TRC Blog: Textile Moments

New online textile catalogue

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

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 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 for more information. And don’t forget to look at some of the textiles in the TRC’s on-line collection at 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

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

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

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

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


Some exciting new acquisitions for TRC collection

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

Leila Ingrams, 1940-2015

Leila Ingrams, 1940-2015

Among the recent acquisitions to the TRC Collection are several unusual and interesting groups of objects. These include a small number of Yemeni garments given by the family of Laila Ingrams, who died recently. She was the daughter of Harold and Doreen Ingrams, the famous British writers and explorers of the Arabian Peninsula. The garments include items for both men and women. One of the more intriguing items is a dress from the island of Socotra, which lies to the south of Yemen. The TRC already has a comparable garment, also from Socotra. We are still very puzzled about exactly how these garments were worn, so if you know and/or have photographs could you please let us know at Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ?

In complete contrast, Pepin van Roojen of Pepin Press (Amsterdam) has donated a collection of textiles and garments that include Islamic fashion, Chinese clothes, as well as, yes, cowgirl outfits and garments from the USA. The latter are especially welcome as they will help to build up our North American collection. We are going to create various digital exhibitions about these items.

As part of the Pepin donation there was also a large number of old postcards that are going to be scanned and put online for all to enjoy. These include Dutch costumes as well as many from the Middle East. In addition, there are a number of swatch books (from the USA, France and The Netherlands) as well as hundreds (literally) of textile samples dating to the 20th century, which were the property of an art expert in Paris, who worked with various Parisian fashion houses. Many of these samples are printed and represent typical and atypical textiles from the 20th century European/Western fashion market.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 19 March 2017



“1917: Romanovs and Revolution”

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

Impression of the Hermitage exhibition, "1917: Romanovs and Revolution"

Impression of the Hermitage exhibition, "1917: Romanovs and Revolution"

“1917: Romanovs and Revolution” is the newest exhibition at the Hermitage in Amsterdam. It’s a timely exhibition, marking the centenary of the two revolutions that rocked Russia in 1917. The first revolution began on International Women’s Day (March 8) when women textile workers marched in the streets of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) for an end to food shortages. Within days there was a general strike, and demonstrators were also demanding an end to Russia’s involvement in World War 1. It was this February Revolution which ended the 300-year-long Romanov monarchy.

A visitor learns this and much more from the excellent information texts (in Dutch and English) and the accompanying free audio guide. What is perhaps surprising is the substantial number of textiles on display. This includes a beautiful silk and wool wall hanging; and over a dozen garments worn by Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra (who was a granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria), their five royal children, and other wealthy Russians of the time. Elite fashion was strongly influenced by the Art Nouveau movement, with multiple layers of rich, often semi-transparent fabric in strong colours, decorated with lace, beads and sequins. Hem length aside, many of the evening gowns could be worn on the cat walk today. Wealthy Russians had access to leading French fashion houses, as the green crepe-de-chine and silk atlas summer dress designed by couturier Paul Poiret shows. But the Romanov’s court also wore the creations of Russian designers, such as Anna Gindus’s silk and chiffon evening dress, decorated with glass beads, lace and fur; or the silk dresses on display by Nadezhda Lamanova.

There were several textiles that stood out for me. One was a red, short sleeved evening gown made of gauze, faille and tulle, with a beautiful floral beaded trim and fringe. Many Russians decorated their clothes with traditional peasant motifs during World War I, as a sign of patriotism. The beading reflects this. There is also a white cambric dress from the same period, decorated with Valenciennes lace, elaborate cutwork and English embroidery. Most evocative of all, however, were three day dresses, mostly of pink silk and gauze, worn by three of the Romanov princesses. This was displayed alongside a boy’s velvet military jacket worn by the Tsarevich.

“1917: Romanovs and Revolution” is not a fashion exhibition. But among the glassware, Faberge jewelry, military samovars and cooking pots (also made by Faberge for the war effort, along with hand grenades and artillery shells) are many photographs and prints, which illustrate the clothing worn by both ordinary people and the elite. There is also a collection of 32 porcelain figurines, given to the Tsar as a birthday gift, which show some of Russia’s minority communities (e.g., Mongol, Ainu, Armenians, Kazachs) in traditional dress. There is much to see for anyone interested in dress.

“1917: Romanovs and Revolution” is on until 17 September 2017.

