Browsing articles in "Historic Textiles"

Silk Patchwork –

Sep 12, 2009 | 1 Comment

— A striking silk quilt from the 1870’s, up for auction at Christie’s on September 29th. Further proof the nineteenth century is full of surprises.

Turkish Seraser –

Jun 21, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Above, a detail of a 16th century kaftan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here’s their description:

This magnificent panel from a kaftan is an example of very high-grade seraser production in Istanbul. Seraser is a cloth of gold and silver woven in a compound structure consisting of two warps and two or more complementary wefts. It was highly favored at the Ottoman court. The design of peacock feathers alludes to the bird who resided in paradise until he was expelled, along with Adam and Eve, for failing to follow God’s commandments.

Disregarding its deeper cultural and religious meaning for a moment, I’d like to regard the object simply on a visual level: The bold, stylized design! The buttery yellow with hints of green! Weekend eye candy five centuries old.

Iran, 13th Century –

Jun 17, 2009 | Leave a Comment

News from Iran over the past three days has been quite absorbing, and it’s really a complete marvel to watch such dramatic and momentous events unfold from so many thousands of miles away. As I send my heartfelt wishes for the safety of all involved, I’m also reminded of the incredibly rich artistic history rooted in the region, one that makes American culture look very very young.

Above, a silk brocade attributed to 13th century Iran — from The Khalili Collections. Click on the slide show of their Islamic art collection to see many more amazing pieces.

Antiktex –

Aug 10, 2008 | 1 Comment

A friend clipped this article out of The New York Times for me about a place in NYC called Antiktex. Read Wendy Moonan’s write-up for the full scoop and just imagine the treasure trove…(Photo above by Librado Romero.)

P.S. This is post #100!

Nimbus and Heart –

Mar 3, 2008 | Leave a Comment


I watched the two most recent episodes of Project Runway last night and was excited to see the The Metropolitan Museum’s Greek and Roman galleries as one source of inspiration offered up for their last challenge. So tonight I did a bit of exploring of my own — winding up in Egypt, not Rome or Greece, with this image of a fifth century Egyptian-Coptic textile depicting a man with “nimbus and heart”. The nimbus being the golden halo around his head and the heart — is this the red shape floating outside his body? I love the coloration overall — the red, the dark indigo blue, and the shades of purple and green on his shirt.

Wearing Propaganda –

Jan 24, 2008 | 1 Comment


The subject of my previous post reminded me of literature I received in the mail last Fall for a Bard Graduate Center exhibition titled, Wearing Propaganda: Textiles on the Home Front in Japan, Britain and the United States 1931-1945. I didn’t make it to the show but the catalog is available for purchase on Amazon. The kimono above is featured on the book’s cover and is referenced within the mailing I received as “Woman’s haori, ‘The Thrill of Flight.’ Japan, late 1920’s-early 1930’s. Collection of Minoru Akemi and Atsushi Narita.”

Arraiolos Carpets –

Dec 20, 2007 | Leave a Comment


I had the opportunity to meet Peter Pap (of Peter Pap Oriental Rugs) this week and checked out his website this evening. One of his featured carpets is the one shown above, an “Arrayollos Carpet” (more commonly spelled – at least on internet searches – “Arrailos”). The name was unfamiliar to me but it refers to an area of Portugal known historically for its textile and embroidery traditions. This particular needlepoint carpet is dated to the 17th century. The bold pattern and strong blue and yellow palette is very appealing, I think!

Cintamani –

Nov 28, 2007 | 1 Comment

Cintamani is an ancient – yet modern-looking – pattern that you still see popping up in contemporary fabrics and carpets. As described on the Met Museum website it’s of Buddhist origin and is composed of three balls (pearls) and wavy lines (waves or tiger stripes) and has become a symbol of good fortune. The entry for cintamani (also spelled chintamani) in Wikipedia attributes the symbol to Buddhist and Hindu origins, and relays more of the legend behind the design. Above, a contemporary carpet made by CB Parsua and a fragment of velvet dating to the 16th century held by the Met Museum.

The Birth of Venus –

Nov 26, 2007 | 1 Comment

The holiday weekend was so leisurely that I had time to start and finish a novel — The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant. For anyone who likes historic fiction with lots of romance and suspense mixed in I can definitely recommend it. It takes place in Florence during the late 15th and early 16th centuries and has enough references to textiles to warrant mention here! (The main character’s father is a cloth merchant whose business is later threatened by strict sumptuary laws, etc.) Above is an image from the Metropolitan Museum’s website, a tapestry dating to the late 16th century called “The Gathering of Manna” and made in a workshop in Florence. Also now at the Met: a special exhibition, “Tapestry of the Baroque: Threads of Splendor”, lasting until January 6th, 2008.

Beginning at the beginning –

Oct 1, 2007 | Leave a Comment

pazyryk carpet

It seems fitting to start at the beginning with a brief moment dedicated to the Pazyryk (or Pasyryk) carpet. As the oldest known carpet, its importance was ingrained in me while taking a course on the history of carpets at Bard Graduate Center a few years ago. It was discovered along the border of Siberia and Mongolia by a Russian archaeologist named Rudenko in 1949 . It’s about 70″ square and is believed to have been created in the mid 5th century, B.C.E. What’s really cool though, is to see how highly developed the carpet is — and to realize that carpet weaving must have been going on for many centuries prior to have reached the level of expertise the Pazyryk displays. It has lots of interesting details, especially the men riding horses along the border.