Gold-Thread Embroidered Garment for a Woman

Gold-Thread Embroidered Garment for a Woman

late 1800s

Silk, velvet; gold- and silver-thread: bands, cords, couched embroidery

Overall: 117 x 170.2 cm (46 1/16 x 67 in.)

Gift of Jeannette Cox Morrill 1943.381



This richly embellished garment was worn by Muslim women in Albania over a fine silk blouse with wide trousers decorated with matching embroidery. The Europeanized Ottoman style signaled social prestige in the late 19th century and differed from regional dress. The gold thread embroidery fashion was influenced by the attire of Ottoman officials and Eastern Orthodox church clergy.

This spectacular garment was created with woven bands and twisted cords of gold thread plus stunning gold and silver thread embroidered motifs. Metal threads were secured on the velvet with a stitch from underneath, known as couching. Specialized workshops in urban centers embroidered similar but not identical models for Muslim and Christian women. Threads loosely attached to the velvet provided design guidelines for the embroiderers.

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