Shelley Anderson, 10 March 2017


Subversive Stitching: The Pussy Hat

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

The TRC has a new acquisition: two pussy hats (TRC 2017.0186 and 0187). Pussy hats are hand-made, square-shaped caps made from wool or acrylic yarn, usually coloured pink. They can be knitted, crocheted or sewn. After Donald Trump won the US presidential election in November 2016, American knitters attempted to make over one million of such hats, to be given as gifts for marchers to wear at the Women’s March in Washington, DC. Patterns for the simple hat were shared via the Pussyhat Project website ( and Facebook; many craft shops hosted groups of knitters making the hats. There were news reports of craft shops in different American cities being sold out of pink yarn. The deadline was 21 January 2017, the day of the Women’s March.

When a pussy hat is worn on the head, two tips appear, similar to a cat’s ears. This is not the origine of the cap’s name, however. The word ‘pussy’ in English is an insulting term for a woman’s genitals. In October 2016, during the presidential election campaign, The Washington Post newspaper released a video and accompanying article on lewd remarks made by Donald Trump about women. Recorded in a television studio parking lot in 2005, Trump told a television host: “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there, and she was married. …I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

The remarks outraged many as condoning sexual assault. Trump was forced to apologize publicly for the remarks. #Pussygrabsback became a popular hashtag; an artist put the words across a picture of a snarling cat’s face and created a popular T-shirt. Knitters Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman of Los Angelos, California (USA) thought of creating a symbol for women’s solidarity and so launched the Pussyhat Project: "It's reappropriating the word 'pussy' in a positive way….Wearing pink together is a powerful statement that we are unapologetically feminine and we unapologetically stand for women’s rights." Their knitting instructor, Kat Coyle, created a pattern that could be easily customized. All three wanted to celebrate the traditionally female work of knitting and crochet: "Knitting circles are sometimes scoffed at as frivolous 'gossiping circles,' when really, these circles are powerful gatherings of women, a safe space to talk, a place where women support women."

By December the group had collected sixty thousand hats, sent to them from all fifty US states—and from Europe and New Zealand. The pussyhat had gone international. So had the Women’s March. Scheduled for 21 January 2017, the day after Trump was inaugurated as US President, the March’s aim was to make a powerful statement for human rights. The organizers hoped two hundred thousand people would show up. Instead, over half a million came. Crowd specialists calculated that the protest march drew three times the number of people Trump’s inauguration had attracted. More than four hundred similar ‘Sister Marches’ took place all over the US, involving an estimated two million people. There were almost 200 further marches in solidarity all over the world, throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, South America. There was a march in Iraq; another one inside a cancer hospital in Los Angeles and yet another on a research ship in Antarctica. Three thousand people gathered in front of the National Museum in Amsterdam for the March and another one thousand in the Hague. Worldwide between three to four million people participated on 21 January. And a good number of them wore pink pussyhats.

The pink woollen hats now in the TRC collection were made by the Rev. Ramona Scarpace on a circle frame. One (TRC 2017.0187) was worn on 21 January 2017 at the Women’s March in St. Paul, Minnesota (USA) by the knitter's partner, the Rev. Georgianna Smith. The official police estimate for the number of participants at this march was ninety thousand people.

23 February 2017. Shelley Anderson


Museum of bags and purses

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

The Tassenmuseum, Amsterdam

The Tassenmuseum, Amsterdam

It’s always fun to sneak a peak inside someone else’s hand bag. Especially when the hand bag belongs to royalty. That is exactly what visitors get to do at the latest exhibit at Amsterdam’s Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassenmuseum). The exhibition “Royal Bags: Bags of European Royal Families” (on until 26 February) displays bags and purses that belonged to Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth I; Empress Sisi of Austria, Princess Grace of Monaco and Queen Elizabeth II.

Sisi had particularly well-stocked travel luggage; Princess Grace’s brown leather bag by Hermes is still produced and known by her last name: the Kelly bag. Queen Elizabeth II famously carries an ingenious little hook which is used to hang her bag from tables. Both these royals’ bags held or hold little except a handkerchief, glasses and lip stick. The Dutch Royal family is not neglected: on display are three handbags personally chosen by Queen Maxima from the former Queen Juliana’s collection. One of them, a golden handbag, has also been carried on different state occasions by Queen Maxima herself.

The display is an interesting statement on the role fashion plays in establishing status and authority. The Museum’s permanent display of bags and purses also makes a visit worthwhile. The Tassenmuseum is only one of three hand bag museums in the world, and the only one of its kind in Europe. Its collection of over 5000 bags and purses is amazing. The permanent display gives the history of the European purse from the 1500’s onwards, from a mediaeval English alms purse to an elegant Chanel hand bag. In its earliest form, mostly worn by men, leather bags with drawstrings were worn from belts to carry objects like coins, gaming pieces, combs or religious relics. The oldest bag in the collection is on display, a goatskin bag with 18 compartments (some of them secret), worn by a 16th century man in France.

By the 17th century pockets began to appear in men’s clothing, so it was women who mostly used bags, to carry money, sewing equipment, keys, combs and writing tablets. One of my favourite objects on display is a rare pair of stocking purses—beautifully embroidered pear-shaped bags (usually of cotton or linen), with strings so they could be tied around the waist. A woman would wear these bags under her skirt, on each hip. There were slits in her skirt to allow access to the bags. I also enjoyed the beautiful nineteenth century beaded bags. In the early nineteenth century these bags were knitted with glass beads (usually from Czech or Bavarian glass factories). Fifty thousand beads had to be strung in the right order before knitting began, so as to produce the right design. No wonder each bag took about two weeks to complete. By the end of the nineteenth century it became cheaper to weave such bags. The bags were still beautiful—and practical, just as today’s bag. The Tassenmuseum’s collection is on-line, with information in both Dutch and English:  

Shelley Anderson, 19 February 2017


A knitted cap from the Fair isle

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

The TRC has recently been given a hand-knitted Fair Isle cap (TRC 2017.0006) for a child, by a good friend of the TRC's, namely Brigitta Schreuder. Her father-in-law used to travel in the 1960s as a guest on merchant ships and went to many places around the world. He would buy a souvenir at each of his ports of call, including the Fair Isle, which is an island that lies off the northern coast of Scotland. It belongs to the Shetland Island group. The island has long been famous for the production of knitted goods, including caps, gloves, jumpers, and so forth, which were originally worn by the fishermen, but became fashion statements in the twentieth century. The cap now in the TRC collection has been examined by Lies van de Wege (TRC volunteer) and she has made a pattern chart that can be used for knitting, embroidery, beadwork, and so forth. So have a look and enjoy!

Here is the original:

Fair Isle knitted cap. TRC 2017.0006

Fair Isle knitted cap. TRC 2017.0006






National Portrait Gallery, London

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

Jane Austen (1775-1817), by Cassandra Austen, c. 1810.

Jane Austen (1775-1817), by Cassandra Austen, c. 1810.

This morning Willem and I spent several house at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), here in London. It was amazing to see so many of the original portraits (and some new ones) again that we had used for entries in TRC Needles - especially the Tudor and Stuart portraits with their blackwork collars, ruffs, embroidered gloves and so forth. We saw for instance the portrait of Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. We also saw a double portrait of Lady Dacre and her son George (c. 1559). The same formidable lady is also portrayed (click here) on a canvas now in the National Portrait Gallery of Canada, made by the Dutch artist Hans Ewouts.

We sneaked a look at the tiny miniature of Jane Austen - it is so delicate. Last summer we visited various places linked to her, as for instance her grave in Winchester Cathedral and the house where she died, but also the places where she walked around, and danced, in Bath (see our blog of 7 August 2016).

It is worth noting that the NPG has a fashion trail by Lucinda Chambers, the Fashion Director of the British Vogue. It is callled "Height of Fashion Trail" and covers 500 years of British fashion in a select number of portraits. It would be fun to do an embroidery and/or lace trail using the NPG Collection!

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 20 January 2017


Brunei Gallery exhibition, London

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

Embroidered prayer mat from Afghanistan

Embroidered prayer mat from Afghanistan

Last night (19th January 2017) Willem and I attended the official opening of a beautiful exhibition about embroidered and woven textiles and garments at the Brunei Gallery (SOAS) in London. The exhibition is called "Embroidered Tales, Woven Dreams" and was curatored by Marian Bukhari. It will be on display until the 25th March 2017. The exhibition includes a wide range of textiles and garments from Afghanistan, Central Asia, the Indian subconintent, as well as the Middle East. The chance to see such a wide range of objects in one location is worth an applause and a visit to the exhibition.

Many of the items on display come from Marian Bukhari's personal collection, as well as several other private collections. The exhibition is designed to show the lives of various groups whose ancestors lived along the famous Silk Road. The stated aim of the exhibition is to tell the story of these people (past and present) and how as their: "embroideries flourished, they became a record of their history, social customs, folk tales and myths as heredity wisdom and skills were passed down from mother to daughter in an attempt to guard their techniques and traditions in textiles."

