TRC Blog: Textile Moments

The Feestrok, again

Photograph showing Mrs. Boissevain and a Feestrok, January 1949 (TRC 2018.3323).

Photograph showing Mrs. Boissevain and a Feestrok, January 1949 (TRC 2018.3323).

The TRC recently received a photograph that was taken in New York in January 1949 and shows Mrs. Adrienne M. (Mies) Boissevain - van Lennep (1896-1965). She was the driving force behind the campaign, set up after the war, for Dutch women to make and wear patchwork skirts that symbolised the liberation of the country from German occupation. In January 1949 she embarked on a lecture tour in the USA. In the photograph she proudly shows an example of a Feestrok.

One of these 'Feestrokken' is housed in the TRC collection (TRC 2011.0001a), and in the past the TRC has paid ample attention to the Feestrok and its symbolic meaning. The British journal Selvedge published an article on the subject in June 2018 (download here). The photograph adds another dimension to the visual story of the Feestrok as presented by the TRC. See also an article in TRC Needles (download here).

The back of the photograph carries the following text:

"Dutch woman to lecture for world peace. New York: Mrs. Adrienne M. Boissevain, founder of the National Skirt, a women's organization in Holland whose members wear patchwork skirts as symbol of unity and world harmony, arrives aboard liner Westerdam, Jan. 17. Her home in Amsterdam served as underground headquarters during German occupation. She is in U.S. for lecture tour, as part of crusade for world peace. She lost her husband at Buchenwald."

   

Clothes Make the Nation

National festive women's costume designed mid-19th century by the Icelandic painter, Sigurdur Gudmundsson.

National festive women's costume designed mid-19th century by the Icelandic painter, Sigurdur Gudmundsson.

Shelley Anderson, TRC volunteer, recently visited Iceland. On Sunday, 21st October, she writes:

A visit to the National Museum of Iceland  in Reykjavik is a must for anyone who loves textiles. While there is no specific section devoted to textiles, the museum’s third floor houses the permanent exhibition “Making of a Nation: Heritage and History of Iceland”. Some beautiful examples of costumes, altar frontals, ecclesiastical clothing and domestic textiles are scattered throughout this display.

Two costumes struck me in particular, as they illustrate the close connection between dress and identity. The first is a pre-1860 ensemble that was considered the national festive dress for women. Called faldbuningur, it includes a high white headdress with a multicoloured silk kerchief; another silk neckchief (dated to 1780-1800); a jacket worn over a sleeveless bodice, both of black, woollen broadcloth with embroidered borders; a velvet belt, with a large white handkerchief in drawn thread technique hanging from it; and a blue broadcloth skirt and apron.

Read more: Clothes Make the Nation

   

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

   

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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.
 
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