Seventeenth Century Dutch Pearl Embroidered Gloves

One of a pair of early 17th century gloves from England. One of a pair of early 17th century gloves from England. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. 711&A-1875.

In AD 1613, six pairs of pearl embroidered gloves (perhaps comparable to the pearl-embroidered English glove illustrated here) were sent by the Dutch government to the Ottoman sultan, Ahmed I (r: 1590-1617) in Istanbul. In May of the same year, the Dutch ambassador, Cornelis Haga, oversaw the ceremonial presentation of these gloves, plus a vast array of other precious goods, to the Turkish ruler on behalf of the Staten-Generaal of the Netherlands.

The items, including animals, birds, food, jewels, woodwork, and so forth, were part of diplomatic consultations aimed at allowing the Dutch direct access to Ottoman ports and Levantine and Mediterranean trade. The objects were described as being the finest Dutch craftsmanship available in Amsterdam, Haarlem, elsewhere in the Netherlands, or in other countries such as China and India.

Among the hundreds of items sent were textiles including carpets, fine linens, satins, tapestries, velvets, as well as six pairs of knitted gloves and the six pairs of gloves embroidered with pearls. The latter were described as being: “Zes paer handtschoenen met peerlen gheborduert” ('six pairs of gloves embroidered with pearls'; compare Heeringa and Nanninga, vol. 1, p. 272). In the accompanying footnote by Heeringa and Nanninga, it says that the gloves were delivered by someone called Jacob le Febury for the sum of f32,13,4 [sic]. The embroidered gloves appear to have cost more money than originally intended, but no further details are given. What happened to the gloves once they arrived at the Ottoman court is also unknown.

Cornelis Haga (1578-1654) was the first Dutch ambassador to Istanbul (1612-1639). Trained at Leiden University, he was instrumental in winning a dominant position of Dutch merchants in the Ottoman Empire.

See also the TRC Needles entries on a design for a gloveImperial gloves of the German Empire; Johanna La Maire's embroidered gloves, and pearl embroidery.


  • HEERINGA, K. and J. G. NANNINGA (1910). Bronnen tot de geschiedenis van den Levantschen handel 1590-1826, 4 vols, The Hague, (vol. 1. pp. 273–274 in particular).
  • SWAN, Claudia (2013). 'Birds of paradise for the sultan: Early seventeenth-century Dutch-Turkish encounters and the use of wonder,' De Zeventiende Eeuw: Cultuur in de Nederlanden in Interdisciplinair Perspectief, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 50-63. Download here.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 9th July 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 14 June 2017 18:34
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