TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Castel Gandolfo

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

   

Feathers

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“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

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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

   

Hungarian embroideries, a knitting sampler from AD 1791, and an embroidery chart of an Hungarian cushion cover

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Hungarian cushion cover, TRC 2016.2246. Click on photograph for PDF-file.

Hungarian cushion cover, TRC 2016.2246. Click on photograph for PDF-file.

A few months ago the TRC announced that it had the chance to acquire a small collection of Hungarian textiles, mainly embroideries. Thanks to the help of various people the items arrived at the TRC last week and we have been busy photographing and cataloguing them (they are now all online in the TRC Collection, nos. TRC 2016.2237 to 2016.2261).

The textiles include a variety of different embroidery techniques and designs. Over the next few weeks we will be putting various charts online via the TRC Blog. In fact, the first of these Hungarian designs (TRC 2016.2246) is now available (click image) and consists of an eight-pointed star set within a diamond-shaped trellis work. It is worked on an even weave cotton material using a mid-blue stranded cotton thread. The design is worked in cross stitch. The pattern comes from a cushion cover that dates to the latter half of the twentieth century.

Knitting sampler dated AD 1791, TRC 2016.2261

Knitting sampler dated AD 1791, TRC 2016.2261

Among the Hungarian objects was something we had not expected. We knew the new acquisitions included a knitting sampler (TRC 2016.2261) and we had presumed it was early twentieth century in origin. On closer inspection, however, we found that there was a date, namely 1791, which would make it one of the earliest known dated knitting samplers from Europe. It takes the form of a narrow band sampler and is knitted using a linen thread. The top half of the sampler follows a classic needlework sampler format, namely it has various initials, a date, the alphabet, followed by 0-10 in numbers. The rest of the sampler is divided into two vertical rows with numerous lacy knitting patterns. We are now looking for someone who would be willing to translate these patterns into charts so that they can be published online for everyone to enjoy!

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 12 November 2016

   

Two cross-stitch patterns for ecclesiastical garments

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Tunic and stola with embroidery, TRC collection.

Tunic and stola with embroidery, TRC collection.

As part of the huge Kircher collection of European regional dress aand textiles, we also received two particular ecclesiastical garments with embroideries. We are not exactly sure where these two come from, but they are a stola (click here) and a short tunic with wide sleeves (click here). The garments smelt of incense when we unpacked them (and still do!). The embroidery is worked in a dull red cotton perlé using a simple cross stitch. There are two similar, but not identical, designs, which makes us wonder if these two garments were originally meant to be worn together or not. The stola design is the simpler of the two.

Gillian Vogelsang-Estwood, 11 November 2016

 

 

   

Veils and veiling workshop, 4-5 November

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Burqa faceveil from the southern Sinai. TRC 2004.0066.

Burqa faceveil from the southern Sinai. TRC 2004.0066.

A two-day Veils and Veiling Workshop was held at the TRC on 4-5 November. It was a great pleasure to give as well as, for me, being instructive, thanks to the range and depth of the questions raised by the participants. The workshop was a mixture of practical and theoretical details concerning the history, use and social/cultural contexts of head, body and face veils of many different types and groups. The meaning of the head and its symbolic use for power was discussed in detail, but one of the questions was not easy to answer and needs further thought - what is the symbolic meaning of the nose!

Attention was paid to what was the difference between the main types of face veils - batullah, burqa, niqab, qina, etc., how they differ with respect to materials, construction and decoration, and whether this was a religious, social and/or economic indicator(s). We also looked at the various types of veils to be found in North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, the Iranian world, as well as Central Asia and the northern Indian subcontinent. There was the opportunity to try on various forms from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, as well as Afghanistan. The various forms of burqa and chadari associated with Afghanistan and Pakistan were discussed and then tried on, as it is so important to understand something of how it feels to wear these garments, rather than seeing them as abstract items in a photograph.

And this is one of the strengths of the TRC's ever growing collection and workshops - the chance to see, feel and discuss actual examples.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 10 November 2016

   

Japanese Noh Theatre garments

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Nuihaku met maanbloemen en takkenbossen, Japan, 1700-1800, collectie Okura Museum of Art

Nuihaku met maanbloemen en takkenbossen, Japan, 1700-1800, collectie Okura Museum of Art

Refinement and elegance are two words that come to mind when I think of Japanese textiles. A small exhibition now on display in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum highlight this point. Kimonos from the Okura Collection (running from now until 13 December 2016 in the Museum’s Asian Art department) features seven 18th to 19th century kimonos used as costumes in Noh theatre.

This type of theatre began in Japan in the 14th century and continues until today. It is very stylized, with stock characters, and combines song, dance and music. It was popular with the Japanese aristocracy. The colours and quality of the costumes (and masks, some examples of which are also on display) helped with characterization. Costumes became more luxurious, decorated in gold and silver leaf, over the centuries, reflecting more elite clothing as the rich flocked to Noh theatre.

On display, for example, is a kariginu, an outer garment worn by noblemen when they were hunting. It is fastened on the side with a thick multi-coloured cord. This cord, which also appears on the sleeve openings, looked to me like kumihimo, a Japanese braiding technique. (There are numerous YouTube tutorials on kumihimo, see here). This garment, like all of the textiles on display, is made of silk, and decorated with gold leaf. Another garment, used to represent an aristocratic woman in Noh theatre, is a 19th-century karaori. This silk costume is beautifully decorated in gold thread with good luck symbols, such as red poppies and mythological birds.

Karaori means ‘Chinese style textile’ and originally referred to a type of richly-decorated fabric (silk, often in a twill weave) that looked embroidered, but was in fact woven. This technique first appeared around the end of the 14th century in Japan. Similarly, another kimono (weft-dyed, 18th century, green silk) on display looks to be decorated with lovely blocks of patchwork, but is woven. It was fashionable in the 15th century to re-use old brocade for patchwork in kimonos—until weavers learned to imitate the look.

One stunning textile, at least, appeared to be designed specifically for the theatre. This is a hangiri, a sort of pants suit. It has a deep red colour with two large dragons in gold brocade. Also on display is a choken, an unlined outer garment of silk gauze, decorated in a purple wisteria and gold fan motif, which much have looked beautiful when danced in. Last but not least there are two nuihaku, kimonos worn by younger actresses. One is an 18th century silk damask embroidered with moonflowers and red brushwood, a literary reference to the classical Japanese novel Tale of Genji. This textile is considered the highlight of the exhibit. I found all of the textiles very beautiful. The only disappointment was the fact that not more costumes were on display.

Shelley Anderson, 8 November 2016

   

Presidential T-shirts

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Small display of T-shirts with political slogans for US presidential elections. October/November 2016, TRC, Leiden.

Small display of T-shirts with political slogans for US presidential elections. October/November 2016, TRC, Leiden.

November 8 is Election Day in the US, when a new President and Vice-President will be elected. To mark the occasion the TRC has mounted a small exhibition of T-shirts that promote or mock different candidates from America’s two major political parties, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The nine T-shirts on display are typical examples of American political textiles. They portray the candidate’s face and a slogan. This slogan either casts the candidate as a responsible leader or as a foolish incompetent.

Slogans from successful past presidential campaigns might also be evoked, such as the “Give ‘em hell, Harry!” T-shirt (cotton/polyester, Honduras, 2016) on display. This was the 1948 campaign slogan of President Harry Truman. The donkey on the T-shirt is a symbol of the Democratic Party, and so shows the wearer’s affiliation to the party.

Lees meer: Presidential T-shirts

   

About the TRC Intensive Textile Course, Johannes Vermeer and St. Clare

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The Straatje van Vermeer (1632-1675). Courtesy Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, acc. no. SK-A-2860.

The Straatje van Vermeer (1632-1675). Courtesy Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, acc. no. SK-A-2860.

The last week has been very busy for various reasons. We have been running, for example, the October Intensive Textile Course. There were eight participants (the maximum we accept for each course), including colleagues from the London Museum, the Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia) and Yale University (USA), as well some American and Dutch lovers of textiles. The week went very quickly as we studied, investigated and discussed a range of practical subjects (fibre identification, spinning, dyeing, weaving, etc.), as well as looking at a wide range of textiles from Europe, India and Indonesia (and other regions and countries between). Because the current TRC exhibition is about European embroidery, we spent time really looking at the objects on display and discussing how they were made, worn and regarded. The course will be repeated from 13-17 March 2017 (three places left) and again from 10-14 April 2017 and from 16-20 October 2017. For more information, click here.

This week was made more complicated because we had a donation of Dutch urban clothing coming in from a family in Wassenaar. The items included many garments and accessories from the 1910’s to the 1950’s, including a number of 1920’s cloche hats, as well as a range of early 1940’s outfits, shoes and hats. One of the course participants, a specialist in European twentieth century fashion, proved a great help in selecting and identifying the garments !

Beacuse of this and other donations and acquisitions, the nature of the TRC collection has been changing tremendously over the last few months, and we are working hard on getting more and more items on-line (click here) so that people around the world can share this amazing and diverse collection.

We also reached the amazing number of 2200 entries for the digital needlework encyclopaedia, TRC Needles. Click here to have a look at this fascinating collection of brief articles on a wide range of subjects that relate to decorative needlework, from materials, tools, embroidery stitches, to books, films, poems, paintings, samplers, and regional styles from around the world. Read here for instance about the famous 'Straatje van Vermeer' painting, by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), now in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The woman to the right, in the door opening, is probably making bobbin lace! Or would you like to read about St Clare, the patron saint of embroiderers?

And last, but by no means least, the current TRC exhibition about European embroidery is attracting more and more visitors. And, if I may say so myself, it is a beautiful exhibition that will inspire you to find out more about the techniques, designs and history of European decorative needlework.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 22 October 2016

   

Chart of a Swedish reindeer design, 1960's

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Below is a chart of the embroidery design that is derived from the pattern used for a woman's cotton apron from eastern Europe. It includes stylised deer worked in black embroidery thread (cross stitch and Holbein stitch). It dates to the 1960's.​ For a PdF file of the chart, click here.

 

East European deer chart, 1960's

East European deer chart, 1960's

 

Deer design for an East European apron, 1960's.

Deer design for an East European apron, 1960's.

 

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 16 October 2016

   

Embroidery chart of a Romanian geometric design

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As part of a new series of embroidery charts is a pattern that was used for a mid-20th century woman's blouse from Romania. It was worked in cross stitch and chain stitch in light blue and turquoise. The stitches are worked in various directions. The pattern is worked on the sleeves. It is an urban garment embellished with a traditional design. For a PdF file of the chart, click here.

 

Embroidery chart of Romanian woman's blouse.

Embroidery chart of Romanian woman's blouse.

 

Embroidery of Romanian woman's blouse, mid-20th century.

Embroidery of Romanian woman's blouse, mid-20th century.

 

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 16 October 2016

   

Review of the TRC Intensive Textile Course

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Dr Dana Sonnenschein, from New Haven, USA, was one of the participants of the TRC Intensive Textile course in September 2016. She sent the following review:

Last month, as part of the research for my sabbatical project, I traveled to take part in an Intensive Textile Workshop at the Textile Research Centre (TRC) in Leiden, Netherlands. The experience was amazing! Taught by TRC Director Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, the five-day course combined hands-on work in textile production with overviews of global and historical practices and interpretation of historical and contemporary textiles in light of the participants’ (new) knowledge of process and product. Each day involved at least one activity, beginning with a detailed study of a myriad of natural, artificial, and synthetic fibers; moving on to individually carding, combing, and hand-spinning wool; communally dyeing wool and silk using 21 natural dyes and four different mordants and, in the case of cochineal, two different temperatures of dye-bath (to produce a rainbow of some 120 colors); individually weaving a variety of patterns on small table-looms; and, also individually, producing samplers of batik, ikat warp threads, and plangi (tie-dye using Taiwanese techniques, which produce designs I never dreamed of back in grade school when I was rubber-banding flower-power tee shirts).

Marieke Roozeboom, one of the course participants, behind a bobbin lace pillow.

Marieke Roozeboom, one of the course participants, behind a bobbin lace pillow.

I’m not sure what I liked best, the forensics of finding out whether a scrap of fiber was flax or hemp, the pleasure of watching my hands and a simple spindle turn wool into yarn, the slow emergence of a pattern when weaving with a needle, or the adventure of painting a cotton scrap with hot wax. I learned that I will never be a master-dyer—that would take a lifetime—but I’ll always remember that iron “saddens” the color. And now I understand the basics of most of the processes involved in producing fabric and clothing, from prehistory through the present, knowledge that will inform future poems as well as my creative work with fiber. An historian or archeologist could use such skills to add an experimental component to her or his research, as Grace Mary Crowfoot did when she established that certain ancient Egyptian textiles were produced by the kind of loom still used by early twentieth-century Bedouins.

Each day of the Intensive Course also involved mini-lectures giving the “theory” of what we’d been practicing, followed by discussion of exemplary textiles, which Dr. Vogelsang-Eastwood guided so that participants learned to read/interpret everything, from pieces of cloth to garments from specific places and for particular purposes (for example, a symbolic sari, inexpensive and intended for purchase by a poor person as a temple offering vs. an expensive and carefully hand-printed sari, enormously valuable to its original owner but fallen in price/worth as soon as it became second-hand). As those examples suggest, understanding textiles is a way of understanding identity and culture (and vice versa). To truly read anything that came into one’s hands, one would need to study not only the object but when and where it came from. Fortunately, the TRC houses many stories as well as boxes and boxes of textiles. And, unlike most curated collections, which focus only on display, the TRC emphasizes research, so almost all its treasures may, with care, be handled.

