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A quilted shirt for a Pashai man, Afghanistan (TRC 2018.2581).A quilted shirt for a Pashai man, Afghanistan (TRC 2018.2581).Gillian Vogelsang writes about a recent trip to Cambridge:

Willem and I have just had a textile weekend in Cambridge, England. It was meant to be a mixture of holiday and work, but embroidery dominated the time. We were there to talk with Caroline Stone and John Gillow about the Encyclopedia of Embroidery series (Bloomsbury), Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent embroidery in particular. It was intensive and hundreds of photographs were made, notes taken, embroideries examined and ‘new’ stitches identified. Not so surprising, perhaps, a number of textiles were acquired so that further technical analysis could took place at the TRC in Leiden.

Detail of the quilted sleeve of the Pashai shirt (TRC 2018.2581).Detail of the quilted sleeve of the Pashai shirt (TRC 2018.2581).The new acquisitions include some unusual pieces. One of them is a quilted shirt that has been ascribed to a Pashai man from Afghanistan. Most of the Pashai live northeast and east of Kabul, and they still speak an Indic language (a branch generally called Dardic). They are already mentioned in the autobiography of Babur, the founder of the North Indian Mughal dynasty, in the early sixteenth century. I have never seen anything like this garment and its decorative quilting before. If anyone has any further information about this garment can they please let me know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.? The Pashai shirt forms a welcome addition to the TRC collection. It already includes two women's caps from the Pashai (TRC 2000.0116 and TRC 2000.0117).

There is also a small piece of embroidery from among the Jains in India, with some European-style elements (TRC 2018.2582).

Last year, when we were in Lucknow in northern India, we ordered a sampler of the different types of metal thread and other types of embroidery produced by one particular workshop. Thanks to Dr. Siddarth (Montu) Saxena (himself from Lucknow, and now living in Cambridge) and his wife, this sampler (TRC 2018.2580) was picked up on Saturday evening (along with a wonderful Lucknow dinner!). Our graceful hosts also had some Kazakh embroideries, which were photographed in their garden and will be appearing in Vol. 2 of the Encyclopaedia series. Busman’s holiday – yes, but very enjoyable and we learnt a lot.

Gillian Vogelsang, 23rd July 2018


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TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -27 August 2020: American Quilts

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