An amulet (Latin: amuletum) is any object that is worn to protect its owner or wearer from danger or harm caused by disease, evil, witchcraft, etc. It is sometimes sewn onto clothing as a form of applied decoration.

Applied decoration (also called applied work) may include, for decorative needlework, the sewing down of items onto cloth, leather or a similar ground material. These items are normally sewn down in a deliberate and decorative manner and are often combined with decorative stitching. Applied items may include beads, bracteates, cloth, coins, chains, mirrors, seeds, shells, wire, etc.

A baroque pearl is irregularly shaped, rather than being smooth and round. The shape of such a pearl may vary considerably. It may have slight aberrations or have a large, lumpy shape.

Beetlewing embroidery is an applied technique using iridescent beetlewing casings (rather than the actual beetlewings). For at least several centuries, this type of work has been carried out in various Asian countries, notably China, India, Japan, Myanmar and Thailand.

A bracteate is a thin, metal (especially gold) disc or shaped form, which is sewn onto a textile or item of clothing. A bracteate is normally small, only a few centimetres in diameter. A bracteate can be very simple, or highly embellished with other materials, sich as beads, gems, or (enamelled) glass.

Cowrie (also spelt cowry) is the common name for a marine gastropod of the genus Cypraea, family Cypraeidae. The word cowrie is often used to describe the shell of these snails. The shells are normally egg-shaped, with a flat underside. The term ‘porcelain’ is said to derive from an old Italian term for the cowrie shell (porcellana), on account of its translucent appearance.

Gul-i pirahan ('flower of the shirt') is the term for an ornamental roundel on Pashtun garments and other items. They are generally made of felt and covered with symbols and objects of good luck and fertility, such as coloured beads, cowrie shells and metal discs. These roundels are usually applied in pairs and stitched to the upper part of women’s dresses, bags and animal trappings.

Mother-of-pearl is a composite material produced by some forms of molluscs as an inner shell layer. The molluscs are notably mussels and oysters. The material is strong, resilient and iridescent. Mother-of-pearl has long been used in various parts of the world for making decorative buttons for garments.

Nacré work is a form of decorative needlework using mother-of-pearl (French: nacré). Traditionally, nacré work consists of shapes, such as petals and leaves, cut out of mother-of-pearl, which have one or more holes drilled into them. The shapes are then sewn onto a velvet or silk ground using silk or gold thread.

A wide variety of materials was used to decorate indigenous clothing in North America before contact with the Europeans. These decorative materials included bone, feathers, fur, leather fringes, quills (North American quillwork) and shells.

North American quillwork is a form of decorative needlework that makes use of porcupine or bird quills. Quillwork from North America has been a focus of much study, although it is incorrect to believe that quillwork is exclusive to this region, as it is also carried out in Africa.

In the nineteenth century, a paillette was a simple piece of coloured foil or bright metal used to ornament textiles. In the latter half of the twentieth century, the term paillette was used for a much wider range of shapes and materials, with one or more holes to attach the shape to the textile. The term is often incorrectly used for a sequin (UK), which is a small disc with a single hole in the centre.

Passement is an archaic term for both braids and laces that were applied flat to clothes or as a border to a curtain, etc. In particular the term was associated with a metal thread braid used to edge a garment. The term comes from the French word passement, and it was in wide-spread use in Britain from the fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries, at what time the term passement was being replaced by dentelle (Fr: lace).

Passementerie is a general term used for fringes, gimps, ornamental cords, tassels, trimmings and so forth that are sewn down onto a garment or textile of some form. The term can also be used to describe a form of applied embroidery, whereby a flexible cord or braid is couched down in a decorative pattern onto a ground material.

A pearl is a hard, iridescent object produced within the soft tissue of a living, shelled mollusc. A pearl is made up of calcium carbonate and layers of animal membrane (conchiolin). The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes of pearls (baroque pearls) occur.

A pearl bead is a lustrous round bead with a single hole through the centre, which imitates the appearance of a natural pearl. Pearl beads come in a variety of sizes.

Pearl embroidery is a form of decorative needlework that uses applied, natural or cultivated pearls of various sizes. The pearls are normally pierced. It was a popular technique in the European medieval and renaissance periods for the embellishment of elite and religious garments.

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