I’ve discovered some great new or new-ish resources on the internet.
First, I’ve known about the Textile Blog for a while now. It’s a fantastic resources, and all of the articles are well researched, with the sources listed (something I need to aspire to – the source listing, not the research)
The blog has had a recent upgrade, which includes a list of every textile related exhibitions on now at pretty much every museum, everywhere (OK, they are missing at least one that I know of). I haven’t figured out a logic to the order yet, but it’s still a great resource. Unfortunately, it makes me wish I could travel just about everywhere to see just about every exhibition!
Tschetschka head scarf, from the famous textile production village of Pavlov Possad, near Moscow, Russia.
Second, I’ve found an exciting new blog. It’s the blog I want to write but don’t have time for: Historical Fancy Dress. It’s still new, so we’ll have to watch and see how good it turns out to be, but so far the indications are very promising.
Two Victorian ladies and a child in a fancy dress. I recognise the little girl as a Spanish Lady and the Deck of Cards, but the central one eludes me.
Last week our fabric tour took us to India, where we visited Kashmir and a number of villages along the Coromandel Coast.
Since then I have learned that kohlrabi is the most commonly eaten vegetable in Kashmir. This has nothing to do with textiles, or this weeks wrap of the textile tour, but I still thought it was interesting.
This week we tour to Far East (mostly China), and the rest of the world, which hasn’t done a very good job of getting textiles named after it.
For our tour we could go anywhere in China, to commemorate crêpe de Chine and china silk.
If you go to to China, you really have to go to the Great Wall
Grecian inspired wedding dress of crepe de chine for Helena in a 1914 production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. Costume Design by Norman Wilkinson. Collection of the V&A Museum
Cape and Dress, ca. 1931 Jean Patou (French, 1887–1936) Ivory china silk with multicolored floral print. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Guangzhou and Guangzhou Province were known as Canton before the 20th century, and give us Canton crepe.
Guangzhou. Ummm...it's a city. I'm sure it's nice if you are there.
Model wearing afternoon dress of canton crepe embroidered with blue and black pearls. May 1922
Shandong Province gives us silk shantung, the characteristic irregular dupioni-type silk fabric that is one of its major exports.
Yantai, Shandong Province. This definitely looks worth visiting
Silk shantung printed with pop art images of Fred Astaire, 1973, designed by Lloyd Johnson, manufactured by Patrick Lloyd Ltd. Collection of the V&A Museum
Quanzhou in Fujian Province gave us satin, as the port was called Zaitun by the Middle Eastern traders who first brought it to Europe.
Quanzhou city, old and new
Panel of a court dress, silk and velvet appliqué on satin, with chenille, metal purl, swansdown, and silk thread embroidery. France. ca. 1780. Collection of the V&A Museum
Outside of China, but still in the far east, Thailand is famous for Thai silk, though the term is still of questionably merit as a name for a fabric.
Oh yes, going to Thailand would be fun!
Evening dress by Elsa Schiaparelli, overdress of silk organza, with cotton machine embroidery and velvet applique, and underdress of Thai silk. Collection of the V&A
Kyoto silk is another interesting term, as it used to be a euphemism for artificial silks such as rayon. The term is rarely used today, which must be a relief to the silk weaving industry of Kyoto, Japan.
Rinzu Rayon (kyoto silk)
Kyoto. Definitely a place I want to go to!
Outside of Europe, the Middle East, India and the Far East, there aren’t a lot of textiles named after places. Time for the Austral-Pacific, the Americas, and Africa to pull finger and start naming fabrics after their locales!
The America’s are so far behind in naming fabrics that not only have they not immortalised ‘saopaolan’ or ‘manitob’ as fabrics, they have resorted to naming places after fabrics, rather than vice versa.
With this in mind, let’s finish out tour on the island of Bombazine Island in Maine, which is named after bombazine fabric.
Casco Bay, with Bombazine Island, from the air
Last week we toured the Middle East and North Africa and saw all the textiles named after locales of that area.
India became a major source of textiles in the 17th century, and was an important source for fabric for the next 200 years. Not surprisingly, many fabrics are named after places in India.
I’m sure that in many cases the naming process went like this:
European trader (pantomimes “What do you call that fabric?”)
Local “It is made in Kozhikode”
European “Ah, we will call it Calico”
Local “Whatever, you are dumb”
Notable examples are:
Kashmir, which (of course) gave us cashmere from the wonderful goats that live in the mountains around the Vale of Kashmir.
The Vale of Kashmir - elaborate houseboats on Walur Lake add to the fairy tale
Detail of a waistcoat made from a cashmere shawl, ca 1785, V&A Museum
Machilipatnam in Eastern India was known as Maisolos and Masalia to the Romans, and (according to one theory at least, see the fabric tour of the middle east for the other) from these names comes the word muslin.
Machilipatnam beach on the Coromandel coast of India
Detail of the net lace trim on a muslin robe a la francaise, 1775-1780, France, V&A Museum
Kozhikode, Kerala, India was known as Calicut, and gives us calico. (note, Calicut is not the same city as Calcutta, they are in totally different parts of India!)
If this is Kozhikode, take me there now!
'Surfing beauties' dress fabric from the Calico Printers Association, Manchester, UK. Roll printing on cotton calico, 1937, V&A Museum
Madapollam, Narsapur, West Godavari, was the site of a factory where madapolan, a type of soft calico with equal stretch along the warp and weft, was made.
The railway at Narsapur. Madapollam is a tiny village nearby.
The De Havilland 'mosquito', which was covered in madapolam
Similarly, jaconet, a fine cotton with a glazed finish, is also named after the Indian village of where the fabric was made, in this case Jagannath, Puri.
Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa
La Belle Assemblée October 1814 (printed in the September issue) "Morning Walking Dress" of jaconet muslin
Next week I’ll take you to the far east (mostly China), and the one place in all the rest of the world that has managed to have a textile name – and even then it cheats.