Daily and general garments and textiles

Daily and general garments and textiles

The cheongsam is regarded as the ‘standard’ dress for Chinese women from the 1930's until the 1960's. During this time it was popular in China’s main cities such as Shanghai as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan and among the Chinese diaspora throughout the world. They were often embroidered, either by hand or with a machine. There have been attempts to make the cheongsam into the national dress of China.

The archaeological site of Kellis (modern day Ismant el-Kharab; ‘Ismant the ruined’) lies about 11 km northeast of Mut, the capital of the Dakhla oasis. Excavations at the site began in 1986, and from 1991 the Kellis excavations were carried out by Monash University, Australia. The main phases of occupation at the site date from the early to late Roman Periods (namely from the first to the fifth centuries AD).

The collection of the Textile Research Centre in Leiden includes a cloth, 70 x 63 cm, which is made of cotton and embroidered with simple scenes taken from daily life. It dates to the 1930's and originates from Surinam in South America.

A coif is a close-fitting cap that covers the top, back and sides of the head. It was worn by both men and women during the medieval period and later in Northern Europe. The word coif derives from the Old French word coife (modern coiffe) meaning a headdress. It is also related to the late Latin cuphea, cofea, meaning a helmet. The headdress and the word are probably related to the Anglo-Saxon cuffia/cuffie, known from the tenth century.

The Textile Research Centre in Leiden has a woman's collar band from the island of Marken, the Netherlands. It measures 54 x 5 cm. It is made of cotton and embroidered with cross stitch and double running stitch.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a dress measuring 101 x 111 cm. It was made in the late nineteenth century, and consists of a silk satin ground material with silk thread embroidery and shisha work. The embroidery was worked in buttonholechain stitch and interlacing stitch. Curatorial information suggests that the dress originates from the Muslim Memon or merchant community in Banni, Kutch.

The British Museum, London, holds a long piece of embroidered cloth, some 6.5 by 1 m, which is described as a table cover or a floor mat, but which may be a kamarband, a traditional stretch of cloth wound around the waist. The ground material is cotton, and the embroidery is carried out in chain stitch with an ari hook, using silk thread.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses an ivory-coloured piece of cloth made of cotton, powdered with embroidered sprigs of rose-red flowers on a green stem, worked in silk. The cloth originates from India and dates to the late eighteenth century and measures 114 x 137 cm. It may have been part of a dress, or intended to be so, for a woman in early nineteenth century Europe.

The India Museum in London used to house part of a cotton scarf that was produced in Bengal and acquired in Nepal in c. 1855. It is decorated with a woven checked pattern with tussah silk threads. It is also embroidered in tussah silk with circular and floral motifs. The scarf has been in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, since 1879. The piece measures 105 x 84 cm.

The illustrated garment is an example of an English lady’s court outfit made from silver embroidered silk cloth. The mantua (from French manteau) dates from c. 1745 and represents one of the most formal forms of English dress of the period. A mantua is a combination of garments, including a skirt with train at the back, a jacket, a stomacher and a petticoat.

Illustrated is an embroidered evening dress designed by Don Antonio Canovas del Castillo de Rey, also known as Antonio del Castillo (19081984), for the couture house of Lanvin, Paris (France). The dress was made in 1957. The evening dress is made from cream silk zibeline (a heavy silk cloth with a twill weave). It is full length with a fitted bodice and shoulder straps. The tulip-shaped skirt is slightly gathered.

The collection of the British Museum in London includes a woman's apron from Russia, which dates to the period 1895-1910. It measures 85 x 68 cm. For the greater part made of wool, the apron is decorated with embroidery in coloured threads, sequins and metal thread (passing) plaited into narrow ribbons. The narrow top section is made of cotton.

There is a passing reference to a small group of embroidered fragments found in a man’s grave in Smela, near Kiev. The excavations were published by Count Alexey Alexandrovich Bobrinskoi (1852-1927) in 1887.

An embroidered hand cloth from Bhutan, localled called a chaksi pangkheb, dating to about 1900, is housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It is made of cotton with cotton and silk embroidery in darning stitch. This cloth was traditionally used for visitors to dry their hands. The cloth is almost 1.5 m long.

The collection of the Textile Research Centre in Leiden, the Netherlands, includes a hand embroidered, woollen jacket from among the Pashtun tribe of the Mangal, who live along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan (TRC 2005.0001). The coat is decorated with stylised flowers and geometric motifs, on the front and back.

The ground material of the coat is a coarsely woven cloth. The embroidery thread is dark red, made of wool. The stitches used are chain stitch and straight stitch .

See Gillian Vogelsng and Willem Vogelsang, Encyclopedia of Embroidery from Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau and the Indian Subcontinent. 2021. London: Bloomsbury Publishers, pp. 218-219.

TRC online catalogue  (retrieved 17 May 2021).


The Textile Research Centre in Leiden, the Netherlands, houses a hand embroidered, cotton jumlo from northern Pakistan.

Embroidered Kashmir shawls come from the Jammu and Kashmir region of the northwestern Indian subcontinent. Kashmir shawls can come in a variety of different ground materials, which range from a very fine to a coarse woollen cloth.

The Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin houses a pair of early eighteenth century mitts, which were made in Germany. They measure 31.5 x 10 cm. The gold thread embroidery is partly worked free-style and partly worked over a card template.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York houses a sarong from Lampung, southern Sumatra, Indonesia. It probably dates to the early twentieth century. It is made of cotton (ikat) bands interspersed with silk thread embroidered bands. According to curatorial information, the combination of ikat and embroidery is characteristic for (central) Lampung.

In the nineteenth century, there were various excavations of burial mounds near the Crimean city of Kerch. Textiles were found dating from the fourth - second centuries BC. The textiles include woven, printed, as well as embroidered forms. There are locally made pieces as well as imported examples, notably Chinese silks.

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