On Tuesday, 31 March 2020, Gillian Vogelsang writes:
We have just had a question about the first textile that was donated to the TRC Collection. Well, the first group of textiles (66 items) were donated by Willem and me and were given because of a desperate need for actual textiles and garments for students to work with. They were mainly Afghan and Middle Eastern items picked up during our work and travels in various countries. As a result, since its conception in 1997 the TRC Collection has been regarded as a handling and teaching collection.
The first donation (TRC 1997.0067) 'from outside' was made by Toos Roosen - van Gils (Leiden). It was also a wonderful example of textile serendipity: Toos had spotted a very dirty textile in the bottom of a box in a flea market in Leiden. She paid 2.5 fl (a rijksdaalder) for it (about one euro). Not a lot of money.
At home Toos washed the dirty rag and it turned out to be a beautiful wedding blouse from Croatia. It has since been dated to the early part of the 20th century. The blouse is made from two types of hand woven cotton cloth. One is made from a plain tabby weave, the other is more complicated and is woven from thick and thin yarns to create a striped effect.
The sleeves of the garment are decorated with a wide band of drawn thread work, which is bound with a white floss silk yarn. The sleeves are further embellished with silver metal spangles. The sleeve cuffs have been embroidered with stylised flowers, leaves and berries in satin stitch, using the same white floss silk. They are edged with bobbin lace.
I have long been wondering what happened to the garment. How how did it get from where it was originally made and used to being a dirty rag in a Dutch flea market? At the TRC we often talked and wrote about the silent language of dress, but sometimes we wish they could speak with actual words!