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Hand knitted socks from the Shahsavan in northwestern Iran. Late 20th century (TRC 1998.0260a-b).Hand knitted socks from the Shahsavan in northwestern Iran. Late 20th century (TRC 1998.0260a-b).The last few weeks we have been working hard on clearly understanding and projecting the future of the TRC, the approaches we want to take and which people we want to attract, and all of this should be based on the TRC principle that we want to be an inclusive centre, rather than exclusive!

The TRC is a textiles and dress institute. As for dress, we have already developed the idea of the language of dress: what do people wear in order to show who they are and want to be, and how others see them and interpret their clothing. This concept was broadly outlined in an article published in the July 2019 Newsletter of the International Institute for Asian Studies.

The other branch of the TRC, namely the textiles themselves, still needs to be further discussed. What does the TRC want to do with the study and presentation of textiles, which groups of people do we want to attract and support?

Not long ago I was talking with some visitors to the TRC. They suggested that we should focus on museum colleagues, academics doing research and students. They also wanted a few "hobbyists", but not too many. 

Hand knitted dress, by Eva Radu, Romania, c. 1970s (TRC 2020.0336a).Hand knitted dress, by Eva Radu, Romania, c. 1970s (TRC 2020.0336a).What can you do if you want to be fashionable, but cannot afford the prices or even see the garments in the first place?

One solution has just been donated to the TRC Leiden! The lady in question was Eva Radu (1932-2019) from Romania, who was a professional hand knitter. She was brought up in a poor family during the Communist period when Western fashion items were not widely available.

Since she was twelve Eva Radu had been knitting and selling the garments she had produced. Later in life she made a range of garments copying and adapting Western fashions. Some of these garments she sold, other items she wore. Ideas for these garments came from East German and Hungarian fashion magazines. Sadly, Mrs. Radu died in 2019 leaving various items, including pieces from her wardrobe such as dresses, skirts, jumpers, cardigans, etc., to various family members.

Georg Stark invests a lot of time and resources on tracing the history of dyeing as well as preserving the craft in Germany. Image: Amrita DasGeorg Stark invests a lot of time and resources on tracing the history of dyeing as well as preserving the craft in Germany. Image: Amrita DasThe block-printer and indigo dyer Georg Stark, from Jever, Germany, has been a frequent visitor to the TRC in Leiden, sharing his knowledge and experience with TRC staff. He is now retiring and wants to sell his atelier and its contents to a suitable successor.

For 35 years his workshop has provided the means for a full living and it is honoured by the UNESCO as a place of cultural heritage.

The workshop houses more than 1000 antique printing blocks together with rolls of linen, fine cotton and silk. The atelier and its new owner will not be bound to the town of Jever and its contents may be moved to another location.

For more information, click here, or go to https://bit.ly/39X8ctb.

Gillian Vogelsang, Sunday 23rd February 2020

Veerle van Kersen examining the Quseir textiles with a Dyno-lite microscope, at the TRC in Leiden, February 2020. Photograph by Gillian Vogelsang.Veerle van Kersen examining the Quseir textiles with a Dyno-lite microscope, at the TRC in Leiden, February 2020. Photograph by Gillian Vogelsang.Veerle van Kersen is a textile archaeologist who recently passed her MA exams in archaeology at Leuven University, On Wednesday, the 20th February 2020, she wrote:

In the past few weeks I have been spending some time at the TRC to study a collection of fifty medieval textile fragments from Egypt. They were found during archaeological excavations at Quseir al-Qadim in the 1980’s and consist mainly of resist-dyed cottons, manufactured in India for the Egyptian market.

Located on the Red Sea coast, Quseir al-Qadim was an important trading post both in Roman and Mamluk times. These finds come from the latter period, dating between the 13th and 14th centuries AD. I first started by matching the fragments to their excavation numbers, placing them in tissue paper, and giving them a new TRC number.

Next I have been examining the textiles in greater detail, and taking photographs. The textiles have been studied and published before, but modern methods might help to reveal more secrets. For the detailed analysis I made use of a digital microscope. This new instrument, one of which recently acquired by the TRC, has been incredibly helpful for textile researchers, and is often known as a “Dino-Lite” after the most popular manufacturer.

A Maya huipil from Patzicia, Guatemala, late 20th century (TRC 2019.1840).A Maya huipil from Patzicia, Guatemala, late 20th century (TRC 2019.1840).On the 17th February 2020, Dorinda Terhoeve wrote:

To tell the story of the huipil is to tell a story of resilience. This Mayan garment looks simple in its appearance, being a sleeveless rectangular tunic made of only two or three panels.

However, the embroidered colours, local variations, history and its makers are highly intriguing and fascinating. The huipil has changed little since the ancient civilization of the Maya’s. Even the Spanish conquest had little influence on how the garment was, and still is made and worn today by women in parts of Mexico and Guatemala.

Two Middle Eastern women in Capelle a/d IJssel, proudly showing their embroidery.Two Middle Eastern women in Capelle a/d IJssel, proudly showing their embroidery.Arab embroidery is an art that is closely linked to the female domain. It's not just a traditional form of dress decoration, but an icon that reflects the woman's identity passed down from mother to daughter for generations.

In the past, traditional embroidery was distinguished by its rich colours, enchanting silk fabrics, golden threads, its geometric patterns and unique motifs that symbolized stories of women and their surroundings, their identity and their position in society.

Carnival's outfit from The Netherlands (TRC 2020.0392a-b).Carnival's outfit from The Netherlands (TRC 2020.0392a-b).From the 23rd-25th February, people in large parts of The Netherlands, especially in the south, will again be celebrating carnival. This festival is a Western Christian tradition that is especially celebrated in Catholic countries, and takes place just before the liturgical period of Lent (the forty days of fasting before Easter). 

Carnival always ends with Ash Wednesday (this year the 26th February), which is the first day of Lent. The preceding Tuesday is often known, especially in Protestant countries, as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, or more popularly, 'Pancake Day'.

Carnival is generally marked by street parades, fancy costumes, and an overall mockery of the establishment. An important aspect of carnival is the fancy costume that people are wearing.

The TRC recently received a carnival's outfit (TRC 2020.0392a and TRC 2020.0392b). We don't  know its origins, it may even derive from the Leiden area. Carnival in the Netherlands is traditionally centred in the south of the country, with a dominant Catholic population. In the more Protestant north, including Leiden, carnaval is not widely observed.

The TRC costume consists of a polyester cotton with a colourful printed design. The skirt is made of straw. In the week of carnival the fancy costume will be on display at the TRC.

Gillian Vogelsang, 13th February 2020.

Berlin wool work chart, mid-19th century, made in Berlin (TRC 2018.1578).Berlin wool work chart, mid-19th century, made in Berlin (TRC 2018.1578).On Saturday the 15th February 2020, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

For the last few months we have been discussing the TRC Library, its future and how to make it more accessible, especially as more and more books are being donated to the Library.

It is rapidly growing into a comprehensive source of information about textiles and dress from throughout the world with books in a wide range of languages.

 

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TRC in a nutshell

Hogewoerd 164
2311 HW Leiden.
Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 /
+31 (0)6 28830428  
info@trc-leiden.nl

Open on Mondays - Thursdays
from 10.00 - 16.00.

Bank account number:
NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59,
Stichting Textile Research Centre

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome!

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -25 June 2020: American Quilts

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Donations

The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
 
Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
 
Financial donations to the TRC can also be made via Paypal: