Featured Objects from the Collection

Check back often to see new objects from our permanent collection!

Prayer Rug (Kilim), T94.2221

Ramadan Mubarak! It’s the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan and to commemorate the occasion, this prayer rug, locally known as kilim, from the Balkan region of Europe is the Object of the Moment. The centre field of this rug features an arch (mihrab) marking it as a prayer rug. In Islam, prayer rugs are used at home or outdoors to create a clean place for prayer as required by the Qur’an. Green is a symbolic colour in Islam as there are several mentions of it in the Qu’ran. You can find green in mosques, flags of Muslim countries and at different Muslim festivals around the world. Although green is relatively rare in Oriental rugs, it is no surprise to find it on a rug meant for religious use. Because this rug is coloured with natural dyes, we know that indigo (for blue) was over-dyed with a natural yellow (perhaps crocus pollen) to make the green. The result is a rich, deep green characteristic of over-dyed wool.

This object is featured on our Canadian Tapestry website, which celebrates Canada's cultural diversity through cloth.


Prayer Rug (Kilim); Bulgaria, late 19th century; Wool; Slit tapestry woven; From the Opekar / Webster Collection, T94.2221.


Rain Cape, T89.0180

With rain in the forecast, our Object of the Moment will help protect you from those "April showers!" In China, Japan and elsewhere, renewable plant resources from local environments have been used since ancient times to make clothing — one example is the Chinese palm-bark rain cape. Beautifully designed, yet practical in function, it effectively funnels the rain away from the wearer, at the same time providing ventilation. Worn with a large hat made of split bamboo, it is an indispensable garment for working in the fields and for protection while fishing.

Rain capes made of various materials have a long history in China, and the earliest known examples were made of straw. After the Ming dynasty, more elaborate examples were woven with grass the colour of jade, which was soft and waterproof. During the Qing dynasty, rain capes were woven using pipal tree leaves.

This useful rain cape was featured in our exhibit "Beauty Born of Use: Natural Rainwear from China and Japan" back in 2010-2011.

Rain Cape; China, mid 20th century; Bark fibre or material, cotton, bast fibre; Hand-sewn; Gift of Dr. Howard Gorman, T89.0180.



hooked rug, T78.0006b

It’s April and Spring is finally here! To celebrate Spring and warmer weather, this hooked rug from the Grenfell Mission is the Object of the Moment. Canada geese start migrating North to their breeding grounds as Spring arrives. The familiar “V” shaped formation and the honking of the geese is an indication of Spring. Amongst other objects of everyday life, the depiction of geese has also been a popular theme of hooked rugs. Rug hooking is a unique North American tradition that arose in response to the need to cover the cold bare floors of pioneer homes. Weaving cloth required long hours at the spinning wheel and loom, but rugs could be made from scraps of fabrics and fibres that were pulled through a burlap base to produce warm floor-coverings to brighten the home. It is rare to find a hooked rug whose maker is known; unlike quilts, which were treasured family possessions, hooked rugs wore out and their history was often lost.

The most distinctive of Canadian hooked rugs are those from the Grenfell Missions in Newfoundland and Labrador. In the early 20th century, the Mission distributed rug kits with designs of local interest such as fish, sailing ships, icebergs, sea gulls, puffins and dog teams to the women of the coastal areas. During the quiet months of February and March (the off months for fishing), women hooked rugs in their homes. The money earned from the sale of these rugs helped augment meagre incomes earned from fishing.

Hooked Rug, Grenfell Mission; North America: Canada, Eastern Canada, Newfoundland & Labrador, early 20th century; Jute, silk; Hooked; Gift of Carlotta Owen, T78.0006b






PANEL, T85.0301

This week we have chosen this 18th century panel from the El Jadida Province in Morocco. This panel is an Azemmour embroidery, which were primarily made by Jewish women who found refuge in Morocco from Spain in the 16th century. The Jewish people of this region, as well as the Muslim peoples who sought refuge in Morocco for the same reasons, both use bird and fountain motifs in their embroidery traditions which reflect their Mediterranean heritage. Birds and fountains are also found in traditional Spanish, Greek, and Byzantine embroideries. Many stitches were used in this panel, such as back and straight stitch and double running stitch, and the pattern is “dropped out,” which creates a negative visual effect. Azemmour embroideries are especially distinct from other kinds of embroidery techniques and design found in Morocco. Panels such as these adorned the exposed areas of mattresses. The material is cotton thread and silk. T85.0301; Gift of Dr. Harry Hardin.











Cloth, T91.0145

Happy Easter!

To celebrate, this week’s Object of The Week is a William Morris creation, Evenlode, c. 1883-1917, which was featured in our 2016 exhibit "BLISS: Gardens Real and Imagined."

Morris was a prominent and visionary member of the Arts and Crafts Movement (late 19th to early 20th century). The late nineteenth century saw a revival in tradition British textile arts and production methods, largely due to Morris. Morris was inspired by the arts and crafts of the medieval era, and contemporary Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Morris was able to transform domestic spaces into romantic gardens with his stylized but naturalistic flora, fauna, and garden designs. Morris' designs from his company, Morris & Co., were incredibly popular and fashionable, and greatly impacted Victorian interior decoration. In addition to tapestries, Morris designed furniture, wallpaper, stained glass windows, and fabrics.

This cloth was printed in William Morris’ Merton-Abbey, and the pattern was registered on September 2, 1883. Made using techniques of roller-printing the length of cotton cloth, and lined with navy cotton. The repeat of the pattern is 53.5 x 22.5 cm. Faced with blue lining, the selvedges are folded over and hemmed, with Morris & Co. is printed along selvedge. Machine sewn mostly used, with some hand sewn attributes.

T91.0145, Textile Museum of Canada purchase.



Dress, T00.48.4

This beautiful silk cheongsam from China is our Object of the Week!

Reminiscent to us of spring and warmer days, we couldn't resist sharing this gorgeous dress with you all. The beautifully embroidered peacock is a traditional symbol of dignity and beauty. The dress is completely lined with pink silk tabby woven fabric.