The exhibition is displayed on three floors of the Brunei Gallery and includes a series of regionally dressed mannequins, a wide range of embroidered textiles (hanging and on panels), paintings, manuscripts, as well as stylised, life-sized cut-outs of camels and oxen (which may sound a little strange but they do add to the atmosphere of the exhibition). There is also a series of tableaus that depict various groups, such as a large 'orange' room with a tableau featuring what appears to be a wedding group. I say what appears to be with a degree of caution because when we were there there were no text boards yet in the exhibition that explain individual groups or objects, which was somewhat disappointing. Text boards with the very general line of "Afghanistan", "Indus" etc, are present, but nothing else.

As noted by Marian Bukhari in her opening speech, she wanted the individal embroideries to speak for the women who made the objects (although in some cases some of the items on display were probably made by men in professional workshops, rather than by women at home). There were also technical problems with the exhibition because of the delay in the arrival of essential display materials and many items that should have been displayed were not presented on the opening night. I understand that next week all the items will be displayed and information about the individal items will be added to all of the pieces as they are not only beautiful and a feast for the eyes, but, as stated by Marian Bukhari, they also have stories behind them and I would dearly love to 'hear' some of these stories as well.

Giliian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 20 January 2017


Opus Anglicanum in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

Willem and I have spent the last few days in London, basically because I was asked to give a lecture to the Oriental Rug and Textile Society of Great Britain about the work of the TRC. This was given in the evening of the 18th January to a full house in the meeting room of an 18th century church in the centre of London. It was fun talking about the TRC: its origins, the wide range of acivities, its ever expanding collection, and the plans for the future. A group from the society will be coming to The Netherlands in March and will be spending some time at the TRC.

Today Willem and I, plus a textile friend, Caroline Stone from Cambridge, spent some time at the Victoria and Albert Museum looking at two very different exhibitions. The first was about Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling, the famous British author of books such as Kim and Jungle Book. Lockwood Kipling visited the Great Exhibition of 1851 and became fascinated with Indian arts and crafts. He moved to India and was involved in the development of a wide range of crafts, especially in the Punjab region of the country. He also helped to establish an art academy in Lahore. Lockwood Kipling was also involved in the British arts and crafts movement, including the design and production of textiles and embroideries. An interesting exhibition about an influencial artist and designer, who has been overshadowed by the work of his son.

The main reason for going to the Museum, however, was to see their Opus Anglicanum exhibition (which finishes on the 5th of February, 2017, so you may need to hurry). This is a wonderful exhibition that takes the visitor through the different types of 'English' gold, silver and silk embroidery that was produced in London and various ecclesiastical centres from about the 12th to the mid-14th century (and the Black Death plague), when many people died, including skilled embroiderers. It has been argued that Opus Anglicanum, and English embroidery in general, never again reached the same standard of metal thread and silk embroidery. Opus Anglicanum was desired, commissioned and used by the medieval courts and churches throughout Europe. It was even regarded as a suitable gift for various popes, hence so many pieces being preserved and housed in European ecclesiastical collections.

The London exhibition has many famous examples of Opus Anglicanum on display, including the Syon Cope, the Toledo cope, and the Vatican cope, but also various chasubles (including the Clare chasuble), and dalmatics, as well as a beautiful little figure of a knight from Stonyhurst College that dates to early 14th century. There are also a number of orphreys, burses, and panels in general. But also the 'achievements' of the Black Prince (see the TRC Needles entry)!

Attention is also paid in the exhibition to the professional embroiderers (men and women) and the tools that they used (based on archaeological finds from various quarters of medieval London). The methods of working are also explained by various videos, which are extremly helpful. The chance to see so many pieces of Opus Anglicanum in one place is truely amazing and thanks to the help of various museums throughout the world the exhibition provides a rare insight into this brilliant (literally) form of embroidery.

The exhibition is accompanied by a superbly executed catalogue with magnificent photographs. It is entitled: English Medieval Embroidery. Opus Anglicanum. It is edited by Clare Browne, Glyn Davies and M.A. Michael. It is published by Yale University Press, in associated with the Victoria and Albert Museum. Year of publication: 2016.

The exhibition was presented in collaboration with the London firm of Hand & Lock, an embroidery company that specialises in metal thread embroidery. We actually went to see them yesterday to discuss their celebratory programme for this year. The firm will be celebrating its 250th anniversary in the summer of 2017. More details about their work and celebrations can be found at the Hand and Lock website

After our visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Willem and I walked back to our hotel via Liberty's of London, the famous shop just off Regent Street, which dates back to the late 19th century. Their textile department is well worth a visit (if you like the Liberty style of course!). Tonight we are going to the opening of an exhibition called 'Embroidered Tales and Woven Dreams' at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London. More details about this exhibition will be given in our next blog.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 19 January 2017



Castel Gandolfo

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

Papal slippers, on display in the museum of the Apostolic Palace, Castel Gandolfo.