Lees meer: Review of the TRC Intensive Textile Course

   

Unieke 3-oktober gift voor TRC

Moniek van Sandick overhandigt een kostuum van de 3 Oktober Vereeniging aan Gillian Vogelsang, directeur TRC.

Moniek van Sandick overhandigt een kostuum van de 3 Oktober Vereeniging aan Gillian Vogelsang, directeur TRC.

Afgelopen donderdag kreeg het TRC bezoek van Moniek van Sandick, een van de eerste vrijwilligsters van de TRC en nu gemeenteraadslid in de gemeente Leiden. Maar Moniek is ook lid van de 3 October Vereeniging, dat roemruchte orgaan dat sinds 1886 elk jaar leiding geeft aan de festiviteiten in Leiden die de bevrijding vieren van de stad, nu al weer 442 jaar geleden, om precies te zijn op 3 oktober 1574. Op die dag ontdekten de Leidenaren dat het Spaanse leger, dat de stad vele maanden had belegerd, uit de omstreken van Leiden was vertrokken. Van de 18000 inwoners van Leiden vòòr het beleg, waren er 6000 omgekomen of gestorven.

Het ontzet van Leiden leidde mede in de jaren die volgden tot het ontstaan van een onafhankelijk Nederland. Direct leidde het ontzet tot de oprichting van de Universiteit Leiden, die op 8 februari 1575 officieel werd ingesteld.

Het ontzet van Leiden wordt elk jaar nog steeds groots gevierd. Leidenaren en oud-Leidenaren eten haring met wittebrood, ter herinnering aan het eerste voedsel dat na het ontzet in de stad werd ingevoerd, maar ook hutspot, dat mengsel van aardappels, wortelen, uien en klapstuk, dat volgens de verhalen vanuit het verlaten Spaanse kamp naar de stad werd gebracht in een enorme ketel. Enorme ketel ....., de verhalen zijn wat overdreven. De bewuste ketel wordt bewaard in Museum De Lakenhal, en is niet zo vreselijk groot.

Maar terugkomend op het bezoek aan het TRC van Moniek van Sandick. Zij bracht voor de TRC collectie het officiële kostuum dat van 2005 tot 2015 door vrouwelijke leden van de 3 Oktober Vereeniging op 3 oktober werd gedragen. Een prachtige aanwinst voor de TRC collectie, die daarmee eens te meer de verbondenheid met de oude textielstad Leiden aangeeft.

Willem Vogelsang, 1 oktober 2016

   

An Hazara faceveil from Afghanistan

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Ruband faceveil from Afghanistan. TRC 2016.2038

Ruband faceveil from Afghanistan. TRC 2016.2038

Last week we reported on the acquisition of a burkini from Australia (click here). Now the TRC has acquired yet another unusual and very intriguing item that is also related to the concept of veiling, namely an Afghan face veil (ruband), which is decorated with Hazara style embroidery. It dates to the early 20th century and probably comes from the Kandahar region of Afghanistan. The Hazaras constitute an ethnic group in Afghanistan that is Shi'ite, rather than Sunnite, and speaks Persian (Dari), with many Mongolian loanwords. They claim to descend from the Mongolian armies of Djenchis Khan, that occupied Afghanistan in the early 13th century. For their embroidery in general, see TRC Needles.

Rubands originated in Persia in the 17th century and remained in use throughout the Persian world of influence until the mid-20th century. They were worn over the top of a chador. The use of separate rubands continued in the form of the veil section of the well-known chadaris and burqas, which combine both chador and ruband, and which are still widely used in Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively (there are examples of both forms in the TRC Collection).

 

Detail of face veil.

Detail of face veil.

Although the TRC knew of Pashtun examples of rubands (decorated with Kandahar style embroidery), the existence of Hazara versions is a new and exciting discovery for us. The embroidery on the face veil takes the form of a series of geometric shapes, stylised plant motifs, as well as amulets (‘hand of Fatima’) carried out in satin stitch (see TRC Needles) and double running stitch, with a touch of herringbone stitch in the border. The stitches are all worked in floss silk of various colours (probably dyed with aniline dyes). The eye section (to the right) has been created using drawn thread work, and is surrounded by satin stitch embroidery in the Kandahar style. This veil will be included in the TRC’s project on embroidery from Iran, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, as well as being on display in the 2-day course on veils and veiling at the TRC (4-5 November 2016).

Gillian Vogelsang, 28 September 2016

   

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Donations

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

TRC in een notendop

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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. 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: