Naqsh Embroidery (Iran)

Fragment of Naqsh embroidery from Iran, 19th century. Fragment of Naqsh embroidery from Iran, 19th century. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, acc. no. T.61-1933.

Naqsh work is one of the most famous and striking forms of Iranian embroidery, and was popular in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is characterised by its diagonal bands and patterns of very densely worked stitching. The embroidery was especially used for panels that were sewn onto garments, in particular the lower legs of women's voluminous trousers.

The diagonal bands include smaller stylised motifs, often of flowers, birds, or vases. Because of the intricate and dense nature of the embroidery, the panels were rigid, and hence also long-lasting. They were consequently often removed when the rest of the garment was worn out, and sewn onto a new garment.

The panels were either wool on wool or silk on wool. Sometimes the ground material is cotton. At times metal thread was used. In later years the diagonal patterns were reproduced in printed fabrics that were worn in particular by the Zoroastrian community Iran.

The name of naqsh is derived from a Persian word for 'design', 'image'.

See also the panel with naqsh embroidery now in the Cleveland Museum of Art (acc. no. 1916.1307), and, in the same museum, another example dating from the eighteenth century (acc. n. 1916.1308).

See Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood and Willem Vogelsang, Encyclopedia of Embroidery from Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau and the Indian Subcontinent, London: Bloomsbury 2021, pp. 57 and 165-166.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 19 June 20121.


Last modified on Saturday, 19 June 2021 16:36
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