To learn more about the history of Chinese dress and the evolution of the cheongsam, check out this 2010 article from the New York Times about the Hong Kong History Museum's exhibition "The Evergreen Classic: Transformation of the Qipao": HERE.

T00.48.4, 1950 - 1960, Gift of Fred Braida 



Wall Hanging, T87.0357



Our Object of the Week is featured in JANE KIDD: CURIOUS exhibit, which is at TMC from now until June 10th!

This beautiful hanging, which was used for windows, doors, and walls, is from Aubusson, France, c. 1730 - 1769. Tapestries were integral decor pieces in grand European homes during the Baroque and Rococo eras. The symmetrical arrangement of the items featured in the tapestry reflects the formal French style of gardens. Featured in the tapestry are roses, fox gloves, morning glory, poppies, vines, daffodils, and sweet peas, which are typical Rococo motifs from the weaving workshop of Aubusson in Southern France. This area was known for, and profited from, its floral tapestries, which were made fashionable by the French court in the 18th century. The hanging was made using silk floss, linen, metal thread, wool, and cotton, and used the weaving techniques of slit tapestry, tapestry, and twill.

This tapestry is just one of many TMC objects featured in the CURIOUS exhibition, which are in conversation with Jane Kidd's hand woven tapestries.  

Gift of Fred Braida, T87.0357.






To celebrate #InternationalWomensDay, our object of the week is fit for a Queen!

This headdress of silver and wire is from the Miao people of southern China, made in the 20th century. The headdress has small silver alloy pieces depicting lotuses, peacocks, chrysanthemums, lilies, and figures on horseback. It is also fringed with many metal cones suspended from metal pieces, which make wonderful tinkling noises! The Miao people used silver ornaments, especially in women’s costumes during festivals and celebrations, to ensure safety from evil, display wealth, and symbolize light and embody beauty and prosperity.

This headdress was featured in our 2013 exhibit "Shine," which showcased objects from around the world that used various lustrous materials. Featuring objects dating back 200 years, these handmade objects were ordinary, ingenious, traditional, and radiant. 

T93.0089, c. 1950-1990. Gift of Christine Mackinnon.







Commemorative Cloth, T01X0003

This week, our object of the week post was written by Brenna MacPhee, and she has chosen a kanga cloth from Tanzania!

Used as both clothing and decorative art for around the home, kanga cloths are a beautiful way of interacting with the history of colonial and post-colonial East Africa. This particular cloth, made in 1971, tells us about the years after independence, state building, and public commemoration. The text in the centre reads miaka 10 ya uhuru, or “10 years of freedom” in Swahili.

In the centre there are visual representations of the “modern” nation state, including a wood-frame house with windows, doors and electric light; a book, presumably symbolizing the significance of education; and a syringe and stethoscope, as well as other medical instruments, symbolizing the advances of medicine and science in the nation. In the distance, we see the territorial outline imprinted against the setting sun, with the flag planted within it, as a clear signifier of laying claim to land. Surrounding these visuals is a border of cotton, one of the largest markets in Tanzania. We also see representations of natural resources in the four smaller circles surrounding the centre, and throughout the border. This piece can be read as a claim to territory and the wealth of the nation, finally under Tanzanian control, after a long period of colonial occupation, as well as a roadmap for the future concerns of the independence government.

Check out our database for more beautiful examples of commemorative cloths from both East and West Africa! 

T01X0003, Gift of Barbara Barde



JACKET, T86.0753

In honour of the New Lunar Year, our object of the week is a beautiful Chinese embroidered red silk jacket from the 19th century. This object was chosen for its beautiful red colour, which symbolizes success, happiness, wealth, good fortune, and wards off evil spirits. This jacket features embroidery and appliqués, and was made using hand-sewn techniques.  Adorned on the jacket are flowers, butterflies, and cranes.

May the year of the brown earth dog bring health, prosperity and laughter to your household. 

T86.0753, Silk Floss, satin stich, damask, quilted. Gift of Fred Braida.





Happy Valentine's Day from TMC! 

Our object of the week is full of love!

This week we're featuring a Hutterite (a branch of the Anabaptists) "friendship handkerchief" from Western Canada, made by Magdalena Wipf for Peter Entz in 1916. This cotton handkerchief features cross-stitching; embroidered on the front of the handkerchief is “To the only one I love - forget me not - Magdalena Wipf - Peter Entz,” along with their initials and the date. Friendship (another term for sweetheart) handkerchiefs were a traditional token of courtship, and date back to the sixteenth century origins of Hutterite communities in German and Austrian territories. This token of serious affection was given to a Hutterite man during courtship, and if the couple married, became a warm reminder of their courting days. To find out more about this friendship handkerchief and Hutterite women's textile work, please check out narrativethreads.ca, our online exhibition. 

T01.13.3, Gift of Dorothy E. Leonard.




SHIRT, T00.33.1

Our Object of the Week was chosen by our new intern from Ryerson University, Emily Mackey. Emily hopes to have a career in museums, and will be gaining experience in various aspects of TMC's operations, such as mount making, curatorial database entry, and will be taking over #OOTW during her internship.

Emily gained her BA from the University of Toronto, specializing in History, and is now working towards her MA in Fashion Studies at Ryerson University (so expect some more fashion related posts!). She has previously worked at Library and Archives Canada on First World War commemoration projects, and describing newly digitized archival photos from the National Film Board. Her Master's research will utilize archival research and object based analysis to study late nineteenth century Russian court dress, and comparing them to folk textiles and garments from regions that belonged to the Russian empire. This will combine her love of history and ever-growing interest in fashion studies.

To reflect her research, Emily has chosen this shirt from Eastern Europe, c. 1900-1930. The linen and cotton shirt is plain woven, hand-sewn, and embroidered. The beautiful embroidery especially attracted Emily to this piece. 

T00.33.1, Gift of Barry Matteson.


SAMPLER, T03.56.1

Our Object of the Week is a sampler dated January 30th, 1817! Perhaps familiar to some of you, samplers are used as a skills-test for embroidery, and are testament to the labour and effort required in the art form. Historically, experienced embroiderers sometimes used samplers as a way of practicing new patterns before beginning the main project. Young girls would have also practiced their needlework on these patterns to demonstrate their abilities as they learned. This particular sampler was made by 10 year old Phebe Kissam in Jamaica, New York. The plain woven natural linen ground is embroidered with silk floss.

This sampler includes embroidered text from two poems. First, the opening stanza from ‘The Joy of Grief’ by James Montgomery, a Scottish poet from the 18th and 19th centuries: "Sweet the hour of tribulation, When the heart can freely sigh, And the fear of resignation, Twinkles in the mournful eye;” and second, the final stanza from English hymn writer Isaac Watts’ poem ‘Against Idleness and Mischief:’ "In books or work or healthful play, Let my first years be pass, Then I may live for every day, Some good account at last."

Samplers are still very popular, and can be found for sale from many crafting shops and online platforms. With specific patterns for every maker, there's sure to be one that interests you - from Lord of the Rings themed, to those who wish to stitch their family tree!

T03.56.1, Gift of Barbara Boyden




Rug, T2008.1.94

This object of the week was chosen, researched and written by Karie Liao, former curator-in-residence at the Textile Museum of Canada:

This textile features Paghman Gardens. The gardens are located at the entrance of Paghman, a small district to the west of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Paghman was a vacation retreat with villas and chalets, at the bottom of the Hindu Kush mountain range, in the early twentieth-century. Even after becoming a Soviet-Afghan battleground in the 1980s, the village remained a summer getaway for locals from the city.

At the front of the gardens is the Taq-e-Zafar, a victory arch commissioned by King Amanullah Khan to commemorate the nation’s independence from Great Britain in 1919. Designed by a Turkish architect, the gate resembles European-style monuments such as Paris’ Arc de Triomphe or Rome’s Arch of Titus. At the close of the twentieth century, the arch was irreparably damaged by civil war following Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 but was rebuilt from 2003 to 2005.

According to the object description on the TMC website, the imagery on this rug is an identical replication of a postcard from the Hilario collection, part of the alumni website of the American International School of Kabul (1965-1979). The picture postcard is an interesting form of material culture as it often provides a historical window into everyday life. It is a trace of a particular time, place, and memory. Denied access to the postcard’s message (if there is any writing on the back at all), we are reminded of the object’s limitations; the transience, sentimentality, obsolescence and nostalgia it embodies. Many artists and thinkers have used the postcard as a platform for artistic expression or a point of departure to discuss commodification, colonialism, exchange rituals, semiotics, among other subjects.

The postcard and the rug share similar significance and value as cultural and social artifacts. While seemingly more permanent than the postcard in its scale and tangibility, the imagery on this rug of bygone monuments iterates the impermanence of all things; a fate that the rug eventually cannot escape. Its ephemerality is further emphasized as the rug is a representation of a representation of a photograph of architectural memorials that no longer exist. Unlike the postcard, the rug has the ability to occupy and transform a space. Metaphorically, the postcard transports us back in time and to a faraway place, while the rug can take us home. One of my favourite aspects of this rug is the evidence of translation from 2D to 3D, such as the distorted written name of the Paghman Victory Arch in the sky among the tetris-shaped white clouds. The distortion echoes the malleability of memory or the latency in dreams, an apt characteristic for this subtle rug of war and its concealed violence and trauma.

Rug, Asia: Central Asia, Afghanistan, Late 20th to early 21st century, 1970 - 2007, L 185 cm x W 132 cm, Wool, Knotted pile; plain woven; twined; fringed, T2008.1.94, Gift of Max Allen



HANDIRA, T89.0162

Our Object of the Week is a beautiful wool and cotton shawl from the mid 20th century. This particular shawl is called a handira, and it was made by Berber women who lived in the Middle Atlas Mountains in northern Morocco. Located on the fertile plateau that stretches from Meknes to the Atlantic coast, the territory is protected to the east by the Middle Atlas Mountains and as a result has a fairly temperate climate. Thus, the peoples who live there have less need for the heavily insulating pile carpets that are so prevalent in the higher elevations of the Middle Atlas. 

Handira shawls are made with great care, particularly because they were often made specifically for important occasions– from wedding celebrations to funeral processions. These shawls are composed of wide stripes of undyed ivory wool, and red stripes patterned with geometric motifs in different colours. The introduction of cochineal from the Canary Islands in the 19th century contributed to the widespread use of all shades of the colour red, ranging from orange or tomato-red to more bluish, cranberry hues.

Handira shawls are still made in the region today, for personal use of the artists themselves, and for the tourism and collectors markets. Spinning, dyeing and weaving by hand are becoming less prevalent in everyday home life, however, and now tend to be made more in workshop or co-operative settings.

T89.0162, Gift of Lloyd Solish



Travel Cape, T84.0088


Our Object of the Week is a travel cape or kappa made in Japan. Kappa, a local name for the cape, probably derives from the Portuguese word capa, referring to the cape worn by the Portuguese missionary priests who arrived in Japan in the 16th century.

The cape is made up of 18 triangular sections woven in white and midnight-blue, indigo-dyed cotton. The outside of the cape features vertical stripes and the lining is woven in double kasuri, a method of patterning with resist-dyed threads (swipe to see the lining).

This kappa is featured in Diligence and Elegance. The exhibition closes on January 21, 2018 – don’t miss it!

T84.0088, Anonymous Gift 



dress, T91.0275


With New Year’s Eve coming up this weekend, we went looking for our best party dress for Object of the Week! It is a printed, plain woven wool dress for a child, made in 1860 in the United States. The trim and buttons are velvet. Happy New Year!

T91.0275, Gift of Greta Ferguson



Links: See these socks in our online collection.

Socks, T00.41.32a-b

Our Object of the Week, a pair of red wool socks from Serbia and Montenegro, goes out to all the makers who are busy crafting handmade gifts for their loved ones!

Like other narrow tube-shaped items, socks are traditionally knit on short knitting needles with points on either end called double pointed needles. The knitter starts by knitting a tube, open at the top end and with a point (for toes!) at the other. After completing the body of the sock, the heel is added using a technique called an afterthought heel: the knitter measures where the heel should start, cuts a stitch, unravels and picks up the stitches in that row, and knits the heel following the same shape used for the toe. It brings new appreciation to the idea of measure twice and cut once – imagine cutting your sock in the wrong place. Eek!

The geometric designs are created using stranded colourwork, which involves knitting with two or more colours at a time. While you knit with one colour, the other yarns are carried along the back until it’s their turn to be knit into the design. Carrying the threads along the back creates a double layer of yarn and makes for a very warm sock!

One of the Museum’s resident knitting pros, Conservator Hillary Anderson, recommends the book “Folk Socks: The History & Techniques of Handknitted Footwear” – available for perusing in the TMC’s reference library. Happy knitting!

T00.41.32a-b, Gift of the estate of Barbara Keyser



Links: See this wedding shawl in our online collection.

Wedding Shawl, T00.45.87

Our Object of the Week is a wedding shawl (odhani) from India, chosen by Farooq Ikram, Membership Coordinator at the Textile Museum! Farooq – who is a textile artist and a connoisseur of textiles from this area – tells us why he picked it:

“I chose this object because I love the embroidery and the material. This shawl is from Rajasthan (India). It is hand woven in a thick cotton. Rajasthan has a desert (Thar), which goes over into Pakistan (Sindh), and we see a lot of this kind of embroidery. The nomadic people there also used different metals and mirrors in their textiles. The red is associated with good luck and fertility. Personally, I am drawn to these crafts of the area; I even have a piece like this at home. It shows their lifestyle - they were made by the mothers and grandmothers from the time a girl was born.”



Links: See this hooked rug in our online collection; link to the exhibition page for Home Economics: 150 Years of Canadian Hooked Rugs; check out Paula Laverty's writing on Grenfell hooked rugs in Silk Stocking Mats; in addition to Home Economics, the Rooms is currently (September 23, 2017 - January 7, 2018) showing contemporary textiles in the exhibition A Going Concern: Contemporary Textiles and Everyday Politics in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Hooked Rug, T84.0117

Our Object of the Week is a hooked rug made in Newfoundland that features a map of Newfoundland and a small portion of Labrador. This rug is actually currently on display at The Rooms in - you guessed it! -Newfoundland as part of the Textile Museum’s touring exhibition Home Economics: 150 Years of Canadian Hooked Rugs.

This type of rug is known as a Grenfell hooked rug because of its association with the Grenfell Mission. The Mission started in the late 1800s to provide medical services in remote areas of Newfoundland and Labrador; by the early 1900s, its programs had expanded to include a commercial handicraft industry. Called ‘the Industrial,’ the initiative created alternative sources of income through the sale of locally made handicrafts at North American retail shops.

Though high quality hooked rugs were being made in Newfoundland and Labrador long before, the Industrial changed the aesthetic of local rugs by giving out kits containing pre-dyed material and burlap with pre-drawn designs. This is an example of a popular Grenfell rug design hooked with silk stockings; its fine quality and large size (107 x 79 cm) make it a special piece in our collection.



Links: See this object in our online collection; link to The Arts of the East exhibition webpage.

Rug, T03.47.11


Our Object of the Week was chosen from the TMC’s collection by Dr. Filiz Çakır Phillip, Curator of the Aga Khan Museum and of their recent exhibition, "Arts of the East: Highlights of Islamic Art from the Bruschettini Collection."

This wool and cotton knotted pile rug is an example of a 17th-century Safavid carpet from Isfahan. The “Arts of the East" exhibition presents a very rare opportunity for people interested in rugs and/or Middle Eastern art from the 15th to 17th centuries to see more exquisite examples from this time period in person.

The TMC’s rug with arabesque design features a composition of spiraling stems bearing leaves and blossoms. Its precise drawing and fine weaving were produced by a trained artist and an experienced weaver. It was probably made in a workshop in Isfahan, and its exquisite style evokes the architectural tile decorations, miniature paintings and manuscript drawings from this period. Its minimalist palette of three colours is unusual for classical Persian rugs, and is reminiscent of late 15th- to mid 16th-century Ottoman carpets made in Cairo. This rug is a gift of Mrs. Herta Vodstrcil in memory of Andrew Vodstrcil.

Thanks to Dr. Filiz Çakır Phillip and the staff at the Aga Khan Museum for collaborating with us on this Object of the Week! "Arts of the East" is on display at the Aga Khan Museum until January 21, 2018.



Links: Tied, Dyed and Woven exhibition page.

Rebozo, T2010.2.1

This week’s Object of the Week was chosen in anticipation of Roxane Shaughnessy’s Curator’s Tour of Tied, Dyed and Woven, happening this Wednesday the 22nd at 6:30 pm. This Mexican rebozo is one of the 13 Mexican shawls featured in our current exhibition of ikat textiles from Latin America. It has a particularly circuitous provenance that includes the wife of a former Canadian Prime Minister – read on below!

This silk warp ikat rebozo was made in Santa María del Río, Mexico in the 1970s. In 1976, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his wife, Margaret, made an official state visit to Mexico. The Mexican President’s wife, María Echeverria, gave this rebozo to Mrs. Trudeau. It is known as a "wedding ring shawl" since the cloth is so fine that it can be drawn through a finger ring. Mrs. Trudeau subsequently gave the scarf to Mme. Gaby Léger, the wife of the Governor General Jules Léger who, in turn, bequeathed it to the donor, Annette Langley, the wife of the Canadian Ambassador in Mexico, James Langley, at the time of the Trudeaus’ visit.

In Santa María del Río, both male and female weavers use the backstrap loom and imported silk or artisela (synthetic silk), and continue to produce exquisite rebozo.



Jumlo, T87.0143

In honour of Button Day, a very real holiday, our Object of the Week is a garment from Pakistan called a jumlo, made in the 1950s. The jumlo was one of the most lavishly embroidered and embellished garments in South Asia, and worn by Muslim women in Indus Kohistan. This North Western region of Pakistan has long been a trading hub, with people coming from modern-day Afghanistan, central Asia, and Northern India to buy and sell goods. The jumlo, worn with full trousers (shalwar) and an embroidered shawl (chuprai), was often embellished with trade items like coins, buttons, even key chains and old zippers. The addition of these embellishments was perhaps as a testament to the wealth and connectedness of the wearer, and a way to signify ones individual status and style.

