ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History / books

  Embroidered Textiles
A World Guide to Traditional Patterns, by Sheila Paine, London 2008
first published in the United Kingdom in 1990, revised and expanded in 2008
in english, 240 pages, with 508 illustrations, 362 in colour, 29.95
ISBN 978-0-500-51394-1
  Press release:
Embroidery has been practiced for thousands of years, and the variety is astonishing: gold-embroidered Chinese court insignia, landscape-worked Japanese kimonos, Sumatran sarongs, Indian saris, Afghan chain-stitched purses, Turkish napkin borders, Ghanaian patchwork banners, Egyptian head shawls, Moroccan cushion covers, Hungarian sheepskin jerkins, Slovakian bed curtains, German folk dress, Dutch bonnets, Breton coifs, Sicilian ecclesiastical cloths, Spanish sleeves, North American Indian quillwork pouches, Mexican blouses, Panamanian molas, Peruvian Nasca textiles, and more.

The book is organized into four main sections, covering every aspect of embroidered textiles:

  • Guide to Identification: the key fabrics, materials, stitches, motifs, and styles;
  • The Decorative Power of Cult: recurrent mythological symbols, including Great Goddess figures, Trees of Life, and symbols of the Hunt;
  • Religion and Its Patterns: the main symbols of all the major religious and spiritual systems;
  • The Magic of Embroidery: protective and strengthening devices rooted in ancient beliefs and superstitions.

There are over 350 illustrations, including specially taken color photographs, maps, line drawings, and a dictionary of stitches. Complete with a glossary, a guide to textile collections around the world, and advice on collecting and conserving textiles, this comprehensive survey, now in an enhanced format and completely revised, will be invaluable to anyone interested in fashion, textiles, crafts, and design.

Sheila Paine is a world expert on tribal societies and textiles.

  Central Asia, Afghanistan    

Small Hazara cloth used to cover food. The Teapot is a symbol of hospitality. Bold flower heads and buds in strong colours are typical of Tajik work.


A Mujahedin fighter from Kandahar. The men's shirts and shawls are finely embroidered in varied geometric patterns. Their counted thread work is extremely difficult for the women to do on the crude Japanese polyester available to them.

A Koochi gypsy girl in Jalalahad fetches water from a stream to sell. The bodice of her dress is covered in cross-stitch embroidery.

home content Last revised 9 September 2008