TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Syriac Orthodox display opened

Display of clothing and objects associated with Bishop Mor Julius Yeshù Çiçek. 5th Nov. 2017. Photograph by Gewargis Acis.

Display of clothing and objects associated with Bishop Mor Julius Yeshù Çiçek. 5th Nov. 2017. Photograph by Gewargis Acis.

Sunday 5th November: The last few days have seen some interesting events and developments at the TRC. As seen from a previous blog, we had a donation of a christening gown dating from 1947. It is embroidered with the names of 17 babies who had been christened in the gown. An item about it was also put on the TRC’s facebook page and many people have seen the item and reacted to it.

Saturday and Sunday saw a new development at the TRC, namely a two-day course on the identification of lace and its many different forms and types. The course was given by Olga Ieromina, one of the TRC volunteers and a dedicated lace maker and responsible for the TRC’s collection of lace. More details about the course will come online shortly.

In the meantime Willem and I have been hard at work at the Syriac Monastery in Glane, in the east of the Netherlands. We have been helping the community to prepare a display about the previous Syriac bishop, called Mor Julius Yeshù Çiçek, who died in 2007 and who had a strong influence then, and indeed now, on the monastery and the people associated with it. Saturday was spent getting the final details of the exhibition in order, text boards hung, podiums and stands covered, objects in order (especially three outfits worn by the bishop) and finally getting the object descriptions written and translated into Dutch and English. Two showcases for the display were provided by the Volkenkunde Museum, Leiden.

Read more: Syriac Orthodox display opened

   

Christening gown with a rich history

Christening gown from 1947 made from parachute silk, embroidered with the names of seventeen young children who were baptised in the gown, between 1947 and 2013.

Christening gown from 1947 made from parachute silk, embroidered with the names of seventeen young children who were baptised in the gown, between 1947 and 2013.

Today the TRC received a very special new acquisition for the collection: it is a christening gown from the Netherlands, which was made in 1947 from parachute silk that the grandfather of the baby had acquired during the war.  He had three daughters, and each of them got part of the silk cloth. Two sisters used it to make themselves a blouse, the third to make the christening gown for her first child. Not an easy thing to do, because the gown had to be made from a bias cut length of material with a diagonal seam across the middle of the gown. In order to hide that seam, the young mother embroidered along the seam the name, date of birth and place of birth of her little daughter. Later she added the date of the christening, the name and place of the church, the name of the vicar and the Bible text of the christening.

The christening gown was used many times in the family, and each time the name of the baby and all other details were embroidered onto the gown. And after seventeen babies the gown is almost completely covered. The last name to be added is dated the 12th March 2013, for a baptism in the town of Harderwijk.

 

Read more: Christening gown with a rich history

   

Strengthening the TRC archives and research facilities

Girl with child from Walcheren in Zeeland, in the southwestern part of the Netherlands, in local costume. Photograph was taken in 1929.

Girl with child from Walcheren in Zeeland, in the southwestern part of the Netherlands, in local costume. Photograph was taken in 1929.

The TRC Leiden has just been given a small photo album that dates from 1929. It depicts daily life in Zeeland just before the Second World War. A way of life, including many of the garment types that have now vanished. The album includes 39 photographs taken during the holiday of Mr and Mrs N.G.J Schouwenburg from Amsterdam. They and their young daughter, Gera, then aged one, were in Zutphen in Overijssel, in the East of the Netherlands, and in Oostkapelle in Zeeland (in the south) for a holiday. It would appear that they were part of the vicars and elders associated with the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederlands Hervormde Kerk), as they stayed with Mr. van Paassen (Zutphen) and Mr. Gijsman (Oostkapelle), both of whom were vicars of that particular Protestant denomination. The album contains both family images of the Schouwenburgs and Gera (she regularly appears in the photographs).

With respect to the TRC interest in dress and identity, the images in this album present a fascinating glimpse of life for a middle class urban family (the ladies are wearing some wonderful cloche hats), who were clearly interested in the regional dress still worn on a daily basis by men, women and children in Zeeland.  We are now working hard on identifying all of the regional dress forms represented in the photographs.

These photographs can be found at the TRC Digital Collection under the numbers 2017.3322 (a-z, and za-zo), or by typing in Schouwenburg. One of the aims of the TRC is to present online a range of photographs and other images relating to textile and dress history from around the world. If you have any photographs that you know the date, place and perhaps even the people depicted, and you would be willing to donate to them TRC can you please let us know at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Many thanks!

Gillian Vogelsang, 31st October 2017

   

National Silk Art Museum, Weston, Missouri, USA

Stevengraph showing Queen Victoria, woven in Coventry (England) in 1841.

Stevengraph showing Queen Victoria, woven in Coventry (England) in 1841.

