TRC Blog: Textile Moments

More about American quilts and the TRC

Sherry Cook and Adrian Pratt, with Gillian Vogelsang, at the TRC, 12th October 2018

Sherry Cook and Adrian Pratt, with Gillian Vogelsang, at the TRC, 12th October 2018

On Saturday, 13th October 2018, Gillian Vogelsang writes:

Since August 2018 we have had an exhibition called ‘Sherry’s American Quilts’ on display at the TRC. It includes over twenty quilts  and quilt tops donated by Sherry Cook. It is a gentle exhibition with some lovely items dating from the 1830’s onwards.

A few days ago we had the great pleasure of actually showing Sherry and her husband Darwin around the exhibition. They have come all the way from their home near Portland, Oregon (USA), to hand deliver another group of quilts, which they have donated to the TRC. These ‘new’ quilts date from the 1840’s to the present day (compare TRC 2018.3121TRC 2018.3127; TRC 2018.3118) and represent many aspects of American history and cultural heritage, as well as changing artistic tastes and textile technology.

Read more: More about American quilts and the TRC

   

Hanging by a sleeve

Beverley Bennett sewing on sleeves for the quilts (TRC October 2018).

Beverley Bennett sewing on sleeves for the quilts (TRC October 2018).

Beverley Bennett, a TRC volunteer, reports on her work with the American quilts recently donated to the TRC (Monday, 8th October 2018):

Sherry’s American Quilts is the current exhibition at the TRC and I have taken on the task of making ‘hanging sleeves’ for some of the quilts. Why is this necessary? Well, quilts were made for beds – mostly for the warmth that the three layers (top, bottom and some form of ‘padding’) provided. However, they soon became decorative objects in their own right.

Striving to be the best at making quilts led to competitions at County and State Fairs, where quilters would show their work and compete for first place and a blue ribbon – later there were larger quilt contests where cash prizes could be won. Today there are huge Quilt Shows with prizes for every category that you can think of.

Read more: Hanging by a sleeve

   

An intriguing Kashmir shawl with an Afghan connection

Kashmir shawl, attributed to Mohammed Azim Khan, the Pashtun governor of Kashmir between c. 1813 and 1819 (courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, MMA x.103.4).

Kashmir shawl, attributed to Mohammed Azim Khan, the Pashtun governor of Kashmir between c. 1813 and 1819 (courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, MMA x.103.4).

Sunday, 16th September: Not many people may know this, but for many years Kashmir in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent was ruled by a series of Pashtun governors sent to the mountains of Kashmir from the Afghan/Pashtun capital in Kandahar or Kabul.

Pashtun rule started in the mid-eighteenth century and came to an end around 1820 when the province was captured by the Sikhs, who were rapidly expanding their realm from their capital in Lahore, now in northern Pakistan.

Not much is known about the period of Pashtun domination in Kashmir. But while preparing the Encyclopedia of Embroidery from Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau and the Indian Subcontinent (London: Bloomsbury 2019), we came across a Kashmir shawl now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA x.103.4). It measures 183 x 131 cm and was woven out of goat’s hair (pashmina). The Museum has dated this example to c. 1825. What is so exciting is a Persian text stitched onto the shawl, which reads (in English): ‘O Hoseyn; ordered by the most noble governor [nawab], Mohammed Azim Khan’.

The title of nawab was commonly used in the Indo-Iranian lands for ‘governor’. So who was ‘the governor’ Mohammed Azim Khan, who ordered this shawl? And yes, Mohammed Azim Khan Barakzai was indeed one of the last Pashtun governors of Kashmir, between c. 1813 and 1819. He was a younger brother of Fath Ali Khan Barakzai, the king’s vizier, who had obviously appointed his younger brother to the governorship in Kashmir. However, Fath Ali Khan was tortured to death (blinded, flayed and dismembered) in 1818 on the orders of the king, Shah Mahmud Sadozai. Upon hearing the news of his elder brother’s death, Mohammed Azim Khan left his position in Kashmir and managed, together with his many other Barakzai brothers, to oust Shah Mahmud and his Sadozai clan and take charge of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

A few years later, in 1823, Azim Khan was defeated by the Sikhs at Nowshera east of Peshawar, and soon afterwards he died of dysentery in the Lataband Pass, just east of Kabul. His son, Habibullah Khan, succeeded him in Kabul, but he was soon pushed aside by his uncles. One of these, Dost Mohammed Khan, would by c. 1825 take charge in Kabul and gradually extend his control, until, by his death in 1863, he would rule almost all of what today we recognize as the republic of Afghanistan.

The Barakzai family would dominate Afghan politics until the communist coup of 1978.

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 16th September 2018

   

New acquisitions for the TRC collection

Hand embroidered bride's dress from 19th century China, decorated with wisteria flowers woven in a delicate tapestry weave (TRC 2018.2840).

Hand embroidered bride's dress from 19th century China, decorated with wisteria flowers woven in a delicate tapestry weave (TRC 2018.2840).

Saturday 8th September. Gillian Vogelsang, director TRC, writes:

The last two weeks has seen a very diverse group of textiles and garments being donated to the TRC Leiden. These include nineteenth century Chinese garments, some of them for court officials, another for a bride, and also a number of Zoroastrian textiles and garments from Yazd in Iran and dating to the early 20th century (see below). The Zoroastrian garments are part of a donation by the Katayoun Keyani and Mehraban Bondarian family in America.

There is also a group of Peruvian hand knitted caps form the 1970’s (compare TRC 2018.2913). Some of these will appear in the TRC’s exhibition about hand knitting, planned for the autumn of 2019. And from the Indian subcontinent we received a donation of ralli quilts from Pakistan/western India, and these date from the 1960’s and 70’s (compare TRC 2018.2896, TRC 2018.2897, TRC 2018.2898 and TRC 2018.2899).

Read more: New acquisitions for the TRC collection

   

New quilt exhibition is up !

Setting up the quilt exhibition

Setting up the quilt exhibition

The last few weeks have been dedicated to getting the TRC’s latest exhibition ready. It is called Sherry’s American Quilts and is a ‘thank you’ to Sherry Cook for donating over 25 American quilts, tops and related items. It runs from 20th August until the 18th October 2018. On Thursday afternoon we started to take down the feedsack exhibition, which was a sad moment as we all loved this colourful and intriguing exhibition. Then we started to put up the new display with initially 25 items, but it was increased to over thirty objects as we changed position, proposed order, colours, etc.

Work continued on Friday morning and then, all of a sudden, it was there! The right objects in the right place. Highlights? Well, there is a late nineteenth century velvet crazy quilt that is made of silk velvet in jewel colours. There is also a quilt with appliqué airplanes, a design that celebrates Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic in 1927 (click here). But perhaps the quilt that is causing the most comment is a blue/white pieced quilt with a Feathered Star design. It is believed that this quilt dates to the mid-nineteenth century, or possibly earlier. It is beautifully quilted and by itself worth coming to Leiden for. But there are other quilts to see, dating from the late nineteenth century to the 1950’s, as well as items that were worked and finished by Sherry and her Amish friends.

Gillian Vogelsang, Sunday 19th August 2018

 

   

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Donations

 
Financial donations to the TRC can be made via Paypal; Donaties aan de TRC kunnen worden overgemaakt via Paypal:
 
 

TRC in a nutshell

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

Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment.

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

Current exhibition: Sherry Cook's Americaan quilts, until 18th October

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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 Textile Research Centre, Leiden. 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 be made via Paypal: