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Two thousand new books for the TRC library

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.

Read more: Two thousand new books for the TRC library


Reviews of selected new acquisitions for the TRC library, June 2017

For the latest book reviews of selected new acquisitions for the TRC library, click here. The list discusses the titles listed below. For the full digital catalogue of the TRC library, click here.

  • ALTMAN, Patricia B. and Caroline D. WEST (1992). Threads of Identity: Maya Costume of the 1960s in Highland Guatemala.
  • BALAKRISHNAN, Usha R and Thomas K. SELIGMAN (2017). Enduring Splendor: Jewelry of India’s Thar Desert.
  • BARBER, Elizabeth Wayland and Barbara Belle SLOAN (eds; 2013). Resplendent Dress from Southeastern Europe: A History in Layers.
  • ENSS, Chris (2006). How the West Was Worn: Bustles and Buckskins on the Wild Frontier.  
  • HERINGA, Rens (2010). Nini Towok’s Spinning Wheel: Cloth and the Cycle of Life in Kerek, Java.
  • HOPKINS, Alan and Vanessa HOPKINS (2015). Footwear: Shoes and Boots from the Hopkins Collection.
  • GEORGE-WARREN, Holly and Michelle FREEDMAN (2006). How the West was Worn: A History of Western Wear.
  • KUSIMBA, Chapurukha M., J., Claire ODLAND and Bennet BRONSON (eds; 2007), Unwrapping the Textile Traditions of Madagascar.
  • PLOMP, Michiel and Martin SONNABEND (2017). Watteau.
  • YEROUSHALMI, David (2012). Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews. 

Guided tours of Kaftan to Kippa exhibition.

Every Wednesday afternoon, from 5 April until 28 June, the TRC organizes a guided tour of the current exhibition, From Kaftan to Kippa. The guided tour will take about one and a half hours; starts at 14.00, tea and coffee are provided. We charge a fee of 7.50 euros. Those who are interested need not register beforehand.

In addition, it is possible to book the TRC for group visits to see the a exhibition. Please contact the TRC for further details concerning dates and tariffs.


Ikats and ikat weaving from Kalimantan/Borneo, 12-24 August 2017

The Textile Research Centre (TRC Leiden) is very proud to announce a special exhibition and series of workshops about ikats and ikat weaving from Kalimantan/Borneo, Indonesia, between 12 and 24 August 2017. The weavers and their products come from the Sintang Regency (Kabupaten Raya), West Kalimantan. At the TRC they will mount a small exhibition of their products, and organise a series of workshops on the dyeing of the threads and the weaving of the ikat cloths. A special opening of the programme includes traditional dances in ikat costumes.

A detailed programme will shortly be published. If you are interested, please let us know at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , to make sure that you receive all relevant information.


Facebook: now more than 3500 'friends'

Since mid-2014, the TRC is building up a thriving and colourful Facebook community. By the beginning of June 2017 we reached the amazing number of 3500 'friends'. In this way, this medium has become an even more important tool for disseminating information about the TRC, and about textiles in general. Read brief and up-to-date items about the TRC and other textile and dress related subjects. And all with beautiful photographs! Subscribe with 'like', and automatically receive all the new information. Click on the logo !


New TRC Gallery Exhibition: From Kaftan to Kippa: Dress and Diversity in the Middle East, 3 April - 28 June 2017

From Kaftan to Kippa exhibition, TRC, April-June 2017

From Kaftan to Kippa exhibition, TRC, April-June 2017

When thinking of the Middle East, stereotype images of bearded men and veiled women tend to come to mind. But this neighbour of Europe is far more diverse than we think. In the past few years, media coverage of the Arab Spring​ and​ the dramatic war in Syria​ and Iraq​ has placed groups such as the Copts and Kurds in the limelight, but there are many more ethnic and religious groups that are similarly not defined by national borders.

