TRC Blog: Textile Moments

A Russian ribbon with a history

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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.

Lees meer: A Russian ribbon with a history

   

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

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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 (I am talking about the clothes). 

Lees meer: About André Rieu, Volendam, and American GI's.

   

TRC object on display in American museum

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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.

   

501(c)(3)

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For many of us, the code 501(c)(3) means nothing, but in the US it is very important, it means that financial and object donations to a registered charity can be tax deductable for American tax payers.

From May 2019, the Textile Research Centre, Leiden (TRC Leiden) and the Tracing Patterns Foundation, Berkeley (TPF) will be working together to raise funds for textile studies and textile craftspeople worldwide.

The Tracing Patterns Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural organisation based in California and headed by textile scholar and curator Dr. Sandra Sardjono. All financial and object donations made through the TPF are tax deductible for US tax payers.

Lees meer: 501(c)(3)

   

New materials for the Encyclopaedia of Embroidery

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Detail of an Elizabethan (late 16th century) British embroidery (Cotsen collection, Los Angeles).

Detail of an Elizabethan (late 16th century) British embroidery (Cotsen collection, Los Angeles).

On Sunday, 28th April, Gillian Vogelsang writes:

My recent trip to Los Angeles was also intended to help with the TRC/Bloomsbury series about the history of world embroidery (the first volume came out in 2016, another on Central Asian, Iranian Plateau and Indian sub-continent embroidery will be available within 12 months).

I was invited by Lyssa Stapleton of the Cotsen Family Foundation to see an amazing group of embroideries. These form part of the Cotsen textile collection that will shortly be leaving LA for their new home in The Textile Museum, Washington D.C. They are to be the core of a new textile study centre that is going to be opened later this year.

I was able to examine a group of medieval embroideries, as well some fantastic 17th century English stumpwork and more ‘normal’ embroidery (tent stitch). We hope to study these embroideries in greater detail in due course.

Central and Eastern Europe were not forgotten, as the Fowler Museum has a wonderful collection of textiles and outfits from this part of the world. Marla Berns, the Director of the Fowler Museum, has very kindly agreed to allow me the use of their collection and to provide high resolution photographs of the objects for use in the relevant volume.

Two developments that mean that the Encyclopaedia of Embroidery series is going to be really well illustrated, which is so important for texitle and embroidery lovers!

   

Los Angeles, 21-28 April 2019

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Entrance to the Fowler Museum and exhibition, with in the centre a poster of the 'Dressed with Distinction' exhibition.

Entrance to the Fowler Museum and exhibition, with in the centre a poster of the 'Dressed with Distinction' exhibition.

On Sunday, 28 April, Gillian Vogelsang writes:

I have just spent a very busy week in Los Angeles, US, working at the Fowler Museum, UCLA, and talking with textile enthusiasts and visiting various collections, museums and art gallaries. In particular, thanks to the kindness of David and Elizabeth Reisbord, I also went to the amazing Huntington Gardens and Galleries and had High Tea in the Rose Garden.

One very unusual aspect of the trip was that David and Elizabeth currently have two exhibitions running, about very diverse groups of textiles originally from their private collection, at two different LA venues. There is a Central Asian ikat exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) called 'Power of Pattern‘ (curated by Clarissa Esguerra) and the 'Dressed with Distinction' exhibition at the Fowler Museum, about Ottoman Syrian clothing.

My trip was the culmination of several years of work by various members of the Fowler Museum, co-ordinated by curator Joanne Barrkman, with David and Elizabeth Reisbord and myself. The project revolved around a donation of some Ottoman Syrian garments to the museum by David Reisbord. They included items of attire from the late 19th century to the 1930’s.

The main focus of the collection is a range of abayas, which are cloak-like garments that are worn in both public and in private by men, women and children. The garments are on display in the Fowler Museum from the 17th March to the 18th August 2019. They also appear in a beautifully illustrated catalogue (with some amazing garment photographs taken by Don Cole), which will be available from June.

 
David and Elizabeth Reisbord, Los Angeles, April 2019.

David and Elizabeth Reisbord, Los Angeles, April 2019.

As part of the celebrations around the exhibition I was asked to give various presentations at the museum, including an informal talk for museum staff and a formal lecture on the 27th of April for a general audience. Over 150 people came to the lecture and many, understandably, were stunned by the beauty of the garments, but also very surprised about the long history of Syrian textile production, the international nature of the trade in raw materials, textiles and garments, and the sad fact that due to the current civil war in the country, this ancient tradition has probably come to an end. The events on Saturday ended with a reception in the Davis courtyard of the museum and a light buffet of Middle Eastern food. Perfect.