There are three main parts to a jumlo: the bodice, the sleeves, and the large skirt. It is usually made with black cotton, and the fabric is cut and pieced together on a mannequin. Their bodices and sleeves are heavily decorated - this dress is decorated with plastic buttons, applied metal, beads, and coins.

Their voluminous skirts are hand sewn together, and made with hundreds of triangular gores (insets or godets). Each jumlo could take months to complete, and required a great deal of effort and skill.



Mezzaro, T94.0208

Our Object of the Week is a mezzaro, made in Italy between 1800-1850. A mezzaro is a large veil (this one is 259 cm x 248 cm, over 8 feet in length and width) worn by women in Italy to cover their head and shoulders, and sometimes their face and clothes. This one has been damaged in the centre from being folded in half over the wearer’s head and secured with a sharp-toothed comb. Patches of the same cloth were used to repair the cloth.

From the appearance of mezzari in the 13th century until the late 17th century, they were quite plain, but in the late 1600s, an Armenian-born, Genoa-based businessman received permission from Genoa’s city fathers to print mezzari with elaborate designs drawn from Indian and Persian sources, especially Indian palampores. Imagery included flowery centres, paisley borders, and animals like monkeys, elephants, and lions. In 1787, Swiss brothers Giovanni and Michele Speich began printing mezzari with European-inspired design elements: mountain peaks, forests, tulips, carnations, and animals like cows, sheep and rabbits. It could take up to 80 hand-carved wooden blocks to decorate a mezzaro.

In an 1841 book called Sketches of Italy, Mrs. Anna Jameson praises the mezzaro as “the most natural and be coming dress which can be worn by our sex.” But by the late 1800s, well-to-do and peasant women alike had stopped wearing the mezzaro. In an article called “Glimpses of Genoa” in McBride’s Magazine (1871), author R. Davey reveals his disdain for it, saying “The women, up to within a few years since, used to wear the mezzaro (a gaudy chintz scarf) upon their heads.” The painting in the third image is Luigi Gainotti's "Vecchia con un mezzaro" from the late 19th century.

A special thank you today to Kelsey Cassin, our Young Canada Works Curatorial Assistant, whose work has been essential is preparing each Object of the Week. This is Kelsey’s last week with the museum – thank you and all the best!!



Links: See this hat on our online collection; read about the process, materials and challenges Hillary and Genevieve encountered while rehousing the hat collection; the TMC produced an exhibition about these hats in 2015: Good Beginnings: Children's Hats and Clothing from ChinaStories of Chinese children's hats : symbolism and folklore by Phylis Lan Lin, Christi Lan Lin is a great resource, available in the TMC reference library.

Chinese Festival Hat, T85.0753

Our ~*very spooky*~ Object of the Week is an open-crowned Chinese children’s hat embellished with pumpkins! This hat is one of 240 beautiful and unique children’s festival hats in our collection that highlight a seemingly infinite array of stitched narratives and images. Made by mothers and grandmothers for young children, their creation was labour-intensive, and required skill and imagination. First, the maker would cut paper to form the shape of the hat, then cover it with silk by stitching or gluing, and then line and stuff it. The hats were decorated using materials like metal thread, paint, silk floss, cardboard, sequins, glass beads and gold foil, and a great variety of techniques. Hats take the shape of animals and the formal headwear of court officials and scholars, and are decorated with symbolic imagery such as flowers, animals, human figures and Chinese characters. This hat features embroidered pumpkins, often used to symbolize prosperity, abundance, and enchantment.

Our collection of Chinese children’s hats was recently the focus of a major rehousing project, led by our Conservator, Hillary, and Genevieve Kulis. Hillary and Genevieve worked with a team of interns and volunteers to build a custom mount for every one of the 240 hats! The new mounts are multi-purpose: they protect the shape and delicate details of the hats; make it so the hats can be viewed in our storage area with minimal handling (always a risk!); and reduce the amount of work needed to prep the hats for display in exhibitions. Happy Halloween!



Links: See the cedar mat in our online collection; search 'deer rib bones' using the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's online collection's search to see images of the deer rib bark peelers Judge Swan collected in 1883; check out images of Rena Point Bolton at work on Narrative Threads and see Lisa Telford's work on the Stonington Gallery's website; "Weaving Our World" by Della Cheney is a great resource on this topic; this Teacher's Resource, published by the Canadian Heritage Information Network, has information and photos related to Haida cedar weaving as well as a list of over 60 contemporary cedar weavers.

Cedar Mat, T88.0786

Our Object of the Week is a Haida cedar mat from British Columbia, made circa 1880. It is checker woven using red cedar and painted with natural dyes. The painting of the killer whale and wolf heads is attributed to Johnny Kit-Elswa, a young Haida man who acted as translator for Judge James Swan, commissioned to travel to the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1883 to collect objects for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Among the 126 million objects in the NMNH collection are several Haida ‘Deer rib bones for preparing cedar bark’ that Swan collected on this trip.

Long strips of cedar for weaving are harvested in spring and summer. The cedar is removed in small strips to minimize harm to the tree. The dark outer bark is removed and discarded; the inner bark is stripped into thin pieces and soaked in water so it can be woven. These strips, sometimes in combination with other parts of the tree like the roots and limbs, can be woven into many different forms such as mats, capes, blankets, baskets, hats and fish nets.

Some contemporary Haida weavers working today include Rena Point Bolton, featured on the TMC Virtual Museum of Canada project Narrative Threads, and Lisa Telford, who creates pieces like ‘A Night on the Village,’ a red cedar bustier with guinea-feather trim, and ‘Evening Out,’ a pair of red and yellow cedar high heels, that comment on Indigenous identity, stereotypes and fashion.


Links: See this object on our online collection; check out two other Ndops in the Met's collection: 1999.3, 2000.160.55; and in the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art's collection; come to the TMC Library to read "Variations in royal blue; Bamileke display cloth from ritual respect to ethnic demonstration" in Hali (September - October 2005, p80-87).

Royal Display Cloth (Ndop), T94.3021

This week is all about indigo at the Textile Museum and our Object of the Week is an indigo dyed Royal Display Cloth (Ndop) from Cameroon. The cloth is made of handspun cotton that has been woven into narrow strips and sewn together. Once the cloth is assembled, resist patterns are stitched into the cloth using raffia thread. It is then dyed in a vat of indigo dye, giving the cloth a blue colour in the areas that weren’t resist-stitched. The raffia stitching is removed, revealing the pattern. On this particular piece, some of the raffia thread is still attached (see the detail image).

In the 19th century, the Bamileke & Bamum peoples of the Cameroon Grasslands imported cloth like this from the Wukari region of Nigeria, where it was made by the Jukun. Around 1910, King Njoya of Bamum encouraged local weavers and dyers to produce it, establishing a textile industry that continues up to today. In Jukun culture, the cloths were used as funeral shrouds (akya); in Cameroon, they were used to demarcate royal and ritual spaces, worn as body wrappers to assert royal status and used to provide backdrops for important appearances and festivals. The word Ndop used to refer to this cloth comes from the name of the trade route by which the cloth was once traded from Nigeria.

Thanks to Dr. Lisa Aronson for her research on this object.




Links: Jerome Fortin's website; 2012 Textile Museum exhibition Dreamland which featured Fortin's Self Portrait No.4; Information about Senbazuru and it's modern and traditional applications.


Our Object of the Week is a textile sculpture entitled Self-Portrait (Autoportrait) No.3, made in 2007 by Jérôme Fortin. Known in Canada and internationally for his sculptural installations, Fortin was born in Joliette, Québec in 1971, and now lives and works in Montréal.

Fortin created Self-Portrait (Autoportrait) No.3 while he was Creator-in-Residence at the Tokyo Wonder Site in Japan in 2007. He was inspired by different elements of Japanese culture for this project including: Senbazuru, 1,000 origami cranes held together on string (according to traditional Japanese legend, the maker of the Senbazuru is granted a wish which is typically used for an ailing loved one or to offer good wishes at weddings and births); and the kimono that hang on bamboo rods in shop windows in Japan. Fortin collected the paper he used for this project – newspapers, telephone books, maps, comic strips, sheet music, etc. – while walking the streets of Tokyo and folded these found-pages into strips using a repeating triangular pattern. Self-Portrait (Autoportrait) No.3 evokes the shape and exquisite craftsmanship of traditional Japanese kimono.

Install and detail images of Self-Portrait (Autoportrait) No.3 are courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain (pfoac.com).


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Links: Link to the 2009 exhibition Kaleidoscope: Antique Quilts from the Collection of Carole and Howard Tanenbaum; check out classes at the Workroom, including lots of quilting classes!

Quilt, T2011.5.17

Our Object of the Week is a staff pick from Susan Fohr, our Educations Programs Coordinator!

“One of my favourite textiles in the collection is this quilt, which was included in the exhibition Kaleidoscope: Antique Quilts from the Collection of Carole and Howard Tanenbaum in 2009/2010.

I am attracted to this quilt as a maker; I first saw the quilt at a time when I was learning how to sew, and I was mystified as to how so many small pieces could be sewn together so precisely to create the design. An English paper piecing class that I took at the Workroom, a sewing studio and fabric shop in Toronto, helped me to appreciate the work involved in making such a piece and allowed me to better explain the process to the many visitors and students that I toured through the exhibition.

Having begun my museum career in historic interpretation, working at sites that depict 19th century life in Canada, I was drawn to this quilt as an artifact from a period where new meanings were associated with handwork as so many textiles were being mass-produced.”

This framed medallion quilt, made from silk and cotton, was made in England in the early to mid 1800s.


Links: Click here to see this object on our online collections database; see a 16th century tile from the Cooper Hewitt's collection that shows how Islamic design persisted in Spanish pottery after the end of Muslim rule; check out the Aga Khan Museum's newest exhibition: Arts of the East: Highlights of Islamic Art from the Bruschettini Collection (on now through January 21, 2018).

Shawl, T87.0583

This week's Object of the Week is a silk shawl. The intricate geometric and abstract designs of this shawl reflect the artistic principles of international Islamic culture that flourished in Morocco at the time when the shawl was made. Silk weaving in the famous workshops of Fez was a distinctive large-scale urban production and local silk fabrics, furnishing materials and shawls were exported to Europe, Asia and trans-Saharan Africa. The silks were woven in workshops on large draw looms operated by male weavers and assistants, who were organized and controlled by guilds. The draw loom’s mechanism stored several designs at once, so the operator could easily shift from one design to another on the same object. Elaborate patterns were inherited from the flourishing art traditions of Andalusia where Islamic cultural canons continued to persist after the end of Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula (1492). There is also a possibility that this shawl was produced in Andalusia itself. 



Links: See detail and 3D views of this object on our permanent collection database

Tea Cosy, T93.0144

Our Object of the Week is a tea cosy that was given to Gladys (Porter Clark) and Clayton Hyde Forsey on the occasion of their wedding in September of 1933, 84 years ago. This simple household object is made special through the use of silk, hand-sewing and the embroidery of oranges and orange blossoms on both sides.

The cosy is stuffed with kapok: fine, silky fibres from the fruit walls of capsules from the kapok tree. Kapok is often referred to as ‘silk cotton’ and is extremely light, insulative and repels moisture. It was popular as a filler for things like pillows, stuffed toys and life jackets (low density, good buoyancy!) until synthetic materials replaced it. Kapok has had a resurgence in recent years as it is a recyclable, biodegradable and nonallergenic fibre but the short, brittle fibres are difficult to spin unless blended with cotton and is highly flammable so its uses are limited.


Links: See this sarape on our collections database; a great article on the history of sarape design from Smithsonian Magazine; and a cute bonus photo of a cat posed with a Mexican sarape (1866-1868) from the Lawrence T. Jones III Texas photography collection, DeGolyer Library, Souther Methodist University.

Sarape, T92.0016

Our Object of the Week is a Mexican sarape – a rectangular blanket worn by men – from the 18th century. Woven wool sarapes evolved as the European looms, wools and textile traditions of 16th century Spanish colonizers met the existing weaving and textile traditions of pre-Hispanic Mexico. In country areas during cold weather, men often wrapped themselves in a woolen sarape which was particularly suited for wearing while riding on horseback. They can also be worn draped over one shoulder and ones with neck-holes can be worn like ponchos.

This sarape is the oldest one in the TMC’s collection. It was made in Saltillo, a centre of sarape production in Mexico, and the rich red colour comes from natural cochineal dye made from carminic acid extracted from the body and eggs of cochineal bugs. The sarape features a diamond at its centre, a very typical design from this region and time period.

We've linked two later sarapes from our collection. This one, with a large circular motif at its centre, was made between 1865-1875 when the design of sarapes was deeply influenced by the European taste of Emperor Maximilian. Sarapes from this period were still hand woven but stray from traditional linear, geometric designs. This striped sarape is from around 1925 when aniline dyes, machine-weaving and even further diversification of design, largely influenced by the American market, changed the appearance of the sarape yet again. These three sarapes are representative of centuries of change in the production and design of Mexican sarapes.


Links: See the poncho on our collections database; Canadian photographer, Obder W. Heffer took many photographs of the Mapuche during his time in Chile in the 19th century. THe Museo Historico Nacional in Chile has a large collection of these postcards, featured here.

Poncho, T92.0262

In anticipation of our next exhibition, Tied, Dyed and Woven, our Object of the Week is an ikat poncho from Chile, locally known as a trarikanmakuñ. The poncho was likely invented to wear while on horseback in the early 17th century by the Mapuche people, who live in south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina. The Mapuche are Chile’s largest Indigenous group and live across many geographic zones, including cold and rainy regions where the thick woven wool of the poncho is especially useful because it is warm and rain doesn’t permeate the fabric.
The trarikanmakuñ is the most valued type of poncho because the designs are made using the ikat dye method. They are woven in one piece on an upright loom. Women weave the ponchos for the men in their family as a gift to provide care and protection.

The red colour is symbolic of power connected with blood and vital energy. The main design is the stepped cross which represents stylized ancestor figures. Wearing the poncho during ceremonies can reinforce relationships with their ancestors. Similar variations of this design have been found in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.



Links: Click here to see this bag on our collections database; check out some other salt bags from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection.

Salt Bag, T03.1.2


Our object this week is a salt bag from Balochistan. Salt bags were used by tribal nomads to carry rock salt and by shepherds to carry salt as a food supplement for their sheep and goats. Despite the name, the bags are also used to hold fruit and nuts. They are shaped like a geometrical bottle with a large body and narrow mouth to prevent salt from spilling out. This one is quite small, measuring 33 x 21cm. A plaited cord is often attached to a top corner which allows the bag to be hung in a tent for easy access while cooking. Salt bags usually have the same design on both sides and are often decorated with tassels, as seen here. All known weaving techniques are used to produce these bags including plain weave, knotted pile, interlocking and slit tapestry, supplementary weft and weft float.

This Balochi salt bag was made between 1930 and 1950 in the Balochistan region which extends from Afghanistan into Iran and Pakistan. Salt bags are only made in a small area of the world and, as a result, they look very much alike despite the ethnic diversity of the nomads who made them. Textiles of Baluchistan by M.G. Konieczny (1979) is a good resource if you're interested to know more.


Links: Click here to see the sash on our collections database where you can zoom in to see details; Link to François Simard and Louis-Pascal Rousseau's article in Material Culture Review (Vol 59, 2004) [article is in French]; Monique Genest-Leblanc's book Une jolie cinture à flesche (2003) [book is in French]; The Quartier des Art de L'Assomption has an interesting ceinture fléchée tutorial on youtube [the video is in French - skip to 8:00 to see the fingerweaving in action!]; the Canadian Encyclopedia also has an interesting article on ceinture fléchée [available in English and French].

Ceinture Fléchée, T89.0158

Our Object of the Week is a ceinture fléchée, made in L’Assomption, Québec between 1875 and 1925. The history of the development of the ceinture fléchée has been much debated. According to a paper by historians François Simard and Louis-Pascal Rousseau (Material Culture Review, 2004), the origin of the ceinture fléchée lies with the French-Canadians in the late 18th century. The sash was part of the outfit French-Canadian fur traders wore on trading missions; an intricate and beautiful object, it conveyed the power and prestige of the wearer and was amongst the most frequently traded objects. Finger-weaving was used by Indigenous people long before the arrival of Europeans and was essential in the development of the ceinture fléchée, as was the introduction of wool yarn from Europe. The Assomption style ceinture fléchée took form from these influences in the 1840s; the first Indigenous-made ceintures fléchées have been dated to the mid-19th century by Marie-Berthe Guibault-Lanoix. Simard and Rousseau argue that the ceinture fléchée can be seen as an intercultural North American object: a merger of Indigenous and French finger-weaving techniques and materials.

This ceinture fléchée’s dimensions are typical: 20 cm x 2 metres. A sash like this takes between 200 and 400 hours to make.

The ceinture fléchée holds distinct social, cultural and symbolic importance in the Métis, Indigenous and French-Canadian communities. In the past, a sash could also be employed as a functional object: it could be used to tie around a blanket coat for warmth, as a back-belt for labourers, a rope, an emergency bridle and more!


Links: Click here to see the bag in our online collections database where you can see alternate views and zoom in to see details; see Ishiuchi Miyako's stunning 2015 photographs of Kahlo's belongings; check out Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida's wardrobe, featuring images of restored clothing from Kahlo's wardrobe paired with historic photos of her wearing them and painting in which the garments appear.

Otomi Bag, T88.0107

Our Object of the Week is an Otomi bag made in the 1940s in the Mezquital Valley in Hidalgo, Mexico. Otomi weavers are known worldwide for their beautiful and lively textiles.