I first became interested in Stevengraphs after the TRC acquired several examples (see TRC 2013.0419 and 2013.0462 via the TRC’s digital collection). Stevengraphs are pictures woven from silk. Originally in shimmering white, silver and black threads, designers later used coloured silks to create pictures. Stevengraphs are named after the English weaver, Thomas Stevens, who developed the process.

Stevens began producing silk bookmarks and greeting cards in the 1860s, using mechanical looms and punch cards. These affordable silk pictures became very popular in Victorian England, and gradually became larger and more detailed. It was a delight, then, to discover a museum dedicated to Stevengraphs.

The National Silk Art Museum in Weston, Missouri (USA) has some 300 silk pictures on display, ranging from small souvenirs of various World Fairs, to portraits of celebrities and royalty, to large reproductions of paintings by Rembrandt, Goya and Raphael. There is also a special display of embroidered post cards of World War I, similar to those in the TRC collection. The majority of the pictures, especially ones depicting religious or sporting scenes, are from France, not England, produced by firms such as Neyret Freres.

The exhibition opens with a display (post cards, photographs and stereoscope slides) on the history of silk production, with an emphasis on 19th century American involvement in silk. In 1603, silk worm eggs and mulberry seeds were sent to the British colony of Virginia, by order of the English king, in the hope of establishing a silk industry that could compete with French and Italian silk production. Crops like tobacco and indigo, however, proved more commercially successful. There were many silk mills, mostly in the eastern USA, during the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th.

Stevengraph showing Joan of Arc.

Stevengraph showing Joan of Arc.

In the 1830s there was a get-rich-quick craze (similar to the 17th century ‘tulip mania’ in the Netherlands), which involved planting hectares of mulberry trees in order to raise silk worms. The craze ended in failure, and most American mills imported raw silk from elsewhere.

The collection of the National Silk Art Museum began as a sort of craze, too, according to the curator John Pottie, who has put together the collection. “I collected sports memorabilia. In 1980 I bought a small engraving of French billiard players. When I got it home I realized it was silk, not an engraving.” Pottie fell in love with the way silk pictures change in light. “It’s almost as if they are breathing,” he said. Everything about Stevengraphs, from the way they look to the way they are produced, fascinates him. It is easy to see why after seeing the collection on display.

Shelley Anderson, 25th October 2017

   

Modest clothing

Mormon modest clothing for a temple visit, Utah (US).

Mormon modest clothing for a temple visit, Utah (US).

Earlier this year, the British BBC reported on an unexpected but growing fashion trend: modest clothing. While reporters found many different ideas about what constituted modest clothing, there was agreement that the trend is being fueled by younger Muslim women who do not want to compromise either their faith or their sense of self-expression through what they wear.

But modest fashion, with dress hemlines below the knee and higher necklines, is also important to many other people. Among these are members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormons), a Christian religious group that began in the USA in the 19th century. There are approximately 15 million Mormons around the world today, with over half living in the US. “Our bodies are sacred, so we need to clothe it appropriately,” one American Mormon told me. “We dress modestly in order to not call attention to ourselves. This means not exposing our bodies, so no see-through or sheer clothing, but also not wearing loud colours. I think it boils down to showing respect for myself and my body.”

Both Mormon men and women should dress modestly, she said. “In an everyday situation you probably won’t be able to spot an LDS member. Maybe at the beach, because men would wear longer swim trunks, and women would be in a one piece bathing suits—no bikinis.” Clothing worn to Sunday church services is mostly a personal “matter of taste,” she continued. “I have a long red dress. It’s modest, but I don’t wear it to church because it’s loud.”

Mormons who are initiated and make additional spiritual commitments also go to a temple. The clothing worn to temple must be all white, which symbolizes purity. Women wear white dresses with long sleeves, which are either mid-calf or ankle length, and white shoes. Men wear white suits and ties and white shoes. Larger temples may rent out this clothing, which is considered sacred, or believers can buy the clothes at LDS clothing centres.

Other clothing that is considered sacred is special underwear. Called ‘garments’, these are available at LDS clothing centres only for Mormons who have made certain personal commitments. “Garments remind us of the spiritual promises we have made. They’re sacred. The only time you don’t wear them is in the shower, or swimming, or when you are being intimate.” Garments are always white—except in the case of Mormon military personnel. The LDS and the US military have agreed that Mormon service members can wear camouflage garments.

While I was allowed to photograph the modest clothing for sale at a LDS clothing centre in Utah, I was not allowed to photograph the sacred garments.

Shelley Anderson, 8th October 2017

   

Page 3 of 35

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: For a few sacks more ...., until 28th June

facebook 2015 logo detail

 

 

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: