Friday, September 23, 2011

Large Embroideries at the Textile Museum of Canada

Man's robe, Hausa, Nigeria
Cotton, woven in strips, embroidered with silk thread
Some of the circles were removed then re-attached with needlelace technique. The little brown dots are seed stitch.
About 90 inches across, 50-60" high.
Palak cloth. Suzani
The solid red circles are embroidered with such fine couching, that they look woven.
Silk and wool embroidery on plain cotton ground.
About 1860. From Bokhara, Uzzbekistan
The circles are cosmological symbols (moon, sun)
About 100 inches across, 90" down.
Yaktak, Man's coat in Ikat silk weave
A lined robe that is not padded
Phulkari Wedding Shawl, Pakistan
Red cotton completely covered with silk floss embroidery
The cloth is stitched in horizontal and vertical directions to take advantage of the reflective quality of the floss. These shawls are given to the bride by the groom's grandmother.
about 50" wide, 80" high.

I made ball point sketches of these amazing large embroideries during my visit to the Textile Museum of Canada yesterday. Sketching helps me to really look at the pieces, and I didn't have my camera with me anyway. All of these images are lifted from the museum's amazing online collection. Being up close to these awesome hand stitched fabrics is very nourishing. The power inherent in them stays with me for months. Hunter's Coat, Mali West Africa, 1960-1970, cotton, cowrie shell, skin, tooth, claw, mirrors.

I also sketched this coat during my visit as well. The leather packets sewn to the coat in grid formations are thought to contain little pieces of paper with prayers written on them. There are round mirrors on the front of the coat, and square mirrors on the back. The cords that are all over were knotted, spit upon and given an incantation. All of these talismans were for protection for the wearer. The coat was worn before the hunt in a ceremony, not during.


  1. What a going to the collection myself...almost. Thank you Judy

  2. Anonymous9:32 am

    I visited in July and was very impressed. I didn't sketch but took photos and have used these textiles as inspiration for my City & Guilds work. Great exhibit isn't it? The hunter's coat with the amulets and other adornments stood out for me.

  3. Oh I love the white piece....quite beautiful.

  4. these are astonishing--working large is a challenge but so rewarding

    and oh my goodness, your take on Emily Carr in a previous post--LYRICAL

  5. Such gorgeous stuff, it's a feast for the eyes. Thanks so much for sharing - and I should try the sketch technique myself, sounds like it adds another level to the experience.

  6. Patti, I added the hunter's coat to the post because of your comment. I too was blown away by it, even though it was the second time I had seen that coat in exhibition.

    Thank you all for your visit and encouragement re: these kinds of posts.

  7. Anonymous12:44 pm

    wow to have so much world history to feast on.

    thanks for sharing.

  8. WOW Judy. These are all so BEAUTIFUL !!!!!
    (can you imagine that some people are still calling some cultures "primitive".....???)

  9. you must be just flying with the marveling and joy of made by hands textiles. all are beautiful, all are moving.

  10. Anonymous3:36 pm

    Thanks for including it Judy. Did you ever find out why the mirrors on the front are round while the ones on the back are square? I couldn't find any info on that. It is quite remarkable and the bits of Qu'ran written and stuffed into the leather pouches was very interesting.

  11. helen salo5:31 pm

    Thanks again for a wonderful post. I learn so much and get so inspired. The coat is Quite Intriguing, I just love it!


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