crowd.

The exhibition includes historical pieces, modern Islamic dress, Coptic outfits for the laity and clergy, Druze, Palestinian, Samaritan, Jewish, Syriac Orthodox Christian, as well as Bedouin and Kurdish garments. There are over eighty outfits for men, women and children, as well as accessories and textiles.

The opening of the exhibition was attended by over sixty people, who mingled among the mannequins to create an even bigger crowd. The opening welcome came from Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director of the TRC, who was followed by Prof. Bas ter Haar Romeny, who gave details about the history of the main project and how Tineke’s work fitted into the research programme.  Tineke subsequently gave a more personal view of her work on dress and diversity in Egypt and, more specifically, among the Coptic community. Prof Romeny presented His Excellency Mor Polycarpus with the first copy of the booklet accompanying the exhibition. His Excellency spoke some warm words of appreciation and expressed the wish to work with the TRC again in the near future. He thereupon officially opened the exhibition.

The Kurdish part of the exhibition was partially organized by the 'Federatie Koerden in Nederland' and it was only fitting that following the official opening Kurdish snacks and sweets were provided for the guests. The snacks were made by a Kurdish baker here in Leiden and were greatly appreciated by all.

The exhibition is open until the end of June 2017. It is then available to other institutes or museums for loan purposes. Every Wednesday afternoon at 14.00 there will be a guided tour of the exhibition. This will cost €7.50 pp (inc. tea/coffee) and will take about one hour. It is not necessary to book in advance, but if you are coming with a group it would be appreciated if you ring to make sure there are enough spaces free on the tour.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 2nd April 2017

   

Genghis Khan in Soest

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It is not often that you see the entrance to a military museum covered with hundreds of colourful cotton Buddhist prayer flags (see a previous blog, dated 16 August 2014). But that is what first greets the visitor to the latest exhibition of the National Military Museum (in Soest, the Netherlands). The prayer flags are not the only textiles in the exhibition “Genghis Khan: World Conqueror”. There are some 800 objects on view, most of them on loan from the Inner Mongolia Museum in Hohhot, China.

The bulk of the objects relate to Genghis Khan (1162-1227) himself or to the Mongol Empire he created during 21 years of constant war. The objects include iron arrows from the Liao Dynasty (circa 907-1125 CE); quivers of birch bark or leather from the early 13th century; an 800-year old iron helmet; and a silver saddle and stirrups used today in ceremonial sacrifices to Genghis Khan. There are also beautifully preserved garments from China’s Yuan Dynasty (1260-1368 CE), the period when Genghis Khan’s grandson, Kublai Khan, united and ruled over China.

The first Yuan garment is a pair of baggy silk trousers, excavated in 2010. These trousers would be worn by a wealthy Mongol man, under a long sleeved silk robe that would reach above his ankles. The Chinese had been spinning and weaving silk for over 2000 years by this time; in some parts of China bolts of silk had been used as currency. Wearing silk was a public statement of wealth and power that the Mongols eagerly adopted.

Also on display is a government official’s robe made of hemp and cotton, in what looked to me like damask. Kublai Khan had decreed that all official uniforms had to have the right side of the robe folded over the left. This was a reversal of tradition. Interestingly, this man’s robe had a left lapel. A subtle sign of resistance to Mongol authority? Or some lower level bureaucrat who could not afford a newer robe?

Another Yuan robe, also a man’s, is similar in shape but of much better quality. This robe is woven with gold thread (nasij) in a pattern of sphinxes with crowns on their heads. Nasij is a brocade. The word comes from the Persian for ‘gold thread’. This type of weaving was highly prized by the Mongols, who reportedly moved whole villages of weavers from Central and Western Asia to China, in order to teach Chinese weavers how to make this cloth of gold.

In another part of the exhibition there is another Yuan-period garment. This is a Barag Mongol tribe woman’s dress, a silk brocade robe with long sleeves and puffy shoulders. Two modern garments are also on display. One is a modern Sunit man’s robe and trousers, the other a modern Mongol wrestler’s outfit, with a leather harness, baggy trousers and high leather boots.

There are other interesting objects pertaining to dress. One is a shaman’s robe (Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911), a gown covered in long, broad, multi-coloured silk ribbons, some of which end in red tassels. The ribbons are thought to symbolize feathers, indicating that the shaman (who could be female or male) could turn into a bird and fly. Bells, arrows and animal bones are also sewn on the garment, as are differently sized bronze discs, used as mirrors. A mask is also worn with the dress during ceremonies.

One other object deserves mention. This is a gugu crown, worn by upper-class married Mongol women. This one, too, is from the Yuan period. It is a tall, cylindrical object, made from bamboo and covered in silk and jewelry. It’s bifurcated at the top. Given the bamboo frame, such high status objects are fragile and rarely found intact.

“Genghis Khan: World Conqueror” is open now until 27 August 2017.

Shelley Anderson, 26 March 2017

   

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Financiële giften

The TRC is afhankelijk van project-financiering en privé-donaties. Al ons werk wordt verricht door vrijwilligers. Ter ondersteuning van de vele activiteiten van het TRC vragen wij U daarom om financiële steunGiften kunt U overmaken op bankrekeningnummer NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, t.n.v. Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Omdat het TRC officieel is erkend als een Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling (ANBI), en daarbij ook nog als een Culturele Instelling, zijn particuliere giften voor 125% aftrekbaar van de belasting, en voor bedrijven zelfs voor 150%. Voor meer informatie, klik hierVoor het overmaken van giften, kunt U ook gebruik maken van Paypal: