TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Stadskanaal kerchief, continued

The plot thickens. Last week we told you about a commemorative kerchief from Stadskanaal, a small town in the northeast of The Netherlands. We added that the kerchief included the embroidered signatures of some twenty-five names, plus references to the town of Stadskanaal, the name of 'Ons Belang', and two dates in the year 1945. This week we have received really interesting information from various sides.

As a result the story has unexpectedly taken a new twist. As pointed out to us (Deandra de Looff, many thanks!), the name of 'Ons Belang' was not only that of the local straw board factory, but also that of a temporary internment camp for men and women arrested for collaboration with the Germans. In fact, the camp was 'opened' on 7th May, some three weeks after the liberation of the area, and remained in use well into 1946. The camp was located on the premises of the straw carton factory, 'Ons Belang', hence of course the name of the camp. The initials J.K. that were embroidered on the kerchief, as we initially read them, could in fact also be read as I.K., for 'Internerings Kamp', as Deandra de Looff suggested. Furthermore, the embroidered names, as suggested by another correspondent, are not local, and likely represent people from outside Stadskanaal (thank you, Jacco Pranger).

The dates on the kerchief, which could be read as 17 May 1945 and 5 September 1945, may have been of great importance to the camp, the internees or their guards.

We will continue this intriguing piece of research, based on a simple handkerchief given to us by the owner of a local Leiden curio shop. It may well reflect a darker and hidden aspect of Dutch post-war history. We will keep you posted.

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 12 April 2015

   

Commemorative kerchief from Stadskanaal, May 1945

Saturday, 4th April 2015: While visiting a curio shop in Leiden, we were looking at some old textiles, including part of a mid-19th century Cashmire style shawl. But among the various textile items there was also an embroidered kerchief worked in a red and beige cotton thread. It is an example of a commemorative embroidery, albeit on a small scale. The embroidery includes a central text that reads Stadskanaal J.K. 17-5-1945 Ons Belang 5-9-45. Surrounding it are numerous signatures.

Embroidered kerchief, internment camp, 1945. TRC Collection

Embroidered kerchief, internment camp, 1945. TRC Collection

Stadskanaal is a town in the province of Groningen in the northeast of the Netherlands. Ons Belang ('Our interest') was the name of a company producing straw-board.  It was opened in 1910, one of numerous socialist co-operatives that were established in the early 20th century in the Netherlands. The date on the embroidery is no doubt of particular importance: the nearby major town of Groningen was liberated from the Germans by mainly Canadian troops in mid-April 1945.

Ons Belang changed its name several times in the 1960s and 1970s and in 1978 the company was closed down. If you have any information about the people, company or what happened on the 17 May 1945 at the company please let us know.

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 4 April 2015

 

   

Afghan woman with iron underwear

Perhaps I am becoming a bit of a fetishist, but after my blog of last week about some Afghan young men wearing a burqa to protest against the suppression of women's liberties in Afghanistan, there is another media report that drew my attention, again from Kabul. This time it is an Afghan performance artist, the 27-year old Kubra Khademi, who for eight (!) minutes walked the streets of Kabul wearing a kind of suit of armour over her normal clothing, with large metal breasts and buttocks, to protest against, as it is reported, the endemic harassment she and other Afghan women have to endure when they go out into the streets. A brave gesture, since she had to go into hiding after her performance. Yet, she told the reporter that there was one young boy, about ten years old, that got the message: "Look at that girl: she does not want to be touched."

Willem Vogelsang, 12 March 2015

   

Kimono exhibition in the SieboldHuis, Leiden

Back of a Japanese kimono created by Itchiku Kubota, on display in the SieboldHuis, Leiden, The Netherlands

Back of a Japanese kimono created by Itchiku Kubota, on display in the SieboldHuis, Leiden, The Netherlands

Last night a friend and I went to the opening of a new exhibition, called Zijden Pracht (‘Silk Splendour’) at the Japanmuseum SieboldHuis, Rapenburg 19, Leiden, The Netherlands. The kimomos on display come from the Kubota Collection, Japan. The exhibition is curated by Linda Hanssen.

The exhibition focuses on the hand dyed kimonos made by the Japanese master textile dyer, Itchiku Kubota (1917-2003). Some of the kimonos took forty dye baths, 300 colours and up to a year to be created. The garments can be viewed (and worn) as individual items, but some of them were made and decorated as part of a series ('winter', 'autumn', 'universe') and can thus be placed next to each other to create a scroll-like painting, with the design moving from one kimono to the next. The attention to detail, in the main design, background patterns, and the overall effect, is truly amazing. These are the work of someone who has not just mastered his craft, but has shown to be a true genius.

There are sixteen kimonos on display and they are truly unbelievable. If you have the chance to see the garments then it becomes much easier to understand the intense amount of work involved in creating just one of these kimonos, let alone the various series. And it will leave you reeling.

The exhibition will be on display until the 31st May 2015, and if you are in Leiden then this is a MUST for anyone who loves textiles. It is not often you get a chance to see such works of art (literally) and these kimonos are simply and utterly stunning items.

Gillian Vogelsang, 7 March 2015

   

Men in burqa

We are so used to seeing Afghan women being clad in the all-enveloping burqas, or chadaris, that the garment has almost become an icon of Afghan society. Now I just came across a news report from Kabul about some young Afghan men donning the burqa. I quote a message from TOLOnews.com, by Tariq Majidi, published yesterday, 5 March: 

For the first time, more than 10 male civil society activists took to the streets of Kabul City on Thursday wearing burqas in protest of violence against women. The men sporting burqas began their protest in Pul-e-Surkh area of Kabul ending their march near the Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC), walking over 200 meters protesting against the harassment and violence the women of the country face on a daily a basis. "I walked the streets today in a burqa to understand how my sisters and mothers face violence from men on a daily basis," a protestor said. "I wanted to understand the situation." Several spectators ridiculed the men protesting, while others supported the movement. "I was sitting inside a restaurant eating breakfast when I saw the men marching down the streets in their burqas," Maisam, Kabul resident, said. "I lost it and couldn't stop laughing. Men should not being doing this." Fifty year old Haji Haider, a resident of Kabul, said this move made by the men spoke volumes. "This is the first that I'm witnessing such a protest," Haider said. "This is a very good move. It's a step forward in favor of the women." The men have filed complaints and cases to the IHRC and the government to resolve the increasing harassment and violence against women. This comes after a female wore an iron clad vest illustrating the curves of the female body on the streets of Kabul in protest of sexual harassment of females.

Willem Vogelsang, 6 March 2015

   

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