In addition to the activities surrounding the Ottoman Syrian garments, I was also asked on Wednesday (24th April) to give a talk about Levantine embroidery, namely the embroidery styles, techniques and uses from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and northern Egypt. I could talk about a colourful, surprising and stimulating range of embroideries (not that I am biased of course).

An unexpected bonus of seeing David and Elizabeth, is that David has very kindly given the TRC a selection of mainly Syrian textiles and garments. These items will really help in building up the Cultural Ark for Syrian textiles, which the TRC is actively engaged in building up. These and the other items given by David will be photographed and catalogued by the end of May and can be viewed via the TRC Online Collection. I would like to say a very big ‘Thank You’ to both David and Elizabeth for all their help and kindness to me, they are lovely people!

   

An indigo paradise in Taiwan

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View of one of the gardens at the Zhuo Ye Cottage indigo dyeing centre, in Miaoli, Taiwan.

View of one of the gardens at the Zhuo Ye Cottage indigo dyeing centre, in Miaoli, Taiwan.

Willem Vogelsang writes on Easter Sunday, 2019: For long I have been convinced that the Textile Research Centre in Leiden was absolutely unique in its combination of research, display and teaching. I was wrong, fortunately. I found a little textile paradise elsewhere in the world: Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Zhuo Ye Cottage, south of Taipei, in Taiwan, famous for its indigo dyeing centre.

This centre is beautifully located against the wooded flanks of a mountain ridge, and was built up since the early 2000s by a gifted couple, Mr ZUO Ming-Bang and his wife, ZHENG Mei-Shu.

It now includes a small picturesque village, but more importantly, it also includes a group of buildings that are used for indigo production and indigo dyeing. There is also ample space for workshops, and students and others who are interested can attend courses in various aspects of indigo dyeing. And all of it is surrounded by beautiful gardens and indigo fields. It really is an unique resort for the study of an ancient craft and tradition in Taiwan. 

Lees meer: An indigo paradise in Taiwan

   

Hirsch & Cie, and war-time textiles at the TRC Leiden

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War-time blouse sold by the firm of Hirsch & Cie, Amsterdam (TRC 2007.0885). The back of the garment, normally not visible, is made of a cheap material (net). The label with the name of the Jewish firm of Hirsch & Cie. was made illegible.

War-time blouse sold by the firm of Hirsch & Cie, Amsterdam (TRC 2007.0885). The back of the garment, normally not visible, is made of a cheap material (net). The label with the name of the Jewish firm of Hirsch & Cie. was made illegible.

In 2020 we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War 2 (1939-1945). As part of the research for a new exhibition about textiles and clothing made and worn during the war, the TRC has been looking into the fascinating history of the Dutch company of Hirsch & Cie, Amsterdam.

This line of research was suggested by the identification of two Hirsch & Cie garments in the TRC’s collection. The first is a blue silk dress with a hand embroidered collar (TRC 2007.0718), while the second is a blouse (TRC 2007.0885). Both garments date to the early 1940’s and were donated to the TRC by the family of Westerman Holstijn, who used to live in Leiden.

The item of particular interest is the blouse, because at first glance it looks normal – but it only has a front, the back is a piece of net. It dates to a period when textiles were scarce and many garments were still made of good cloth, but only at those places where the cloth was visible (such as the front of a blouse), but made of another material (in this case net) at places hidden by other garments.

But who was the company of Hirsch & Cie and what story can they tell about life during the war? The fashion house was named after its original founder, the Jewish entrepreneur, Leo Hirsch (1842-1906). The first establishment was in Brussels, followed by subsidiaries in Amsterdam, Cologne, Dresden and Hamburg. The company of Hirsch & Cie Amsterdam was founded in 1882 by Sylvain Kahn and his colleague Albert (Sally) Berg, who previously had worked together in the main subsidiary in Brussels.