Papal slippers, on display in the museum of the Apostolic Palace, Castel Gandolfo.

Today Gillian and I had the chance to go to Castel Gandolfo, the summer retreat of the popes, just outside of Rome. Well, the new pope, Franciscus, has to date declined the honour of going there for the summer. Instead he prefers to stay in the Vatican, since, as he allegedly said, many other Romans do not have a summer retreat either. But Franciscus is still very much present in the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo: a large portrait of his hangs next to that of his immediate predecessors, and what a difference! It may have been the painter(s), but next to that of Benedictus XVI, looking stern and, forgive me, very German, and that of John-Paul II looking benign but dressed in full, traditional, papal regalia, it is Franciscus who looks simple and positively sympathetic, with friendly eyes following you, and being dressed in basic attire (including normal lace-up shoes, rather than the silk, pontifical slippers worn by his predecesssors).

But that was not all at Castel Gandolfo. The museum downstairs houses a plethora of papal vestments, and also the elaborate garments (military, diplomatic, etc) worn by the men (!) in his immediate surroundings. Some of them very military in style. The embroidery on some of the garments and other textiles, often worked with gold thread, was absolutely stunning. Finally, when in the Villa d'Este a few days ago we were struck by the imitation tapestries having (quickly) been painted onto almost all of the walls, at Castel Gandolfo we saw many 'real' tapestries, and fragments of tapestries that had been framed and hung from the wall. Alas there were no books or further information about the palace, textiles or more particularly the embroideries, but perhaps that will be organised in the future. Well worth seeing for anyone visiting Rome. The vast gardens are also worth a visit. There is a special trip through the huge gardens in a little white train that takes about one hour.

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 31 December 2016


Imitation tapestries in the Villa d'Este near Rome, Italy

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

Fresco, or imitation tapestry, showing a hunting scene, in the Villa d'Este, Italy, late sixteenth century.

Fresco, or imitation tapestry, showing a hunting scene, in the Villa d'Este, Italy, late sixteenth century.

Two days ago Gillian and I spent a glorious Boxing Day at the Villa Hadriani and the Villa d'Este, both located some kilometres east of Rome. The Villa d'Este is particularly known for its gardens and many (some five hundred) fountains. The buildings and gardens all date to the second half of the sixteenth century; a curious twist of history is the fact that the architect of the Villa and its gardens used the ruins of the Villa Hadriani for inspiration, and for cheap building materials. Cheap? Well, not all of it. The costly coloured marble used by the Romans was equally costly, if not more so, in the sixteenth century. Admittedly, it was more or less free for grabs. The gardens are indeed spectacular.

But what struck us most inside the house were the frescoes. All the rooms, and there are many of them, are decorated with beautiful paintings of hunting scenes, mythological and legendary events, etc. These all the more underlined their use as a relatively cheap replacement for costly tapestries. Many of the frescoes in the House were clearly painted in imitation of tapestries, together with folded and draped edges, tassels, etc. It is evident that there is a close link between the cartoons used for the tapestries and those used for the frescoes at the Villa d'Este (and probably also elsewhere).

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 28 December 2016


Borduurwerk in Nepal, I

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

Een bijdrage van Esmeralda Zee, ‘ vriend’ van het TRC. Zij verblijft een aantal weken in Nepal. Hier volgt haar eerste verslag.

Vlak voordat we uit Nederland vertrokken kreeg ik van Gillian Vogelsang, directeur TRC, het verzoek om wat achtergrondinformatie te verzamelen over borduurwerk in Nepal. Dus toen wij in de Nepalese hoofdstad Kathmandu aankwamen keek ik met ‘borduur-ogen’ om mij heen. Op de eerste dag gingen wij naar de beroemde Swayanbunath tempel. Onderweg liepen we langs een smal pad, waar allemaal kleine, overdekte marktkraampjes stonden, die allerlei kettingen, sieraden, beeldjes en toeristensnuisterijen verkochten. Tot mijn grote verrassing, en kijkend met mijn ‘borduurogen’, was er ook een kraampje waar een 63- jarige man, Ram Chandra geheten, op een borduurraam aan het borduren was. Het bleek een speciale Indiase borduurtechniek te zijn, waarbij je met een speciale naald kleine lusjes vlak naast elkaar door de dunne, katoenen stof heen duwt. Die lusjes worden dan later met een scherpe platte schaar tegelijk afgeknipt, zodat er een soort fluweelachtig effect ontstaat. Door ook nog de lengte van de afgeknipte lusjes te variëren ontstaat er een reliëf. De afbeeldingen bestonden uit religieuze onderwerpen, zoals de god van de wijsheid, Ganesha met een olifantenhoofd en de zoon van Vishnu.

Ram Chandra had de techniek indertijd van zijn vader geleerd en nu hij met pensioen was vond het het een goede tijdsbesteding. Hij verkocht ook papieren patronen, losse speciale borduurnaalden, losse gekleurde kluwen zijde en grote houten, ronde borduurramen. Zijn zoon had er geen belangstelling voor en verdiende op een voor hem gemakkelijker manier geld, namelijk in de meubelhandel. Ik maakte een aantal foto’s en video-opnames, kocht zijn eigen borduurraam met een onafgemaakt patroon van een pauw (lang leven), een aantal borduurnaalden, patronen en kluwen zijde, een Ganesha- én pauwen-afbeelding en prijsde mijzelf buitengewoon gelukkig dat ik al de eerste dag zoveel succes geboekt had in het onderzoek. Toen ik na het weekeinde terugkwam om hem nog wat te vragen, had hij intussen al zijn borduurramen en veel kluwen van zijde en patronen verkocht en was bezig de aan mij verkochte Ganesha-afbeelding opnieuw te borduren…….. Dus er bleek hier nog belangstelling voor te zijn!

Toen we twee dagen later de enorme Bodanath stoepa bezochten, in het oosten van Kathmandu, zag ik in een van de talloze toeristenwinkeltjes die rondom de stoepa staan, machinaal geborduurde artikelen, zoals beursjes, tasjes, tot en met grote reistassen toe, geborduurd op synthetisch suède. Deze Kashmir-achtige techniek, bestaande uit patronen in fijne kettingsteek, wordt door mannen op een trapmachine geborduurd in een dorpje vlakbij Kirtipur, twee uur met de auto ten oosten van Kathmandu. Helaas wilde men mij niet de naam van het dorpje vertellen, waarschijnlijk bang dat ik zakelijke exportbedoelingen had…..

In Thamel, dé toeristenwijk van Kathmandu, bestaande uit smalle straatjes met aaneengeregen winkeltjes voor toeristen, reisbureautjes, exportbedrijfjes, hotelletjes en eethuisjes, ontdekte ik nog kledingwinkels die in kettingsteek, machinaal- én handgeborduurde sjaals, jurken en jasjes verkochten, geïmporteerd uit de Indiase provincie Kashmir, in felle kleuren en met grote bloemmotieven. De kwaliteit verschilde enorm. Sommige jurken waren karig geborduurd en andere overdadig. Helaas waren de jurken vaak kuit- tot enkellang. De prijzen van de jasjurken varieerden van 80 tot 800 euro, afhankelijk van stofkwaliteit en fijnheid, en de kwaliteit van het borduursel.

Esmeralda Zee, 16 december 2016


Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

Linen garment, ascribed to St. Jerome (d. 420), with lampas weave decoration in the shape of a cross, housed in the Museum of the Basilica of St. Maria Maggiore, Rome.

Linen garment, ascribed to St. Jerome (d. 420), with lampas weave decoration in the shape of a cross, housed in the Museum of the Basilica of St. Maria Maggiore, Rome.

Yesterday afternoon, Gillian and I, just arrived in Rome, went to see the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. This time we had the chance to see the beautiful thirteenth century mosaics in the loggia above the entrance, and Bernini's floating, spiral staircase. What an extraordinary construction! Most interesting, from our point of view, was the Museum, which we had never had the chance to visit during our previous trips to Rome. It is located underneath the basilica, and you actually have to go outside to go down into the entrance hallway. What a magnificent collection of items, including some stunningly beautiful ecclesiastical vestments. But also a simple garment ascribed to St Jerome (who died in AD 420), the man who allegedly translated the Bible into Latin (the Vulgata text). He also happens to be buried in the same church. It is a simple linen vestment, but decorated with a cross applied to the chest and made of two small bands of very expensive (certainly in the fifth century) silk lampas weave. We also saw a reliquary with textiles and presumably remains attributed to Thomas Beckett (assassinated in Canterbury in 1170). And then the many chasubles, copes, stolas, etc., many of them exquisitely decorated with gold thread embroidery. These ranged in date from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. There was even a pontifical outfit dating to the nineteenth century.

We bought a little booklet with the title Guide to the Museum of the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major, written by Monsignor Michal Jagosz (2003).

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 25 December 2016


Another Marken design, from 1895

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

There is another chart of a Marken design (click here), further to the two that we published yesterday. This one has been worked on the front of a bodice (locally known as a kraplap), with a design of a stylised tree with birds. The bodice forms part of the TRC collection (TRC 2016.0437g) and was acquired in 2016 (Kircher collection). The date (1895) is added on both sides of the stem, and the initials are placed underneath. The embroidery is carried out in cross stitch using a black silk thread. Unusually, the ground material has a complex woven design, which must have made it difficult to embroider.

Embroidered bodice (kraplap) from the island of Marken, the Netherlands, dated 1895.

Embroidered bodice (kraplap) from the island of Marken, the Netherlands, dated 1895.



Embroidery charts for Marken curtain design

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

The two attached charts are based on designs from two curtains that originate from the fishing village of Marken in northern Holland. The curtains date to the late nineteenth century. They were made from hand woven linen cloth (even weave), and embroidered using a slightly twisted dark brown silk thread. The designs were worked in cross stitch and Holbein (double running) stitch. One design (click here) represents a pair of girls holding birds, and they are standing on either side of a tree (TRC 2016.1379). The pattern is a very old form and illustrates a tree of life motif. The second pattern (click here) is a stylised bunch of flowers (TRC 2016.1378). The two curtains were donated to the TRC by Mrs. M. Kircher in April 2016 and form part of an extensive collection of European embroideries.

Design of girls and birds from the island of Marken, the Netherlands

Design of girls and birds from the island of Marken, the Netherlands










Flower design from the island of Marken, the Netherlands

Flower design from the island of Marken, the Netherlands








Queens of the Nile

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

Prof. Olaf Kaper, guest curator the exhibition Queens of the Nile, and board member of the TRC.

Prof. Olaf Kaper, guest curator the exhibition Queens of the Nile, and board member of the TRC.

I enjoy exhibits where both the achievements and the foibles of people come through. And despite thousands of years, it is the ancient Egyptians’ humanity that comes across in the exhibition “Queens of the Nile” at the National Antiquities Museum (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) in Leiden (the Netherlands), running now until 17 April 2017. There are some 350 objects on display that chart the lives of Great Royal Wives, such as Ahmose Nefertari, Nefertiti, Hatshepsut and Nefertari.

A Pharaoh had many wives. This was a potential source of serious trouble, as the long papyrus scroll on display, detailing a harem conspiracy instigated by Tiye against Ramses III shows. But there was only one Great Royal Wife, who was likened in power to the goddesses Hathor and Sekmet (the latter has two stunning, lion-headed statues in the exhibit). Ahmose Nefertari, who controlled temple administration, was indeed worshipped as a goddess by the artisans who worked in the Valley of the Kings. There is a replica of the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti, who helped make a religious revolution in ancient Egypt. I personally enjoyed the granite statue of Hatshepsut. While she wears the kingly nemes-headdress, she also wears a woman’s dress. What she doesn’t wear is the usual false beard, which she used to indicate her status as a king.

And there is a reconstruction of the tomb, in the Valley of the Queens, of Queen Nefertari (not to be confused with the earlier Ahmose Nefertari). This tomb has beautiful wall paintings. In one of these, the Queen is shown bearing a tray with four forked symbols (hieroglyphs for ‘textiles’) in front of the god Ptah. Textiles played an important role in the rituals for resurrection, from actual mummy wrappings to symbolic offerings. The TRC made an exact replica of the linen garments Queen Nefertari would have worn in life (see more here). It is a display like this that makes these women come alive. These garments, and a small wooden statuette of a young girl, named Nefertemau, were the most poignant for me. Nefertemau died still a child. Her mother commissioned the statuette for her dead daughter in order to ‘make her name live.’

When you visit the exhibit, be sure to see the Museum’s new re-opened Egyptian wing. It does feel more spacious than before. The largest room contains statues. Every fold or plait in the image is clearly carved, from the stiff kilts of the men to the ankle-length dresses of the women. In the next room are some real treasures—a large display case with beautifully woven (and perhaps embroidered?) fragments of Coptic textiles. Go to the back of the display case and open the drawers. Inside are some exquisite fragments of approximately two dozen Coptic textiles. The colours (red, blue, orange and brown) still glow, and the designs of people, plants, and animals are lovely. The human figures include the chubby, slightly lop-sided figures that characterize Coptic art. I am guessing, based on Coptic textiles in the TRC collection, that these are wool on linen, from the 3rd to 6th centuries CE. I guess because, strangely, there was no information given at all about these exquisite pieces. A TRC colleague did write to the Museum about this and got a prompt reply that information texts were still being prepared and will be put up soon.

Shelley Anderson, Tuesday 13th December 2016



Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

“A World of Feathers” is the latest exhibition at the Ethnographic Museum (Museum Volkenkunde) in Leiden (the Netherlands, click here), which runs until 5 March 2017. It showcases an impressive collection, mostly of headwear, but also capes and haute couture gowns and scarves. One room is devoted to an amazing variety of birds whose feathers are used, from pheasants (think Queen Maxima’s stylish hats), eagles and owls (North American medicine men’s healing sticks and war leaders bonnets), to peacocks and the lowly chicken, whose dyed feathers trim an Aztec-inspired Mexican concheros dancer’s skirt.

The variety of feathers is enormous, as are the contexts the garments are used in. Whether it’s a chic Parisian wedding or a boy’s initiation rite in New Guinea, feathers are used to decorate and distinguish the human body, to show status and identity. As such, they can also be political: indigenous activists in the Amazon are now wearing traditional feathered headdresses to show pride in their roots—and to make a statement about protecting their land against deforestation. There is a short video with a Cherokee scholar, Dr. Adrienne Keene of Brown University (USA), who explains why many Native Americans are offended when non-Indians wear war bonnets at football games or in fashion shows.

The exhibition uses many excellent short videos to go deeper into the theme. My favorites included an interview with a Hawaiian woman who makes traditional leis (garlands) from thousands of small feathers. And an interview with an employee at Maison Lemariè, the only remaining plumassier in Paris. There, over 1000 ostrich feathers were being added, by hand, to a gown. It can take over 200 hours to steam (a process which adds sparkle) and apply feathers to a single dress. But it is the objects themselves which evoke interest. There is a seal skin and eider down cap from Greenland. A head dress made from plastic drinking straws, to replace a ritual feathered head dress that was destroyed, in Brazil. Also on display is a coil of up to 60000 red cardinal feathers, from the Solomon Islands. This is called tevau, and such coils were used as money up to the 1980s.

Last but definitely not least, there is a feathered cloak from the Chancay culture, excavated from a coastal grave in Peru, from circa 1100 to 1450. The feathers were collected from Amazonian birds, hundreds of miles and over the Andes mountains away. Fortunately anyone who wants to see this worthwhile exhibition doesn’t have to travel that far.

Shelley Anderson, 10 December 2016


Two days, and hundreds of veils

Er zijn geen vertalingen beschikbaar.

One of the participants of the Veils and Veiling workshop on 4-5 November, wrote to us with the following brief account:

Over a two-day span a small group came together at the TRC to listen and learn about veils with the TRC director, Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood. The workshop in early November was called Veils and Veiling and the premise was to understand the notion of veiling from various perspectives. We looked at the history and variety of veils from northern Africa to Central Asia. We were able to touch and try-on all the versions of veils that covered the head and torso, specifically focusing on the face veil.

The participants in the group were diverse mix ranging from students to instructors from as far as Japan and the United States. Each member of the small group brought their own curiosity and insight on the subject, asking questions and sharing ideas in a very casual and organic manner. Over the course of the two days, as the Leiden rain drizzled outside, we were absorbed in the samples Dr. Vogelsang presented to us. The hours flew by as she told of the cultural significance and the context the garments were worn in. Her captivating stories of princesses and nomads whisked us through centuries and danced us across the globe. Over tea and coffee, we reflected on and discussed how our perceptions had changed since the start of the workshop. Being able to try on the countless garments and to ask questions about the construction and the function of the pieces were thoroughly beneficial. The Centre is an invaluable resource that must be venerated for the scale of its collections as well as the wealth of knowledge its director brings to the community. Truly, an enriching two days. Best, Hawa

Hawa Stwodah, USA, 14 November 2016


Pagina 7 van 13


Financial donations to the TRC can be made via Paypal; Donaties aan de TRC kunnen worden overgemaakt via Paypal:

TRC in een notendop

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

Openingstijden: Maandag tot/met donderdag, van 10.00 tot 16.00 uur. Andere dagen alleen volgens afspraak.

Bankrekening: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59

Toegang gratis, maar een vrijwillige bijdrage is zeer welkom.

TRC Gallery tentoonstelling, 22 jan. - 27 juni 2019: Fijn fluweel!

facebook 2015 logo detail



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. Stichting Textile Research Centre. 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: