ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History   /  exhibitions



The story of Islamic embroidery in nomadic and urban traditions

organised by TDIC-education department in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

April 7-July 28, 2010

Gallery One, Emirates Palace,
Abu Dhabi,
open daily 10Am-10PM.


Press release:
Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan opened the region's first comprehensive exhibition of Islamic embroidery, which includes more than 200 rare textiles from the 17th to the 20th century. The exhibition which is presented under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

  The works on view include embroidered garments and decorative objects dating from the 17th to the 20th century that illuminate how the magnificent tradition of embroidery, carried on by urban, rural and nomadic women, sustained regional, tribal and family identities through its integration in communal activities, and how it evolved through the encounter of different cultures. The Andalusians influenced textile-makers in Morocco; the Ottomans influenced artists in Algeria; and all across Central Asia there was continual interchange among Mongols, Uzbeks, Pashtuns, Tajiks, Turkmen and more.
The types of textiles on view fuelled the bustling trade of the region's bazaars and filled the packs of camel caravans that traversed the desert from Central Asia to Russia, Turkey and beyond. They defined the wearer's social status - from the ruler's magnificent gold-embroidered velvet robes to the labourer's striped cotton and the nomad's wool. The creation and use of textiles also marked the most joyous and poignant events of family life, from the rites of birth and marriage to those of burial.
Most of the materials in the exhibition were made by women specifically for their families and for members of their communities. For this reason, the Central Asian examples
  are particularly compelling, since Islamic identity in these countries was strongly discouraged, or even punished, for many decades, and embroidery gatherings provided women with a rare opportunity for Islamic worship.

The exhibition features textiles from a number of Central Asian tribes, including a fine example of phulkari embroidery, which was made as part of the preparation for marriage, from the former district of Hazara (now the Pakistani North West Frontier Province); an intricately embroidered Turkoman woman's robe with motifs including latch-hooks, curving ram's horns, stylised tulip buds and rosettes; long cloth bands used to hold the high piles of bedding of wealthy families, made by the Lakai and Kungrat Uzbek tribes; an embellished saddle cloth, showing the status and social identity of the rider, from Rasht, Iran; and a suzani, a large, bed-cover sized wall hanging that was included in a dowry, densely embroidered with four large bouquets of flowers, common to urban dwellings in Central Asia.

Other notable objects in the exhibition are wall hangings, door hangings, shawls and chest covers from various regions of Morocco in the 17th through 20th centuries, 18th century shawls from Algeria, and silk embroiders from Sindh and the Swat Valley in Pakistan. €“ Emirates News Agency, WAM


home content Last revised May 18, 2010