early 1900s
Location: not on view
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Did You Know?

There is so much metal in this shawl that it weighs nearly 4.5 pounds.


Egyptians may have innovated tulle-bi-telli (“net with metal,” also called assiut) after the French introduced machine-made netted fabric (tulle) in the late 1800s. It drew from telli, an earlier metal embroidery technique. Diamond and rectangle designs formed by knotting flattened silver wire into black tulle indicate this scarf’s early age in the genre. Urban Egyptian singers and dancers performed in heavy, shimmering tulle-bi-telli costumes during the late 1800s through the mid-1900s. Elite Egyptian city dwellers also wore it. Similar ones were sold at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and to tourists in Egypt, a possible origin for this example. In the US, tulle-bi-telli scarves were made into home decor and 1920s flapper-style clothing.


early 1900s

Africa, North Africa, Egypt, Assiut, Egyptian maker

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