This exhibition showcases the rich dress traditions of some of the groups living in the Middle East, highlighting the intricate history of this region. They include Copts, Bedouin,​​​ Palestinians, ​Druze, ​Orthodox Jews, Samaritans, ​Kurds and Zoroastrians​. The dress​ traditions of these groups will be displayed and discussed​ in relation to 'mainstream' Middle Eastern dress​. The​ ​​exhibition displays more than forty complete outfits for men, women​,​ and children, together with ​individual garments, footwear, headgear and​ prayer beads​. It also includes an historical section on Ottoman-style clothing, such as the kaftan and the fez, which so often has influenced contemporary clothing traditions in the Middle East. ​​Many of the items ​​on display encompass​ traditionally woven and embroidered decorative forms.

The exhibition forms part of the Fitting In / Standing Out project of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

For a photographic impression of the exhibition, click here.

The exhibition will be on display from Monday 3rd April until Thursday 29th June, from Monday to Thursday, from 10.00 - 16.00. Entrance is free, but voluntary donations are welcome. Guided tours are given every Wednesday afternoon, from 14.00. Costs: € 7.50 p.p. Registration beforehand is not required.


TRC Intensive Textile Course, 16-20 October 2017

TRC Intensive Textile Course, 12-16 April 2017

TRC Intensive Textile Course, 12-16 April 2017

TRC has been organising an intensive textile course for many years. The next intensive week-long textile course will take place from 16-20 October 2017. The course is being in English by Dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, textile and dress historian and director of the TRC. The course is a mixture of theoretical and practical elements, with an emphasis on trying out the various techniques of textile production (spinning, dyeing, weaving), on holding and examining fibres, textiles and finished items, all in order to learn and understand what is happening and why various combinations take place. The aim is to make textiles less ‘frightening’ and allow people to look at a textile, from virtually any historical period or culture, and be able to understand it.

The course will again be given in 2018, from 12-16 March and from 23-27 April. 

Read more: TRC Intensive Textile Course, 16-20 October 2017


From September: Dressing the "Stans". Textiles, dress and jewellery from Central Asia

Hunting cloth, used in Nuristan to disguise the hunter. Afghanistan, mid-20th century. TRC 2016.1773

Hunting cloth, used in Nuristan to disguise the hunter. Afghanistan, mid-20th century. TRC 2016.1773

As part of the 2017 Asia Year celebrations in Leiden, the Textile Research Centre is presenting a fascinating and colourful exhibition about textiles, dress and jewellery from Central Asia: the so-called ‘Stans’ (‘Land of…’), namely Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The exhibition will include traditional textiles, garments and accessories for men, women and children, from all parts of this vast and relatively unknown part of the world. On display there will be many items including ikats, velvets and embroideries from the ‘Stans’ in general. But there will also be more specific items, such as Afghan chapans (the type of coat made famous by ex-President Hamid Karzai, and which he wore during his visit to Leiden in 2008), buzkashi apparel (used in the "goat-grabbing" game of Central Asia) , as well as hunting hoods and cloths, used to 'hide' the hunter. From Uzbekistan there will be examples of the famous suzani embroideries and ikat dresses and coats, while the Turkmen will be represented by a range of traditional and silver jewellery and garments for women.

The exhibition will be open to the general public from 11th September until 22nd December 2017.



Hand & Lock, London

The London-based embroidery firm of Hand & Lock, famous for their ceremonial, ecclesiastical and military embroideries was founded in 1767, and is this year therefore celebrating its 250th anniversary. To mark the occasion, they are organising three major conferences on the theme of 'Heritage, the Now and the Future of Embroidery'. The first meeting will take place in Sydney on 6 April; the second in Chicago, on 8 June, and the third and last in London, on 13 July (Bishopsgate Institute). The conferences will coincide with a three-day workshop on tambour embroidery, and the mounting of a special exhibition.

The TRC has for some time been building up a strong and very cordial relationship with Hand & Lock, and their representatives have visited the TRC in Leiden last year, and early January of this year, we paid a return visit. For the 13 July conference of Hand & Lock in London, Dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director of the TRC, has been invited to give a special guest lecture and to sit on a panel together with other embroidery experts. For more information, please consult the Hand & Lock website.


