TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Munich students visit TRC

Group of students from Munich visiting TRC, Friday, 4th January 2019.

Group of students from Munich visiting TRC, Friday, 4th January 2019.

Friday, 4th January 2019: Gillian Vogelsang writes:

Yesterday we received an email from Laurin Stöckert about a group of students from a student association of Near Eastern Archeology based at Ludwigs-Maximilan-University Munich (Germany). They are visiting Amsterdam and Leiden for a few days and will be visiting some departments of Leiden University as well as various museums.

Laurin asked if it was possible for them to come to the TRC to talk about archaeology, role of textiles and dress, etc. There were students ranging from first-year BA to PhD levels. Fortunately I was at the TRC on Friday morning (adminstration....) and was able to welcome them. The group stayed for two hours and we discussed and described the work of the TRC, the reason for the (active/holding) collection, and the meaning of Dress and Identity, both past and present. It was a really enthousiastic and fun group with lots of good questions and a feel for textiles and dress! If they are representative of the next generation of Middle Eastern archaeologists then there is a lot of hope for textiles. What a wonderful start to 2019!


American Quilts: 200 years of dedicated recycling

Modern American quilt with scalloped edge. Size: 234 x 204 cm (TRC 2018.3133).

Modern American quilt with scalloped edge. Size: 234 x 204 cm (TRC 2018.3133).

Sunday, 30th December 2018: Gillian Vogelsang, director TRC, announces a new exhibition at the TRC, to be opened in February 2020.

Almost four hundred years ago, in 1620, a group of 102 English Protestant Puritans left the town of Leiden where they had found refuge some ten years before, and sailed via Plymouth in England, on board the Mayflower, to Massachusetts in America. The Pilgrim Fathers, as they were to be called, are traditionally regarded as the founders of the United States. A daughter of two of the Pilgrims, namely Myles and Barbara Standish, has become famous for producing the first extant embroidery sampler in the USA, commonly known as the Loara Standish sampler. For more information on this physical link between Leiden and the Pilgrims, see the entry in TRC Needles.

To mark the 400-year anniversary of the Massachusetts settlement, in 2020, Leiden is organising the Mayflower 400 programme with a series of exhibitions, theatre productions, sports meetings, and many other events. For more information, see

As part of the Mayflower 400 programme, the Textile Research Centre (TRC) in Leiden will be setting up an exhibition and series of workshops about two hundred years of American quilt making. This has been made possible by the recent donation of over fifty American quilts and quilt tops by Mrs. Sherry Cook and others. Examples of quilts dating from the 1830’s to the present day will be on display. A series of lectures on (American) quilts and quilt making will accompany the exhibition. There will also be practical workshops, during which various technical aspects of quilting will be explored.

The exhibition is being organised in conjunction with Sherry Cook from Washington state, USA; Susan Cave (New Zealand/The Hague) and Beverley Bennett (UK/The Hague).


Ties to history. A new TRC exhibition for 2020

Statue from the tomb of the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang (died c. 210 BC) of a terracotta soldier with neckband. In the background a tie label from President Donald Trump's fashion line of ties (coincidentally made in China).

Statue from the tomb of the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang (died c. 210 BC) of a terracotta soldier with neckband. In the background a tie label from President Donald Trump's fashion line of ties (coincidentally made in China).

TRC volunteer, Loren Mealey, writes on Thursday, 3 January 2019:

In our twenty-first century, fashion appears to change every week. A man’s necktie, however, is an accessory that has endured social and cultural transformations for hundreds of years.

The traditional Western necktie has ancient antecedents and forms. The earliest representation of a piece of cloth or another material tied around the neck is a cloth worn by the first emperor of China, Shih Huan Ti, who died in 210 BC.  The accessory was depicted in his mausoleum in Xian, along with 7000 images of his warriors, meticulously carved in terracotta, and each wearing a neck cloth.

In Europe the large ruffs worn by men and women from the mid-sixteenth century for over a hundred years became iconic items in paintings of royalty and affluent merchants. Then came bandanas, bands, bolos, cravats, steinkirks, rabats, ties and all sorts of variations. But from ancient China to the red carpet of fashion shows, this men's wear accessory is consistently associated with identity, power and status.

Read more: Ties to history. A new TRC exhibition for 2020


Black and gold dissent collar

Package containing miniature Black and Gold Dissent Collar, USA 2018 (TRC 2018.3367).

Package containing miniature Black and Gold Dissent Collar, USA 2018 (TRC 2018.3367).

TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson tells:

A recent donation to the TRC reflects some very interesting social history. The object is a small gold plated necklace (TRC 2018.3367), sold on the internet by a group called Dissent Pins. It is a stylized version of a black and gold jabot (a detachable collar, usually of lace) worn by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court.

Appointed in 1993 Ginsburg was only the second woman appointed to the US Supreme Court. She joined Sandra Day O’Connor on the nine-member court. Both women realized they had a problem. "I didn't know anybody who made robes for women justices, and I think most of what was available was something like a choir robe or an academic robe," O’Connor said. She decided to wear a black robe that she had worn earlier as a judge.

She was criticized for looking like a “washed-out judge” and for not wearing some sort of judicial collar underneath the robe. "You know, the standard robe is made for a man because it has a place for the shirt to show, and the tie," Ginsburg said. "So Sandra Day O'Connor and I thought it would be appropriate if we included as part of our robe something typical of a woman. So I have many, many collars."

Justice Ginsburg now owns dozens of jabots that she wears with her robe. She is given them as gifts, such as the French lace jabot gifted by the University of Hawaii, decorated with beads from a beach; or the white tatted jabot made by an admirer, who proudly published Ginsburg’s thank-you on the Internet. Her favourite is a simple white beaded collar from Cape Town, South Africa.

The 83-year-old Justice, known for her strong feminist legal opinions, is also famous because her collars are not just accessories. When she is giving a majority opinion she wears a light yellow collar, given to her by her law clerks. Her ‘dissent collar’, when she takes a stand against the majority opinion, is a black and gold embellished jabot. She wore this to Court the day after Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016. This made her even more of a popular icon.

Her ‘dissent’ collar has been made into enamel pins and stickers, like that in the TRC collection; she’s been the subject of films, comedy skits and a rap song. Wearing a version of her black robe and lace collar is popular as a Halloween costume across the US, with its own Instagram account (#notoriousrbg).

Monday, 10 December 2018


Changes in the TRC Board

Prof. Lammert Leertouwer, painted by Marike Bok.

Prof. Lammert Leertouwer, painted by Marike Bok.

Gillian Vogelsang, director TRC, writes on 15th December 2018:

At the last meeting of the board of the Textile Research Centre, on Friday 14th December 2018, the chairmanship was passed on from Prof. Lammert Leertouwer to Prof. Barend ter Haar Romeny. Lammert Leertouwer, the former Rector Magnificus of Leiden University, has led the board from 2006 onwards and has been an invaluable help in the building up and rapid expansion of the TRC. Our heartfelt thanks to Prof. Leertouwer for all his support over the years. Fortunately, he has not resigned from the Board, and we hope that he will remain involved and keep giving us his advice for many years to come.

The chairmanship has been taken over by Prof. Bas ter Haar Romeny, who already was a board member of the TRC and who is Professsor of Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern History, Free University, Amsterdam.




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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. Holidays: until 11 August

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59, Stichting Textile Research Centre

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

TRC Gallery exhibition: 5 Sept. -19 Dec. 2019: Socks&Stockings

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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
Financial donations to the TRC can also be made via Paypal: 

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