TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Little treasure box

Early 19th century embroidery. TRC Collection

Early 19th century embroidery. TRC Collection

We have just had a little 'wow' moment at the TRC. As so often happens here, someone has popped in with some potential donations for the collection. We love these moments as we are never sure what will appear. Well, this time it was a small embroidered box, with four embroidered ovals inside. One of the ovals had the word bruid ('bride') and another bruidegom ('bridegroom') embroidered on to them. It turns out they were used in a marriage in 1827! And then re-used for a wedding in 1903.

What exactly they were used for is not certain, but the size of the ovals does suggest that they might have been used for wedding rings. The embroidery is worked in floss silk and silk chemille thread, with applied, 3-dimensional flowers in very fine silk; all stitched onto a satin silk ground. The box lid is also decorated in the same manner, although sadly it is now in a much poorer condition. What memories and stories are stored in these pieces!

Gillian Vogelsang, 11 November 2014



European Art Quilt VIII Exhibition, Enschede

This weekend Mariet Portheine and I went to see the European Art Quilt VIII exhibition at the Twentsewelle Museum, Enschede, and especially to admire the display of appliqué panels made by various craftsmen from the Street of the Tentmakers, Cairo. The colours and techniques of these Egyptian panels are very seductive, and I said I would not buy anymore but….. There were a few more designs that fit into the TRC’s ‘Street’ exhibition that opens on 4th January (2015) and they will look amazing. The European Art Quilt exhibition was thought provoking, as again it raised the question as to where is the line between a quilt (two or more layers of cloth sewn together, traditionally used for clothing and bed covers, etc) and textile art? Most of the pieces on display were definitely leaning towards Art rather than Quilt. There were some (quilt) pieces that personally I found really attractive, such as one depicting the night sky and another entitled 'snowflakes on a bed'. Many of the items, however, have travelled very far from the concept of quilt. Worth while seeing because it was so thought provoking. The quilt exhibition opened on the 27th September and will run until the 4th January 2015, when the TRC will open its 'own' exhibition of Egyptian panels. For more information, please click here.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 29 October 2014


Back in Cairo

Cairo can be a dangerous place, and I am not just talking about the cars, pavements and pollution! I am in Cairo for a few days to attend various meetings (more about that later), but I could not miss the chance yesterday for a 'quick' visit to the Street of the Tentmakers and to see more of the beautiful appliqué panels they make there. Everytime I go there I think now we have enough for the special exhibition that opens at the TRC in January about the Cairo appliqués, and then someone says, we have a new design..... Fatal.

Gillian at al-Farouk in the Street of the Tentmakers, Cairo.

Gillian at al-Farouk in the Street of the Tentmakers, Cairo.

I was there to pick up a few panels that had been previously ordered and, all being well, I shall be going back to Cairo in December (for another meeting, but in Aswan, life can be so hard sometimes). Then I shall be doing the big shop for thimbles, scissors, thread, cloth and more panels of various sizes. Many of these will be for sale in the TRC shop during the period of the exhibition. The Street needs help as there are less and less tourists going to Egypt, but this is one way we can help them, while being inspired to greater and more colourful things at home!

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 3 October 2014


An unexpected visit to the TRC of two Japanese ladies

Today, we had one of those moments at the TRC. Two Japanese ladies in kimono came to see our weaving exhibition. One of the ladies had been before, and this time she brought a friend. They live in the Leiden region, and love any excuse to wearing their unique garments. Coming to the TRC was a special moment for them, and a Textile Moment for us. They looked wonderful ! I learned a lot about kimonos from them, especially the difference between the kimono's crest (at the kimono's back) of the husband's family, and that of the wife's.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 9 September 2014

Two Japanese ladies in kimono at the TRC, September 9th 2014

Two Japanese ladies in kimono at the TRC, September 9th 2014



A Mongolian Buddhist monastery

The Amarbayasgalant monastery, northern Mongolia. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang, August 2014

The Amarbayasgalant monastery, northern Mongolia. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang, August 2014

Well, I am back in Holland, but only a few days ago I had the chance to visit a Buddhist monastery in the north of Mongolia. It is the Amarbayasgalant khiid (monastery), in Selenge Province. It was founded in the early 18th century, and to some degree survived the destruction of almost all Buddhist centres in the Stalinist era. What I particularly liked were the many prayer flags hung along ropes between the various pinnacles of the buildings, a very Tibetan spectacle! And then there were the blue khatags, or prayer scarves, that were attached everywhere. The Tibetan prayer scarves are generally white, and seem to be used differently. Here in Mongolia they are attached to trees, cairns, stakes, stupas, etc. You see them everywhere. In fact, I was graciously presented with one at the end of the conference we had organised (now of course being absorbed into the TRC collection). They are generally blue, and are of course very reminiscent of comparable pieces of textiles that pilgrims in many countries leave behind. I know the custom so well from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India, but there they are used to confirm certain wishes, as for instance by women who pray for children. In Mongolia the blue khatags represent heaven and the blue skies of Mongolia (see the photograph), and thus seem to reflect the old shamanistic belief system of Tengri ('heaven'). Perhaps a new research area for the TRC: the use of textiles in religious rituals?

Willem Vogelsang, 16 August 2014

Blue prayer scarves attached to the Amarbayasgalant Khiid (Buddhist monastery), northern Mongolia. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang, August 2014.

Blue prayer scarves attached to the Amarbayasgalant Khiid (Buddhist monastery), northern Mongolia. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang, August 2014.


Page 31 of 35


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

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




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: