Object of the Week

WEEK 3: July 2-8, 2017

Souvenir Pillow, T90.0037

This week we're featuring a Canadian souvenir pillow. Souvenir pillows were particularly popular in the mid-20th century on military bases where soldiers would often buy pillows with rhyming love poems to send to their mothers. This printed pillowcase features ten provincial crests; the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, though part of Confederation when the pillow was made, were not included. In the 2011 exhibition Cold Comfort: New and Improved Souvenirs of Canada, the TMC collaborated with DodoLab to expand the vision of Canada represented in the Museum’s historical collection of souvenir pillows. DodoLab and visitors to the Museum created new pillows for the exhibition that represented places not previously included and contemporary social and political issues.

week 2: June 25-July 1, 2017

Links: TMC Collection; This rug was featured in Max Allen’s exhibition The Mysterious East; Lecture on Tuduc rugs by independent rug scholar of Oriental rugs Stefano Ionescu, published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (the lecture get’s going around 4:30); Handbook of Fakes by Tuduc by Stefano Ionescu

Prayer Rug, T04.19.10

Here is a prayer rug from our collection to commemorate the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid al-Fitr celebrations. This one has a sensational story, so read on! This prayer rug is an imitation of a 17th century Ottoman rug made by Teodor Tuduc (1888-1983), a Romanian rug restorer, dealer and the world’s most famous rug-forger. Tuduc created such skillful forgeries of Ottoman, Persian and Caucasian rugs, artificially aged through ‘antique washing’ procedures, that even scholars, curators and rug dealers could not tell the difference between an authentic rug and one of his forgeries, the TMC included! When the TMC acquired this Tuduc, it was believed to be an authentic Ottoman rug. Max Allen, one of the TMC's founders, realized it was a fake after handling real ones at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At the time, there was almost nothing published about Tuduc's fakes but Allen noticed that it did not have the clear, bright colours and floppy feel of the real ones; it has resolved corners whereas real ones almost always have incomplete pattern units in the corners; and that the selvedges look like they’re “stapled” on. Tuduc's fakes have reportedly made their way into the collections of museum like the Met and the Museum for Islamic Art in Berlin, and one hung on display, undetected, in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum for decades. Tuduc’s imposters have now become highly collectable.

Prayer rugs like this one are used by Muslim worshippers to cover the ground while they pray. Prayer rugs will usually depict a niche at one end of the rectangle, which is meant to represent the Mihrab found in every mosque. The Mihrab is a directional point that guides the worshipper in the direction of Mecca. Eid Mubarak!

Week 1: June 18-24, 2017

Links: TMC CollectionNarrative Threads postLe-La-La DancersMuseum of Anthropology Dance Apron

Dance Apron, T04.30.1

To celebrate National Aboriginal Day, the first object we’re sharing is a dance apron from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. Aprons like this one are worn by Kwakwaka’wakw dancers during traditional ceremonies such as the Tła’sala “Peace Dances.” This apron, made in 1970, has a design created with plastic buttons; bells and thimbles are used to make noise when the apron is worn. Older examples often feature buttons made from abalone (aka sea snails) and noisemakers made from other natural materials. On our Virtual Museum of Canada site Narrative Threads you can also see a Kwakwaka’wakw dance apron from Takus, BC (from the collection of the Museum of Anthropology) made from moose skin, porcupine quill, metal, deer hoof and fibre. Swipe right to see a photo of the Le-La-La Dancers, a group of traditional Kwakwaka’wakw dancers based in Victoria, BC who wear dance aprons and button blankets in their dances and who have been performing across Canada and in countries as far away as New Zealand since 1987.