TRC Blog: Textile Moments

A visit to Maastricht

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Christopher Ng's Textile Moment was in the Treasury of the Basilica of Saint Servatius: The medieval textiles collection of this Basilica in Maastricht, the Netherlands, is counted among the most important of its kind. These textiles were carefully restored and documented by specialists from the Abegg-Stiftung in Riggisberg, Switzerland, in the late 1980s.

Statue of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in Maastricht, The Netherlands

Statue of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in Maastricht, The Netherlands

Among the best pieces in the collection are the so-called alb of Saint Servatius and the robe of Monulph. There is also an extensive collection of Oriental silks, some dating back to the 4th century, from Constantinople, Egypt and Central Asia. Some medieval-woven silks and embroideries from Europe, particularly from the Meuse-Rhine area, Spain and Italy are on display. All textiles can be found in a small upper room accessible via a spiral staircase.

Also in Maastricht, at the Basilica of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, the 15th-century wooden statue was recently given a new cloak. This cloak was made entirely by ordinary people, supported by companies and institutions in Limburg, from its design phase to its final composition. The outside of the cloak is made of two layers of fabric by 20-year old Marie-Claire Buffet, a French exchange student from the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design. The designs were laser-created to cut voids on the upper fabric thus exposing the fabric underneath. The lining, designed by Rob Simons, was printed with four hundred names submitted by the sponsors. The clasp was designed by Elwy Schutten from the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design; and the cloak was assembled locally in Maastricht. Unfortunately, the treasury was closed so I didn't get to feast my eyes on more textiles.

See (in Dutch and in English) and for more information.

18 May 2014


Garments from Uzbekistan

Uzbek chapan with gold work embroidery. TRC collection.

Uzbek chapan with gold work embroidery. TRC collection.

Last week I attended an international conference in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, at the kind invitation of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Brussels/The Hague. I told someone about the work of the TRC and at the end of the conference I was given a beautiful collection of local clothing by my host, Mr. Mahmoud Husanovich Babajanov (deputy chairman of the association “Uzpahtasanoat”).

The collection that I was so gracefully presented with includes three women’s dresses of ‘atlas’ (ikat) weave, which will feature well in the planned exhibition on worldwide ikat textiles that the TRC is planning for next year; a gold embroidered cap for a woman (doppe); a hand embroidered and sleeveless chapan for a woman; a hand embroidered chapan for a man (with long sleeves); a pointed cap (doppe) for a man; and a hand embroidered kamarband (bel karz) for a man. The garments are locally produced and some are embellished with goldwork embroidery. They form a great addition to the TRC collection and to the material currently being collected by the TRC for future exhibitions.

Willem Vogelsang, 18 May 2014



A visit to Greece

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Marleen Audretsch, one of the TRC volunteers, describes her textile moment. "In Greece, 25 March is Independence Day, celebrating independence from the Ottoman Empire," she writes. "I was in Argos, Peloponnese, that day, and what a surprise it was: hundreds of proud Greeks, old and young, marching in their gorgeous regional costumes. I've never seen so many foustanellas, the white skirts worn by the Evzones, the Presidential Guards who keep a vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. The foustanella was the uniform of the freedom fighters of the 1821 revolution. It has 400 pleats, thus symbolizing the four centuries of Ottoman rule. Visitors who want to see more national costumes should visit the beautiful collection of the Ethnological Museum in Corinth." For a video of Marleen's visit and the garments she saw, go to the TRC Facebook page.

11 May 2014



Visit to Saudi Arabia

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Embroidered bridal jacket from the Asir, Southwest Saudi Arabia. Collection TRC.

Embroidered bridal jacket from the Asir, Southwest Saudi Arabia. Collection TRC.

Well, I have just come back from a 6-day trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at the kind invitation of the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society. I gave a workshop on the history of embroidery from around the world to a large group of Saudi women and talked with various specialists about the role and types of embroidery in Saudi Arabia.

It is very clear that the love of embroidery is very deep in the ‘Kingdom’ and they have a long and vary varied tradition of this technique. It is literally one of the hidden gems of Saudi life!

There are various groups recording the many forms of embroidery to be found throughout this vast country. At the moment this information is only available in Arabic, however they are actively translating the books into English. We will let you know when they appear, as these volumes will be worth having in any embroidery library.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 21 April 2014


Jordan, Amsterdam and Prague

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Jordan Conference and visit to Tiraz!

25th – 31st March 2014

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director of the TRC, has just come back from a textile conference in Amman, Jordan, organised by the Centre for Textile Research, Copenhagen and the Jordan Museum, Amman. For a copy of her report click here.

There was also an opportunity to see the Tiraz, the new home of the Widad Kawar collection, which is involved in displaying, recording and preserving various aspects of Palestinian history and material culture. Although the Centre is not yet open to the general public, when it does later in 2014 it should be regarded as a must for any textile lover.



Expedition Silk Road

Hermitage Museum, Amsterdam


Expedition Silk Road features 250 objects--murals, gold, glass and silk--in a new exhibit at the Hermitage Museum, Amsterdam. Some amazing textiles are on display, including linen doll's clothing from the 8th-9th century; Buddhist banners from the same period; silk and fur kaftans, and a 2000-year-old pair of baggy silk trousers from a burial mound in Northern Mongolia. "Expedition Silk Road" is open until 5 September. For more information see (Shelley)



Textile Moments in Prague, Czech Republic


I have just come back from a three day visit to Prague and thought you might be interested in the following collections:

Prague Castle Museum: I was in the museum of the history of Prague Castle and found that there is an amazing collection of medieval textiles and garments that have come from various local graves. The textiles include many silk pieces of various origins, including Spain, Italy, Byzantium and the Middle East. There was one piece that was clearly derived from a Sassanian original with paired birds and a pearl border. Some of the silks and garments are difficult to see, but if you are in Prague the museum is well worth a visit.

Treasury of the Holy Cross: near to the museum of Prague Castle there is the Treasury of the Holy Cross, part of the St. Vitas Cathedral. The treasury includes a number of medieval textiles and garments including a pearl ornamented crown, mitre, and four amazing panels for a dalmatica. In addition, there is a chasuble, stola and maniple made out of decoratively woven straw and further embellished with straw embroidery (couching). Well worth seeing.

Museum of Decorative Arts: Another place to visit in Prague is the (Uměleckoprůmyslové muzeum v Prazeor; Museum of Decorative Arts), which is on the other side of the river to the castle and cathedral. The museum has a large permanent exhibition about textiles and urban dress, called the History of Fibre: Textiles and Fashion. Down the centre of the room is a fashion parade of indoor and outdoor garments spanning the late nineteenth to the latter half of the twentieth century. These are displayed so that you can see the front and back of the garments. Down the sides of the room are chests of drawers full of textiles – based on embroidered, lace, printed, and woven types, and so forth. There is a mezzanine floor with a collection of embroidered and woven ecclesiastical garments and dresses for the Virgin Mary and various female saints.

Gillian Vogelsang, 6 April 2014



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