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Together with Mrs. WidadKawar (Jordan) and Mrs. LaylaPio (Iraq), and furthermore aided by Dr. MeriemChida (Tunisia) and Dr. Caroline Stone (Cambridge, England), Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (director, TRC) has completed an Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World. This is a continuation of an earlier TRC exhibition and accompanying publication in this field (Embroidery from the Arab World, Leiden 2010. ISBN 978-9059970892). The book was published on 25 February 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

For thousands of years embroidery has been a way for men and women to communicate with different social and ethnic groups, decorate their homes and the clothing of their family  and to state who they are. The oldest embroideries from the region come from the tomb of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Tutankhamun, but who has heard of these pieces? Currently, embroidery is severely threatened by the economic and political changes that are affecting North Africa and the Middle East. Yet embroidery is a major source of income for many people in the region, as well as offering artistic and cultural stimuli.

This is the first time such an extensive survey has been carried out about this historical craft. The book is 688 pages long, and contains 46 chapters discussing embroidery in general, and historical and modern embroidery forms from Morocco to Iraq. It is fully illustrated with over 750 colour images, as well as 56 black and white illustrations and line drawings. For more information, please click on the illustration.

For a recent review in Aramco World, May/June 2016, by Caroline Stone (Cambridge University), click here. Another review, in the ARLIS NA Reviews (Sept. 2016), is by Caroline Dechert, Librarian and Archivist, Bartlett Library, Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, USA. For the review, click here.

The book has been awarded the 2017 Dartmouth Medal. This is THE most prestigious reference book award in the world. It is granted by the American Library Association every year to just one book. It also received one of the 2017 PROZE Awards of the Association of American Publishers/Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division.

Published in the summer of 2010: Volume V of the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion: Central and Southwest Asia. Cover of Volume V (Central and Southwest Asia) of the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and FashionCover of Volume V (Central and Southwest Asia) of the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion

The volume contains 515 pages with entries on a large variety of topics relating to dress from Central and Southwest Asia, written by specialists from all over the world.

Volume V was edited by Dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, director of the TRC. The book forms part of a 10-volume series with Professor Joanne B. Eicher, Regents Professor Emerita, University of Minnesota, USA, as editor-in-chief. For further information on the Encyclopedia, see here. For specific information on Volume 5 and a table of contents, click here.

by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

Embroidery from the Arab World, by Gillian Vogelsang-EastwoodEmbroidery from the Arab World, by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

The Arab world is famous for its calligraphy, miniatures, woodwork, ceramics and silver. However, so far little has been said about another important aspect of Arab culture: the art of embroidery. For centuries, embroidered cloth has been used to decorate private houses and public buildings and to dress men, women and children. Embroidery played an important part in both social and cultural lives of people and reflected economic and political change. This is the first time that a book has been dedicated to the various types of embroidery from the Arab world. The book presents numerous examples of embroidery from Arab countries and shows some of the various ways in which techniques, colours and motifs were and still are used to embellish textiles. It will be a source of knowledge and inspiration for anyone with an interest in textiles and dress and for those who are curious about a relatively unknown aspect of Arabic art.

Leiden: Primavera Press, 2010

128 pag., 22 x 26 cm (pb), 134 ill. in full colour
ISBN 978-90-5997-089-2
EUR 27.50

The book is for sale from the TRC. For postage within The Netherlands, please transfer the sum of EUR 31 (including packaging and postage) to ING bank account 2982359, "TRC Leiden", with reference to "Embroidery". Do not forget to give your address! For postage outside of Holland, please email the TRC: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for costs of shipment.


An Introduction to Middle Eastern Face Veils

Authors: Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood and Willem VogelsangCovering the Moon. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood and Willem VogelsangCovering the Moon. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood and Willem Vogelsang

The subject of veiling and face veils is nowadays one of the most controversial topics in the media and the public domain. Most people, and especially politicians and journalists, in both Muslim and non-Muslim societies, seem to have a strong opinion about it. Many books and articles have been written about the question as to why women wear a face veil and whether or not it represents a form of oppression. In contrast, there is very little information about the face veils themselves, the various types and the regional variations.

This book describes and illustrates the history of face veils, from its pre-Islamic origins to the present day. It tells about the many regional variations, from Morocco in the far west to Central Asia in the northeast. It emphasises the role of face veils as a form of dress and identity, rather than a garment that conceals an individual's persona.


Year: 2008
ISBN: 978-90-429-1990-7
Pages: X-247 p.
Available from the TRC shop, or via Peeters, Louvain, or Amazon.

Price: 78 EURO

Click here for the table of contents and information about the authors. 

Review from: Saudi-Aramco World, Sept. 2009

In a period when the subject is apt to be polemical, it is very refreshing to find a work that concentrates on the veil as an item of costume. Covering the Moon does not limit itself to Middle Eastern veils, but ranges as far as China and Saharan Africa. The book opens with a useful summary of the history of veiling, and its great strength is its wonderful illustrations: historic prints and miniatures, photographs taken over the past century and a half and, of course, numerous images of the veils themselves, many of which are extremely decorative. The book’s liveliness is enhanced by quotations from original sources, including travelers’ accounts and several autobiographies by Muslim women. The careful analysis and naming of veil types and veil parts in different regions and periods provides a very useful glossary of terms. They observe that the traditional styles of veiling are vanishing, tending to be superseded by a global model based on Saudi practice. This makes it all the more valuable that they have recorded a very important part of the costume of the Muslim world. (Caroline Stone) (SO09)


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TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -27 August 2020: American Quilts

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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
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