TRC Gallery, Leiden; 10 March until 22 August, 2010
The world of Islamic and Arab art is well-known for its beautiful calligraphy, its manuscript miniatures, the exquisite geometric designs on wood, its pottery and silverware, but little has been said until now about another important aspect of Arab culture, namely its embroidery. For hundreds of years, embroidered textiles have decorated homes, public buildings, animals (especially horses), as well as the clothing of men, women and children. Embroidery has played a role in the social and cultural life of communities, as well as reflecting economic and political changes. This is the first time in The Netherlands that an exhibition has been dedicated to the various types of embroidery from the Arab world. On display are over 60 examples of embroidery, from various Arab countries including the Eastern Mediterranean, Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.
The exhibition looks at various styles of embroidery and how this versatile textile technique is used to decorate men and women’s clothing in a wide variety of forms, colours and designs. The role of the French embroidery company of DMC is highlighted as it has influenced Arab embroidery, especially that from the Mediterranean region, for well over 100 years. The oldest embroideries on display are two fragments from children’s tunics, which date from about the 5th century A.D. These rare pieces come from Coptic Egypt. More recent items include an early 20th century dress and velvet jacket from Bethlehem; a late 20th century man’s cloak from the High Atlas mountains of Morocco, Bedouin dresses from the Northern Sinai; wedding dresses from Morocco, the Siwa Oasis (Egypt) and Saudi Arabia, as well as various types of indigo dresses from Yemen. Some of the embroideries on show are made out of silk, others of linen or wool. Some garments on display are decorated with large, abstract and colourful patterns, other examples are small, geometric and very precise. Many garments are further embellished with a wide range of beads, shells, coins and amulets. All objects derive from the collection of the TRC, Leiden.
Address: Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden
Opening times: Monday to Wednesdays from 10.00 until 16.00, other days by appointment only. From March 24-28, during the Leiden Textile Festival, the TRC is open every day.