TRC Encyclopedia wins prestigious international prize

The TRC Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (London: Bloomsbury, 2016) has been awarded the 2017 Dartmouth Medal. This is THE most prestigious reference book award in the world. It is granted by the American Library Association every year to just one book.

The press packet of the ALA states: The “Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World” is a unique and exceptional reference work.  It is both an anthropological and historical source discussing the relationships of identity and adornment and a tool for learning about the craft of embroidery.  It is aesthetically and organizationally pleasing with beautiful full-color illustrations, useful appendices and an index and chapter organization that allow access to topics by country, religious group, cultural event, or ceremonial use.  The presentation of this print volume lends itself to browsing, brief consultation and deep reading.  The “Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World” is an entry point to the topic for varied educational levels with interest in adornment, craft, history and culture.   

For further details about the award please click here.  A big thanks to everyone who helped with the production of this wonderful book!!

Copies of the book are available via Bloomsbury.


How to support the TRC

The TRC is growing rapidly, both in size and in the quality of the collection, the library, the exhibitions, the number of workshops, and much more. All of this means that more financial support is highly desirable. And please bear in mind that all TRC activities are carried out by volunteers!

Please transfer your donation to account NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden.

Note that the TRC is a Cultural ANBI, which means considerable advantages with respect to your tax returns.

For further details, and various options, we have prepared a simple list with details:

Read more: How to support the TRC


Online catalogue of the TRC collection

Detail of knitting sampler dated AD 1791. TRC 2016.2261

Detail of knitting sampler dated AD 1791. TRC 2016.2261

Work on the online catalogue of the TRC collection is getting well on the way. Perhaps you should have a look. Click here. For instance, one of the latest acquisitions to the collection is a knitting sampler that is dated AD 1791. The TRC recently obtained it together with a collection of embroideries from Hungary. This knitting sampler may be one of the oldest, and securely dated knitting samplers ever found in Europe. You can see the sampler in our online catalogue, click here.





Embroidery charts

We recently put some embroidery charts online for some unusual and intriguing needlework patterns from the eastern and northern parts of Europe. Int the next few months, we hope to publish more. Please click here for an Hungarian cushion covertwo cross-stitch patterns for ecclesiastical garmentsan Hungarian/Romanian geometric design, a deer design from Eastern Europe, a simple blouse design from Romania, and a rabbits and birds design originally for a beadwork panel, also from Hungary. You can use them as you wish. Enjoy !


The diversity of the TRC collection

Indian batik for a sari

Indian batik for a sari

The TRC collection of textiles, clothing and accessories from around the world was started in 1997 with 43 pieces from Afghanistan, Egypt and Syria. Since then it has grown to over fourteen thousand items (December 2016), which come from very diverse backgrounds with respect to time and place. Some of the items in the collection have been purchased, but the vast majority has been very kindly donated by various institutions and private donors. The collection has no boundaries with respect to geography and time. The collection ranges from Afghan embroidery, German Lederhosen, Indonesian batiks, to delicate silks from Renaissance Italy and spinning and weaving equipment from the Andes. The collection is being built up around four major themes: Pre-Industrial textile technology, including a wide range of spinning and weaving equipment and textiles from around the world; Decorative needlework, with an emphasis on hand embroidery from around the world; Dutch regional dress; North African and Middle Eastern textiles and dress.

All of the pieces in the TRC collection have been catalogued, and are currently being incorporated into the new TRC Digital Collection Database. In the spring of 2016 the first group of items has come on-line and after that the digital database is regularly up-dated with information about the latest acquisitions and information in general. By December 2016, more than half of the collection has been photographed. To give an idea of the range and depth of the collection, below we present a broad outline of some of the most important and intriguing elements of the collection. 

Read more: The diversity of the TRC collection


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Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428

Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment.

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59

Gallery exhibition, 3 April - 29 June: From Kaftan to Kippa

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

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Financial gifts

The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
Financial donations can also be made via Paypal: