TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Embroideries from Vienna

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We arrived in Vienna early this afternoon and went straight to the Kaiserliche Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury). This is a must for people interested in medieval and later Western and Central European embroidery. There are numerous examples of ecclesiastical embroidery, especially copes, from the 14th century, as well as an impressive collection of heraldic garments (tabards in particular) ranging in date from the 16th to the early 18th centuries.

Personally, the most impressive group of embroideries was that from Sicily. The mantle of King Rogier II of Sicily alone is worth visiting the museum. With a maximum width of 345 cm, it is worked in gold and pearls on a crimson ground and has the motifs of a striped lion attacking a camel, with an inscription in Arabic underneath. It dates to c. 1134. In the same room as the mantle is a medieval royal gown made from Chinese silk and embroidered in the West with gold and pearls, as well as silk hoses, gloves, shoes and various other gowns, all embroidered using a variety of techniques.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 3 July 2014


Ethnology Museum, Budapest. A Treasure Trove of Hungarian Embroidery

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We are having a few days in Budapest, Hungary. The Museum of Ethnology, just by the Parliament building, has a permanent display of Hungarian life. The display includes a wide range of amazing costumes for men and women, from all the main parts of Hungary, mainly dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The many forms reflect Hungary's diverse and complicated history. The exhibition also includes many different decorative techniques, as for instance felt applique, laces of various types, pulled thread work, as well as decorative stitch forms. To the uninitiated eye some of the men's outfits could be taken as elaborate women's attire. This is quite a revelation to someone used to more sober (and boring) West European men's clothing. The embroidery and woven textiles are well worth seeing and studying in further detail.

Lots of embroidery for sale in the city, but most of it is made in China for the Hungarian market (sounds familiar?). However, we found a small shop called Vali-Folkart. It is full of 'good'  embroidery and the shopkeeper, Bálint Ács, knows what he is talking about. certainly a place to visit! More details about Vali-Folkart can be found at their website

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 3 July 2014


Again a textile moment

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Last May I was one of the happy few to follow the Intensive Textile Course at TRC Leiden. Since that course my outlook on the world has been (further) textilized. Meaning, that what I see is filtered through a textile filter. This filter pops up at unexpected moments and this weekend it manifested itself again when I was looking through the NRC Newspaper. There was a large picture of the uniform worn by Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand on the day of his assassination 28 June 1914. I expect most people would associate this with the wearer, and with the act that changed the course of history. The first thing I noticed: blue fabric, twill weave. The red collar has gold embroidery in a geometric pattern, with three silver stars on either side in raised embroidery, decorated with what looks like sequins, but are probably spangles. I regret the photo was not clearer, so I might have been able to tell what thread was used for the gold embroidery. Those details I would not have noticed before the course, and it is great fun to see them since. I will have more of these moments, and look forward to them. Thanks to the teaching of Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood at TRC Leiden.

Felicia Kruger-de Bats, 24 June 2014


A textile visit to Holland

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I have just returned from a holiday in Holland, in early June, where I went to several wonderful exhibitions for West Weeft and I also had the pleasure of meeting Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, the director of the Textile Research Centre in Leiden. We chatted enthusiastically about our different interests in textiles, and how the centre relied on the help of volunteers and that recently they had set up a section on their website for textile wow moments, so I hope my small contribution will be accepted. Here goes, firstly the exhibition at the TRC was a WOW moment. Walking in to find displayed 7000 years of textile history is amazing. To be able to look closely and even try using some replica looms similar to those used by early mankind was fascinating and very humbling. The generosity of people donating textile artefacts, clothing, books and more to their ever increasing collections adding to the accessibility of knowledge for everyone is incredibly important. None of this would be possible without the dedication of the staff and the volunteers, so a big thank you for the privilege of visiting. Several days later we had another WOW moment, the at Geldrop, a very welcoming museum converted from a former textile factory that holds a superb collection of wooden floor looms and ancillary equipment from 18th century to large Jacquard, ribbon, double beam looms and all sorts of other equipment I knew nothing about but had fun looking at. There was a double sided sheet of paper written in English, but most of the descriptions were in Dutch and the centre was run by volunteers so I really need to return to Holland again and again and learn Dutch too!

Carolyn Griffiths, 18 June 2014


A Batak afternoon at the TRC

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A Batak afternoon at the TRC. 15 June 2014

A Batak afternoon at the TRC. 15 June 2014

The afternoon of the 15th of June was dedicated to a film screening and a presentation of a new book by the anthropologist, Sandra Niessen, about the weaving traditions of the Batak in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Some forty people attended the afternoon and enjoyed, not only watching the film, but also discussing the Bataks and their culture with the author. And above all, they visited the new exhibition on weaving products and weaving techniques from all over the world. The photograph shows Sandra Niessen talking with some of the visitors. The orange coloured lady in the foreground is a mannequin with an orange coloured burqa from Afghanistan..........

15 June 2015


A bright orange burqa from Afghanistan for the TRC. Football is everywhere

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Football is everywhere. A bright orange burqa from Afghanistan in the TRC window

Football is everywhere. A bright orange burqa from Afghanistan in the TRC window

We could not resist the temptation. With the world championship football in Brazil having just started and the Dutch team playing unexpectedly well, and the streets in Holland turning orange with flags, banners and whatever people can find, we at the TRC remembered the gift of an orange burqa from Afghanistan, in 2006. At that time, early in the year, I had joined a Dutch military task force in northern Afghanistan. I talked with some of the soldiers, who had just ordered three bright orange burqas from the local tailor, not exactly a colour very popular with Afghan women. Why did you order them? "Well...., we will wear them when we are back in Holland this summer and when we watch the world championship football in Germany." I asked them to order one for me as well, which they apparently did, since a month later, back at the Museum in Leiden where I was then working, I received a parcel from the Dutch Ministry of Defence with three headachy-orange coloured burqas. You will understand, when the Dutch team beat the Spanish in the opening match last Friday, the orange burqa of the TRC simply had to be brought forward again. You can see it right now in the shop window of the TRC. I do not know for how long; that depends on the next match of the Dutch team, against the Australians and then Chili. Life is full of surprises, and the ball is round, as my fellow-cloggie footballplayer/philosopher Johan Cruijff used to say.

Willem Vogelsang, 15 June 2014


The Silk Road

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A brief account of the spread of a compound weave technique along the so-called Silk Road from China to the West, some two thousand years ago, was recently published in the summer issue of the Newsletter of the International Institute for Asian Studies (Leiden). It was written by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director TRC, on the occasion of a beautiful exhibition about the Silk Road in the Hermitage of Amsterdam, between 1 March and 5 September 2014. If you want to read the article, please click here.

14 June 2014


Een intigrerende doopssluier, gegeven door Prinses Anna Paulowna

Een vroeg-19de eeuwse doopssluier. TRC collectie

Een vroeg-19de eeuwse doopssluier. TRC collectie


Het TRC heeft onlangs een zeer interessante donatie ontvangen: een grote doopssluier, gemaakt van wit, geborduurd kant.

De sluier is ongewoon, en dit heeft meerdere redenen, maar vooral omdat zij geschonken is door Anna Paulowna (1795 – 1865), dochter van de Russische Tsaar Paul I, en de vrouw van Koning Willem II, aan Maria Petronella s’Jacob-Rochussen (1792-1848). De doopssluier is waarschijnlijk aan de s’Jacob familie gegeven na de geboorte van hun dochter, Jeanne Josein Antoinette s’Jacob (1821-1910) in Brussel. Maria Petronella’s echtgenoot, Frederik s’Jacob (1775-1831), was op dat moment Secretaris van de Raad van State en nauw verbonden aan het Koninklijk Huis.

De doopssluier is geschonken aan het TRC door Mevr. V.P. Loeliger-Salomonson, een afstammeling van de s’Jacob familie. Mevr. Loeliger-Salomonson droeg de sluier als bruidssluier bij haar eigen bruiloft met Emil Loeliger in 1954.

Er volgt snel meer informatie!



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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