TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Krakow and Auschwitz: beauty and horror

Part of a costume gallery with local clothing. Courtesy Museum of Ethnography, Krakow, Poland.

Part of a costume gallery with local clothing. Courtesy Museum of Ethnography, Krakow, Poland.

On Wednesday, 5th June 2019, Willem Vogelsang wrote:

I am just back from six days in the beautiful town of Krakow, Poland. It was an academic meeting that took me there in the first place, but fortunately I had the chance to stay a few days longer to get to know Krakow a little bit better.

I was really taken with the ethnographic museum, which houses a large and beautiful collection of regional clothing from Krakow and surroundings. To be precise, the name of the Museum is the Muzeum Etnograficzne im. Seweryna Udzieli w Krakowie. It was established in the early 20th century, and its holdings are very much based on the folk art brought together by the collector, Seweryn Udziela. The Museum is currently housed in the former town hall of Kazimierski, a suburb of Krakow. Most of the collection, as said, reflects Polish culture, and in particular that of southern Poland.

Read more: Krakow and Auschwitz: beauty and horror

   

Ribbons and sequins

Ribbon shirt commissioned for the TRC from textile artist Jennie Kappenman.

Ribbon shirt commissioned for the TRC from textile artist Jennie Kappenman.

On Saturday 25th May, TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson wrote:

Two new TRC acquisitions are good illustrations of the diversity of the TRC collection. The first is a ribbon shirt that was commissioned expressly for the TRC from textile artist Jennie Kappenman (Red Lake Ojibwe). A ribbon shirt is a pan-American Indian garment “worn by men and women, generally on special occasions or ceremonial purposes. It's a way for us to represent ourselves in a nice way to our communities or spiritual practices,” writes Jennie.

The shirt’s origins are thought to be in North America’s Great Lakes region. French and English traders introduced silk ribbons in the 1700s, and also open neck, pull-over shirts originally of linen or cotton. By the 1800s many indigenous men wore ribbon shirts rather than the traditional buckskin shirt. The TRC’s shirt is black polyester, with ribbons in the colours of the Four Directions: red, yellow, black and white. A machine-stitched appliqué of a buffalo represents the Ojibwe and Dakota territories that make up the US state of Minnesota.

 
Teddy donated to the TRC by Jennifer Hopelezz, drag-queen from Amsterdam.

Teddy donated to the TRC by Jennifer Hopelezz, drag-queen from Amsterdam.

The second acquisition is a donation from the Amsterdam drag queen Jennifer Hopelezz. Or rather, the drag activist or ‘dragtivist’, as Jennifer uses the attention she gets as a man dressing up as a woman to promote LGBT+ equality and to fight discrimination against people with HIV. The drag costume featured is a teddy made of factory produced black net, embellished with a floral design of silver-coloured sequins. It was made for Jennifer by Spanish designer Sergio Pedrero Santos, who also known the drag queen Lola Veneno.

This costume and others will be featured in an upcoming TRC digital exhibition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. In June 1969, when police raided the New York gay bar called Stonewall, customers unexpectedly fought back. The area around the bar was barricaded and traffic shut down for almost three days as more gay, lesbian and transgender people from around the city gathered to protest discrimination. The modern movement for LGBT+ rights was launched. The first LGBT+ Pride March took place the next year, to mark the first year anniversary of Stonewall.

   

A Russian ribbon with a history

A St. George ribbon, produced and distributed in Russia to mark the end of World War II (May 2019). TRC collectiom

A St. George ribbon, produced and distributed in Russia to mark the end of World War II (May 2019). TRC collectiom

On Saturday, 18th May 2019, TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson wrote:

I visited St. Petersburg (Russia) on a national holiday. Victory Day, 9 May, celebrates the end of the Second World War, or, as it’s known in Russia, the Great Patriotic War. Millions had gathered in St. Petersburg to participate in a massive parade. Many carried placards with photographs of relatives who had fought and died during the war and the brutal siege the city had suffered. You could spot some people in 1940s-style military uniforms. Thousands of people also wore a ribbon on their chest.

I was curious about this wide ribbon, tied in a bow. It’s called the Saint George ribbon, after a patron saint of Russia, and has three black stripes and four orange ones. It is worn on the left side, closest to the heart, as a symbol of respect for those who  died during the war and as a symbol of pride in being Russian. Its history goes back to 1769, when Empress Catherine the Great first established the prestigious military decoration, the Order of St. George. The black stripe symbolised gun powder, while the orange symbolised the fire of war.

Read more: A Russian ribbon with a history

   

About André Rieu, Volendam, and American GI's.

Postcard with two German soldiers and two women in Volendam-style costume, 1943 (TRC 2019.1436).

Postcard with two German soldiers and two women in Volendam-style costume, 1943 (TRC 2019.1436).

On Friday night, 17 May 2019, Willem Vogelsang wrote:

Tonight Gillian and yours truly watched a music show by André Rieu (we are not proud). What struck us was a group of supposedly Dutch girls in folkloristic costume dancing on the stage. They looked perfect. That is, from a distance. Long blond hair, blue eyes, and you could imagine tulips sticking out of their ears.

But a closer look revealed that their costume was rather weird: they covered their head with the Volendam cap, which, I know, appears to be world-famous and for many is The cliché of Holland. That is fine, but they also wore bright yellow and painted clogs, which again seem to be very Dutch (although I have never worn them and I am afraid my Dutchness is beyond doubt). A little detail, however, is that the Volendam cap and yellow clogs do not go well together. Women in Volendam wore black, carved clogs during the week, and shoes on Sundays. A little detail, but still...

That was not all. In between the Volendam cap and non-Volendam clogs the girls on André Rieu's stage also wore what looked like South German / Austrian Dirndl outfits. I like these costumes, and all they contain, but not really what one would expect to see anywhere in Holland. 

Read more: About André Rieu, Volendam, and American GI's.

   

TRC object on display in American museum

TRC sheet of embroidered designs for WW1 postcards, on display in Kansas City (TRC 2015.0422).

TRC sheet of embroidered designs for WW1 postcards, on display in Kansas City (TRC 2015.0422).

The National World War 1 Museum and Memorial of the United States, in Kansas City, USA, has mounted a special exhibition called 'Colour of Memory'. It includes souvenirs from the war front, but also an item from the TRC Collection (TRC 2015.0422).

It is a sheet of embroidered designs for decorated postcards, to be sent home by soldiers fighting in the war. The sheet was identified by the museum after looking at the TRC's digitial exhibition on WW1 postcards. The interesting detail about this sheet is that the designs are dated to 1919, and were obviously prepared before the war was ended on 11th November 1918.

   

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

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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
 
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