This bag was featured in the TMC’s 2015 exhibition Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray. Kahlo wore traditional Mexican clothing as an expression of her personal politics: a statement of solidarity with labourers of Mexico and a celebration of the indigenous craft involved in its production. After her death in 1954, Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera, shut her possessions in a locked bathroom at their home in Mexico City, to remain there for 15 years after his own death. The room stayed locked much longer and was finally reopened in 2004 revealing Kahlo’s deep admiration for indigenous textiles and her appreciation of the sophisticated, centuries-old skills used to create them.

In Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray, TMC curator Roxane Shaughnessy selected indigenous Mexican garments from our collection that were representative of those in Kahlo’s wardrobe. This Otomi bag was included as Kahlo owned several shoulder bags woven from wool and cotton made in the Mezquital Valley. 


Links: Click here to see the mask in our collections database where you can see alternate views and zoom in to see details; learn more about funerary masks from the TMC's digital project, In Touch; watch a UNESCO World Intagible Cultural Heritage video about how barkcloth is made in Uganda.

Funerary Mask, T90.0124

Our Object of the Week is a funerary mask known as a ya-ko-ko-su-ti-ro, worn by Tukano men from Brazil. The large, cone-shaped masks cover the wearer’s body to the knees. They are made throughout the tropical lowlands of South America using one of the oldest methods of textile production: the beating and decorating of bark cloth. This technique is practiced in most tropical regions, but is especially important in the eastern half of South America, where there is no indigenous loom technology. The bark comes from the Tururi tree and is then painted with vegetable dyes. The faces painted onto the masks may represent a forest spirit or another human-shaped creature. The top, bottom and small sleeves are stiffened with cane hoops, and palm fringes are tied to the bottom hoop to conceal the wearer.

Funerary masks are worn to represent the inhabitants of the spirit world during mourning ceremonies for the recently deceased (called óyne, or weeping). While wearing the masks, men dance, sing and mime animal or spirit behaviour. At the end of the ceremony, mourners burn the bark-cloth masks to drive away the soul of the deceased.




Links: See these shoes on our collections database T92.0168ab; TMC Conservator Hillary Anderson presented about rehousing Chinese Children's festival hats at the joint Canadian Assocation for Conservation and the American Institute for Conservation's Annual Meeting in 2016 - see the poster here!

Chinese Children's Shoes, T92.0168aB

Our Object of the Week is a staff pick! Hillary Anderson, the TMC's Conservator, chose a pair of mid-20th century children's shoes from China as her favourite object in the collection:

"Like many of the staff at the TMC, I started working here as a volunteer. In the summer of 2004, I volunteered to work with the collection to get work/study hours for my fashion degree at Ryerson University. Our project that summer was to re-organize the Chinese collection. One afternoon, we placed all of the Chinese shoes on one shelf. We made sure they were stored properly by supporting them with tissue paper and finding boards to accommodate all the shoes. It was so satisfying! It definitely sparked my interest in working with collections. I picked these shoes because they represent the project that I did that summer."

In China, children’s footwear was often made in the form of an animal. It was believed that animals had protective powers and were able to bestow health, longevity and good luck onto a child. They were made of red cotton or silk, and were brightly embroidered on the upper part, sometimes even on the padded soles.



needle package

Flora MacDonald Needle Packet, T00.11.5

Our Object of the Week is The Flora MacDonald Needle Packet! The needle packet features the image of Flora MacDonald (1722-1790), a Jacobite heroine, celebrated for her role in facilitating the great escape of a Prince in the mid-18th century!

In 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart initiated a Jacobite uprising to restore his family to the thrones of England and Scotland (Outlander, anyone?). The uprising was unsuccessful and the Prince hid in caves, and the huts of shepherds and fishermen in the moors of Scotland, seeking refuge from government officials. Supporters eventually hatched a plan for his escape. A small team travelled to the cave where the Prince was hiding, and gave him a newly-made dress and identity as Flora MacDonald’s Irish spinning-maid, Betty Burke. They travelled in a small boat across stormy waters of the Minch which were being scoured by government vessels searching for the Prince. Despite the treacherous journey, they landed unharmed on the Isle of Skye. MacDonald was imprisoned in the Tower of London for her involvement but was pardoned in 1747. 


Links: 2010 mola exhibition Drawing with Scissors: Molas from Kuna Yala

Mola, T2010.1.68

Our Object of the Week is a Mola (blouse) panel from Panama! Molas are made by the Kuna people from the Kuna Yala islands off the coast of Panama. In the Kuna language, mola means “cloth,” and is traditionally worn by women as decorative blouse panels. Originally, Kuna women would paint their bodies with geometrical designs, but when the Spanish colonized the area, the women transferred their designs onto textiles. However in 1903, due to a law that said the Kuna had to lead “civilized lives,” the mola was banned, only to be made legal again after 1925 when the Kuna gained back their rights to practice their traditions. They are hand-sewn using a reverse-appliqué technique, which involves stacking the coloured pieces one on top of another and cutting through the layers to reveal the cloth below. Mola imagery is inspired by traditional Kuna symbols and stories, and from imported popular culture. The characters Pikachu and Ash Ketchum are depicted here from the popular series Pokémon. In 2010, the TMC held a mola exhibition- Drawing with Scissors: Molas from Kuna Yala, where over 170 molas were displayed. There are about 300 molas total in the TMC’s collection. Guess we had to… catch em’ all…


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Links: This rain cape is featured in Diligence and Elegance: The Nature of Japanese Textiles

Rain Cape, T2011.1.1

On this cloudy and rainy day, our Object of the Week is a rare and unique piece from the TMC’s collection. This is a man’s formal cape called a date-gera from the 1930s, and it’s currently on display in the Diligence and Elegance: the Nature of Japanese Textiles exhibition. In Japan, capes for work, travel and formal occasions were historically made from local plant materials such as grass, straw, seaweed and bark. Similarly, this cape is made with a grass called mige, dried and softened, and decorated with linden tree bark. Strands of seaweed are attached to the surface and wrapped into the neckline. Date-gera capes were made for formal occasions and were embellished with a combination of colourful plant fibres, thickness, and structure. This formal cape would have been worn for the New Year and other celebrations. Learn more about this cape and other beautiful Japanese textiles when you visit Diligence and Elegance!


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.


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!


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.