Lees meer: Hirsch & Cie, and war-time textiles at the TRC Leiden

   

The TRC in the Skamania County Pioneer

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Gillian Vogelsang writes on 31st March:

The TRC has just received another box from Sherry Cook in Washington, USA, this time filled with eight quilts and 200 feedsack samples. There was also a copy of the Skamania County Pioneer newspaper, of Wednesday, March 13th, 2019. It contains an article entitled 'Quilters collection featured by Dutch textile museum.' The article tells the story of Sherry Cook's life-long interest in quilts and quilting, and how she came into contact with the Textile Research Centre along the Hogewoerd in Leiden. The article can be downloaded here.

   

Visit to Dubai

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Reem El Mutwalli (left) and Gillian Vogelsang (right), at the new Friday mosque of Abu Dhabi, Monday 18 March 2019.

Reem El Mutwalli (left) and Gillian Vogelsang (right), at the new Friday mosque of Abu Dhabi, Monday 18 March 2019.

On Wednesday, 20 March 2019, Gillian Vogelsang reports:

This weekend was spent with Willem, my husband, in Dubai. The main focus of the weekend was getting to know Dr. Reem El Mutwalli of the Zay initiative. She is an amazing, enthusiastic colleague with a passionate love and knowledge of textiles and dress from the Gulf region.

During the intense two-day meeting, some of the discussions took place in a car travelling between various venues, including going to the emirates of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi we had the chance to visit the beautiful Friday mosque (while the Abu Dhabi Louvre was closed ). We also attended an art gallery event and a preview of a Sotheby’s Islamic Art auction in Dubai. A representative of Skira Art Books, Milan, was present at the latter and we had a brief discussion with him about the TRC Collection and using it for art publications. They will be contacting the TRC shortly.

But back to the main themes of the visit. Dr. Reem is a very active business woman used to living within the art/cultural world, as well as being very used to move in both the Arab and European environments and she understands the differences (as well as explaining them). She will probably be coming in July 2019 to Leiden to help with the large TRC Asia Week, to coincide with the even larger ICAS Asian conference. The TRC will have a week of lectures and workshops during the conference, including at least one talk by Dr. Reem on Asian influences on Middle Eastern dress.

One of the many questions raised was concerned with how the Zay Initiative and the TRC could work together to raise international awareness of Arabian Peninsular dress. Various possibilities are being explored and as more details and information become available we will let you know. One thing that is clear: Another visit to Dubai is being planned, but perhaps not during the summer months, when we ‘ Northerners ‘ would simply wilt in the hot, humid conditions of the Gulf.

   

Visitors from Kyoto and Tokyo musums

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Dr. OYAMA Yuzuruha (Tokyo National Museum) and Dr. Melissa M. Rinne (Kyoto National Museum) visiting the TRC, Friday 15 March 2019.

Dr. OYAMA Yuzuruha (Tokyo National Museum) and Dr. Melissa M. Rinne (Kyoto National Museum) visiting the TRC, Friday 15 March 2019.

On Friday 15 March 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

We had two very interesting visitors to the TRC today, namely OYAMA Yuzuruha (Tokyo National Museum) and Melissa M. Rinne (Kyoto National Museum). They are on a study tour of various West European museums and private institutes as part of a much larger project to study pre-1939 Japanese textile and dress collections, including those that found their way to Europe.

They came to the TRC in order to see our current exhibition about velvet, and stayed for several hours to see what the TRC actually does (they were particularly taken with the Dutch lace caps), as well as to look at our collection of Japanese textiles and garments. They had a long discussion with Francesco Montuori, a TRC student, who is working on a MA about Japanese culture. He is also cataloguing the TRC’s collection of Japanese textiles and garments.

Various garments were brought out and discussed. We will be amending some of our catalogue entries based on what was said.

There was also an impromptu kimono folding session, which was really interesting and fun. Francesco is now seriously interested in the idea of staging an exhibition about Japanese garments and culture at the TRC. More news about this will be presented in due course.

Needless to say we are now looking for donations of Japanese textiles and garments and funding to stage such an exhibition in 2022 (which sounds a long way away, but it will soon come).

Both Francesco and I are looking forward to working with these colleagues from Japan in due course.

   

International Women's Day

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International Women's Day, 8 March 2019, Moniek van Sandick to the right, and Gillian Vogelsang to the left.

International Women's Day, 8 March 2019, Moniek van Sandick to the right, and Gillian Vogelsang to the left.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019, Gillian Vogelsang writes:

Last Friday, International Women's Day, the TRC had a surprise visit from Moniek van Sandick, who is running for the Provincial Council of Zuid-Holland at the forthcoming elections in The Netherlands. She handed me a large and exubriant bouquet of flowers. Moniek was one of the first volunteers at the TRC and continues to have a great interest in our activities. For a long time, she was a member of the municipal council of Leiden.

   

Leiden Mayor visits the TRC

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The Mayor of Leiden, Henri Lenferink

The Mayor of Leiden, Henri Lenferink

Friday, 8 March 2019, Gillian Vogelsang writes:

This morning saw a visit to the TRC by Henri Lenferink, the Mayor of Leiden. He had heard from various sources about the TRC and what we do and had decided to see exactly what was happening – and it was far more interesting than he had expected! The Mayor is an historian by training and quickly understood what the TRC was doing, the significance of the broad and diverse nature of the Collection and its online catalogue, and the importance of the stories behind the many objects housed there. It is clear: more and more people are listening to the language of dress and textiles.

Various items were shown to the Mayor, including the Leiden Hat, which dates to the late eighteenth century and was made in Leiden, and from the Second World War we showed him a feestrok that commemorates the liberation of Holland in 1945, and a handkerchief, with the embroidered names of female collaborators with the Germans, who had been interned in Stadskanaal (Groningen) in 1945. These two textiles represent two different stories about war-time Holland. The Mayor also admired some of the Nepalese textiles, which were donated on behalf of the late Susi Dunsmore by her executor.

The Mayor had checked out the TRC’s website, but as so often happens reading about the TRC and actually experiencing it are two different matters! The TRC is a valuable asset for Leiden, once described as a secret treasure trove, but one that is receiving more and more attention and is being recognised as a fantastic resource for a broad public, both in Leiden and elsewhere in the world. However, with the rapidly expanding collection and library, and the growing number of lectures, workshops, gallery exhibitions etc., the present premises are no longer sufficient, and more space is urgently needed. The Mayor noted our need for larger premises. We are in total agreement.

   

Collection of Nepalese textiles donated to TRC

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TRC colleagues going through the recent arrival of the Nepalese textiles.

TRC colleagues going through the recent arrival of the Nepalese textiles.

The TRC recently received a collection of Nepalese textiles, which were donated on behalf of the late Susi Dunsmore by her executor. The textiles were collected in Nepal from the 1980's to 2013. On Thursday morning (27th February 2019) the textiles and related items, including several looms, arrived at the TRC. A team from the TRC will spend the next month working on a basic catalogue and photographing all the items, and getting all the items online. A more detailed catalogue and an online exhibition will be coming in due course.

There are over 600 items in the collection, including raw fibres, spinning and weaving equipment, and samples of dyed, woven, embroidered and knitted textiles, as well as complete garments and headgear for men and women. There is, for example, a wide range of Himalayan nettle textiles in a variety of different weaves (including leno) and embroidered textiles carried out with orchid stem threads.

Lees meer: Collection of Nepalese textiles donated to TRC

   

Sunday, 24 February

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Gillian Vogelsang writes on Sunday 24 Fenruary:

Today has been quite a day. This morning we had a meeting of a hand knitting group working on samples for the sock exhibition to be held at the TRC in the autumn of 2019. These fanatic knitters come from all over the Netherlands to work on this exhibition and make it a comprensive story of hand knitted socks.

Then in the afternoon we staged a lecture about the embroidered and beaded garments from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Although textiles and garments are the largest group of objects from the tomb, they remain virtually invisible in comparison to the gold masks, chariots, chests, and so forth. The TRC has long been involved in cataloguing, describing and presenting information about these textiles.

This afternoon saw the TRC also looking to the future in the form of signing a MoU with The Zay Initiative, Dubai, and more specifically with its director, Dr. Reem El Mutwalli. The aim of this MoU is to share experiences, to work on mutal interests in Middle Eastern dress and more specifically, Arabian Peninsula dress and accessories, and helping with fund raising, publicity and educational programmes that will benefit everyone. Interesting days ahead.

   

Is fast fashion slowing dwn?

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On Sunday, 24 February 2019, TRC volunteer Alice Jaspars wites:

The world is moving quicker than ever before, and fashion is getting faster with it. It is now possible to buy an entire ensemble (shoes included) for under 20 euros from a high street retailer. But the environmental and societal cost of such an outfit is something which has reached increasing media attention, especially in the past weeks. With many pledging not to buy from the high street due to its lack of sustainability, 2019 seems to mark an interesting turning point in the way we consume our clothes.

There are two schools of thought with regards to being more environmentally and socially conscientious in fashion. The first is that which suggests that all new clothing produced ought to be procured from so-called ‘sustainable retailers’, those who ensure that all attire is made in the most environmentally friendly way possible, from the water used, to the way the machines are powered. These brands are often expensive, with t-shirts costing some 50 euros, and are often extremely limited in the styles they offer. This prohibits many from shopping sustainably in this manner.

The second school of thought, and the one I confess to following, is that which favours second hand clothing. From Kringloops to charity shops, these offer a cheaper and arguably more effective way to shop in a sustainable manner. It is estimated that by 2022 some 40% of our wardrobes will consist of second hand material, a reason to be hopeful. With the average t-shirt going for a euro a piece, there seems little reason to stray anywhere else. There are also far more opportunities to invest in quality pieces, and well-known brands, with my own wardrobe being aided by pieces from Burberry, YSL and Hermes (to name but a few), all second hand. Besides – it’s far more fun this way. Nothing will ever feel as good as being able to say ‘This, oh, it’s vintage’.

   

Robert J. Charleston letters

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TRC volunteer, Alice Jaspars, studying the Robert Charleston correspondence housed in the TRC library (February 2019).

TRC volunteer, Alice Jaspars, studying the Robert Charleston correspondence housed in the TRC library (February 2019).

On Sunday, 24 February 2019, Alice Jaspars wrote:

Robert J. Charleston (1916-1994) was one of the leading experts on glass in the United Kingdom and was Keeper of Glass and Ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The current archive of Charleston’s letters stored at the TRC Leiden details his lesser known passion for textiles, with correspondence both to and from him. His letters detail an interest in pursuing a PhD in the subject of the archaeology of textiles, though unfortunately this never came to fruition. 

I have transcribed some thirty letters of Charleston now, most pertaining to his desire to publish a particular article during the Second World War, but facing issues due to paper rationing. The style and content of his letters make the transcription far more of pleasure than a task.

Thanks to the TRC’s director, Dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, we are now privileged to have this extensive correspondence between Charleston and other prominent figures, from the early 1940s onwards.

The archive is exceptional as we have both the letters written to, and the letters from Charleston, in almost perfect and precise chronological order. Having transcribed only a fraction of his letters thus far, it is clear that Charleston exhibits a tremendous intellect, ranging from assorted types of fabric, to the way in which he interacts with various well-known academics of textiles of the day.

Whilst I have only been able to transcribe a portion of the letters to date, I hope to use them as a basis for considering the ways in which relevant individuals from the time interacted with one another, and the way in which the knowledge of the time was developed into more personal correspondence such as these.

I will keep the blog up to date with any work of particular interest or of note.

   

A remarkable woman

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 British postage stamp with embroidery motif of oranges and orange blossom, designed and worked by May Morris (TRC 2018.3365).

British postage stamp with embroidery motif of oranges and orange blossom, designed and worked by May Morris (TRC 2018.3365).

Shelley Anderson writes on Saturday 23 February 2019:

A recent acquisition of the TRC sent me scurrying to the Internet to find out more. The object was a small (3.5 x 3.5 cm) British postal stamp with an image of a beautifully embroidered orange branch with flowers and fruit (TRC 2018.3365). The stamp also has the text “Mary 'May' Morris 1862-1938. Designer and textile artist". May Morris had designed and executed the image, from silks on a linen background, in the 1880s.

Mary ‘May’ Morris was the youngest daughter of Arts and Crafts movement leader and designer William Morris. She had an unconventional childhood and was taught embroidery by her mother and her aunt. She also studied embroidery at art school and at the age of 23 became the Director of the Embroidery Department at her father's business. She was an able manager and designer, in addition to her own considerable skills in needlework, creating both ecclesiastical and household objects.

She researched older styles of embroidery, in particular the famous medieval needlework of England (Opus Anglicanum), in order to develop a more free-style fine technique which came to be known as art needlework. Later in life she taught embroidery at art schools throughout England, including the Royal School of Art Needlework (now the Royal School of Needlework), mentoring many other women who later established their own names in embroidery. In 1907, when guilds such as the Art Workers Guild refused to accept women, she founded a new association, the Women’s Guild of Arts.

As if this were not enough, she also made a name for herself as a designer, creating designs for jewellery, wall paper, textiles and more. Concerned about the status of women and workers, she was an active socialist all her life. In her later years she collected and published 24 volumes of her father’s works, thus securing his name in history, in addition to writing her own books and plays. She lived the last few decades of her life with a woman companion in a home designed in the Arts and Crafts style. “I’m a remarkable woman,” she wrote in 1936 to her ex-lover, playwright George Bernard Shaw, “always was, though none of you seemed to think so.” A remarkable woman indeed, who is finally getting the credit she deserves.

   

Two Chinese dolls

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Chinese male doll, 1920s or 1930s (TRC 2019.0194).

Chinese male doll, 1920s or 1930s (TRC 2019.0194).

Saturday, 9 February 2019. TRC volunteer Francesco Montuori writes:

Last week, the Textile Research Centre enriched its collection with two interesting pieces: a couple of wooden Chinese dolls.

Normally the TRC does not take dolls but there was something about them that was intriguing. They came with the information that they dated to about 1900 and were intended to be used for funeral purposes.

One of the dolls is male (TRC 2019.0194) and dressed in Chinese style garments, including an embroidered gown in violet silk decorated with an embroiderd vase of flowers and a typical black silk cap (see for example TRC 2004.0087) on his head.

The second doll is female (TRC 2019.0195) and also has an embroidered gown in tangerine orange silk and decorated with flowers and butterflies. She is also wearing a large collar edged with fur. Her face covered in white make-up and she has prominent red lips. Her headdress is quite elaborate.

Chinese female doll, 1920s or 1930s (TRC 2019.0195).

Chinese female doll, 1920s or 1930s (TRC 2019.0195).

This type of doll is usually known in the Western world as a ‘Chinese Opera Doll’, although it would seem that they were not related with opera theatre at all. Instead it would appear that such dolls were associated with the many orphanages opened by various Christian missions in China. In fact, in the 18th and 19th centuries, numerous missionary associations from Northern America and Europe were active in the country to promulgate Christianity.

Among their initiatives was the establishment of many orphanages, in order to host abandoned or orphaned children in major cities of the country, such as Shanghai. The dolls were given to girls in the orphanages who crafted their dresses and embroidered them, in order to raise money for the maintenance of the orphanage itself.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of information about these two dolls, it is difficult to allocate them to a specific city or missionary activity. What is clear is that more research needs to be carried out to understand the economic and social history of this ‘small’ aspect of Chinese material culture.

   

Scandinavian doll?

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Doll in regional dress, probably mid-19th century, from Scandinavia? (TRC 2019.0196).

Doll in regional dress, probably mid-19th century, from Scandinavia? (TRC 2019.0196).

Friday 8th February, Gillian Vogelsang writes:

Often the TRC is asked if we know what this is or where does that come from, and many times we can help out. We now have a little puzzle for you!

We have recently been given a doll dressed in regional dress. The head and hands are made out of carved wood that has been hand painted, while the body, arms and legs are made out of stuffed cloth. The headdress is elaborately made with various different types of cloth.

The front and back of her dress are embroidered, and she has a large bag with a crucifix hanging from her left waist. Under her dress there is a petticoat and drawers made out of white cotton decorated with bobbin lace. Her shoes are in the style of 18th century slippers with metal buckles.

We think that the doll may date from c. 1860, based on the textiles, and that it may possibly come from Scandinavia. Does anyone know where she comes from? Any suggestions are welcome.

   

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Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428  info@trc-leiden.nl

Openingstijden: Maandag tot/met donderdag, van 10.00 tot 16.00 uur. Andere dagen alleen volgens afspraak.

Bankrekening: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59

Toegang gratis, maar een vrijwillige bijdrage is zeer welkom.

TRC Gallery tentoonstelling, 22 jan. - 27 juni 2019: Fijn fluweel!

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Financiële giften

The TRC is afhankelijk van project-financiering en privé-donaties. Al ons werk wordt verricht door vrijwilligers. Ter ondersteuning van de vele activiteiten van het TRC vragen wij U daarom om financiële steun:

Giften kunt U overmaken op bankrekeningnummer NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, t.n.v. Stichting Textile Research Centre.

Omdat het TRC officieel is erkend als een Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling (ANBI), en daarbij ook nog als een Culturele Instelling, zijn particuliere giften voor 125% aftrekbaar van de belasting, en voor bedrijven zelfs voor 150%. Voor meer informatie, klik hier

Voor het overmaken van giften, kunt U ook gebruik maken van Paypal:


Abonneer u op de TRC Nieuwsbrief