Textiles and Embroideries
View our current selection of antique textiles and embroideries:
Learn More About Antique Textiles and Embroideries
Antique Textiles and Embroideries – Old textiles are among the most beautiful, versatile and historic art forms and handicrafts that are still widely available. Although the oldest artifacts have disintegrated, many antique textiles are exceptionally well preserved, portable and highly decorative examples of artistic ingenuity. There are ethnic textiles like ikat cloths and clothing that feature a magnificent combination of resist dyeing and weaving while others feature exquisite surface decorations.
Craftspeople used dyes, paints, resists, decorative embroidery stitches, weaving techniques and imaginative processes to create the most unimaginable works of art. The diversity of antique textiles is unparalleled. Some items like salt bags, saddle covers and Turkoman chyrpy jackets combine form and function while other textiles are purely decorative works of art that have no other purpose but to delight the viewer’s eyes.
Cut velvet textiles are exceptionally beautiful examples of weaving and creative artistry while other antique textiles feature embroidered accents and surface embellishments made from fine silk floss or metallic threads. Antique Indian shawls feature a superb combination of fine fibers and outstanding designs while other woven textiles and ingrain carpets are more restrained. Across the world, people have fashioned textiles to commemorate important events, to recognize outstanding achievements and to decorate the person and spaces of high-ranking individuals. Textiles are relics of ethnic groups, empires, colonial conquerors and indigenous people. Antique textiles are part of our world heritage and represent one of the most diverse art forms in existence.
Antique Textiles, Embroideries, and Suzani: Some of the oldest textiles in existence are the 4th-century Coptic pieces from Egypt. These pieces arose from the early Christian populations living in Egypt and have survived nearly two millennium. More recent textiles include shawls and American flat-weaves. There are also many other types of collectible textiles such as saddle bags and clothing. All of these pieces are prized by collectors for their uniqueness and provenance.
View Nazmiyal’s Beautiful Collection of Rare Textiles and Antique Garments
In addition to the Nazmiyal Collection’s extensive assortment of antique rugs and vintage carpets, we also stock an impressive array of antique textiles from around the world. Some of our most interesting textile pieces are our antique garments; the rich histories of which combine the realms of fine art, fashion, and artisan craft. In today’s post, we highlight three examples of highly distinct garments in the Nazmiyal Collection’s inventory: Each piece is from a different culture, time period, and tradition, but all three are intricate and historic works of art.
Metallic Silk Dress | Uzbekistan, Mid-Eighteenth Century.
The dress above was woven and tailored in Uzbekistan, during the mid-1700’s. The textile history of Uzbekistan is rich. Cotton, wool, and silk textiles and fabrics have all been major exports of the region for many centuries. Flourishing mulberry orchards in the region provide a necessary food source for Atlas silkworms, which thrive in the country’s warm climate, and the production of silk remains one of Uzbekistan’s most cherished industries.
In addition to exporting silk to other countries, much of the textile fiber is woven into colorful traditional Uzbek garments. The dress above is likely an example of a woman’s holiday dress, as the metallic gold thread used in its construction was often reserved for celebration garments. It is significant that the lining of the garment is woven in warm tones, as Uzbek people traditionally regard these hues as symbolic of peace and well-being. In addition to its color, the motifs and Ikat textile patterns found in Uzbek traditional garments are very symbolic, and can be used to determine the wearer’s rank, social standing, or honors. To complete the outfit, an Uzbek woman would most likely wear a pair of traditional wide-leg trousers and a plain satin tunic dress, topped with the pictured robe. Accessories for a traditional Uzbek woman usually include gold or silver jewelry, as well as a headdress and leather footwear.
Like Uzbekistan, Persia (modern day Iran) also has a tradition of fine textile manufacturing that can be traced back for many centuries. The production of silk in the region reached its pinnacle from the mid-sixteenth century to the mid-eighteenth century, during the reign of the Persian Safavid Empire. Although silk was already a major Persian commodity before the rise of the Safavid Empire, manufacturing changed during this period from being dominated mainly by provincial, independent farmers, to becoming a state-sponsored industry. By the turn of the Twentieth century, Persian silk was well-known and highly coveted internationally.
Shawls and textiles such as the one pictured above were worn by women, often as head coverings. This example features a variation of a traditional Persian paisley print, with a spectacular central floral medallion. The red tone of this shawl is worth noting, as color was very symbolic in Persian culture — red, in particular, has been documented as representing many different ideas, from an auspicious sign of fertility and prolonged life, to a sign of the wearer’s honor.
Dalmatic Vestment | Hapsburg Austrian Empire, Mid-Eighteenth Century.
This textile is an example of a Catholic liturgical garment from the mid-eighteenth century, in Europe. The view above shows the Dalmatic laid flat; when worn, the garment resembles a long tunic, reaching to at least the wearer’s knees, with wide sleeves that were either sewn shut or left hanging. In the Roman Catholic tradition, Dalmatics are often worn by deacons during High Mass. In prior centuries, Dalmatics had been common secular garments worn by both men and women, though by the mid-eighteenth century, one would not see a Dalmatic vestment worn by anyone outside of the church. Dalmatic vestments are often seen with intricate embroideries or floral patterns, such as in the example above.
About Our Collection of Antique Embroideries and Embroidered Textiles
Antique Embroideries and Embroidered Textiles – Antique embroideries and Suzani embroideries are hand-stitched textiles that are often decorative in design. They can be composed of fine materials such as silk and may even contain metal threading or other precious elements like pearl or gold.
The antique embroideries are some of the most collectible type of textiles. The best and most sought-after examples are quite rare and appreciated by both consumers and collectors from all over the world. Below you will find our correct collection of antique textiles that are available to be purchased. Embroidery work is commonly seen on clothing, bedding and other decorative fabric items for sale. These days, most of the embroidery work is done by machines which make the process faster and more exact. But it wasn’t always this way.
Although embroidering is often thought to be nothing more than a hobby for people to do in their spare time, it used to serve a much greater purposes. Before cameras and other forms of technology were developed, many historic scenes were stitched out as a way to remember them. This took a lot of space, so many of the embroidered textiles were several feet in length. Sometimes, people also stitched pictures of their loved ones or important political or religious figures. And since their embroidery work was so so cherished and of such a high quality, much of it survived to tell the stories of what these early people went through.
Antique embroideries and textile work can be dated by, not only looking at the material that it was sewn on, but also the style of the stitching. Antique embroidered textile work that was done thousands of years ago was much more ornate. Over time, embroideries became more simplified though. Certain religious groups taught the textile art form in different ways, and their viewpoints had an influence on its adaptation. Large embroidered textiles were no longer considered important.
Antique folk art embroidery textile weavers often started out with small scraps of fabric to practice on called “samplers”. Banners with quotes on them were also stitched. And detailed edging that included flowers and animal figures became more prominent.
The History of Antique Islamic Embroidery
From the beginning of Islam, embroidery was a valued art form in the entire Islamic world. Even after the traditional ways of life were interrupted by the Industrial Revolution, embroidery remained important.
Arrival Of Islam And Their Magnificent Antique Embroideries
In many societies, the embroidery of clothing for men and women as well as with other textiles was popular. Early Islam took over many of these societies. In the Persian Sasanian as well as Byzantine empires people would use clothing that had designs embroidered on them. These designs could be anything from animals to large human figures. The visual effects provided by this embroidery could be compared to what is found on modern t-shirts. The Kaaba in Mecca had its exterior covered with multi-colored textile hangings before the time of Islam. These hangings probably included embroidery. The modern Islamic equivalent would not have animal designs because this would have been objected to by Muhammad. It is possible Muhammad witnessed embroidered cushions when he went to his wife Aisha’s home. Many of these types of designs disappeared with the arrival of Islam. Motifs that were plant-based remained acceptable.
Embroideries – That Two Hand Craft
Evliya Celebi was a Turkish traveler during the 17th century. Celebi would refer to embroidery as the craft of the two hands. The reason for this was that embroidery was a sign of high social status among people in Muslim societies. It was very popular for a long time. In cities like Istanbul, Damascus, Cairo, and others, it was common to see embroidery on leather belts, handkerchiefs, pouches, uniforms, sheaths, flags, slippers, shoes, horse trappings, tunics, robes and more. Highly-skilled craftsmen would embroider items with silver and gold thread. In order to meet the demand for these items, an embroidery cottage industry was created that employed over hundreds of people.
Mughal Emperor Akbar Love Of Embroideries
Abu al-Fazlibn Mubarak was the chronicler of Mughal Emperor Akbar who reigned during the 16th century. Mubarak wrote to the well known Ani-i-Akbari. He told him Emperor Akbar gives a lot of attention to many different types of embroidery. Mongolian, Iranian and Ottoman types of wear are quite popular and especially textiles that have been embroidered with patterns of Kohra, Nakshi, Gota, Saadi, Wastli, Chikhan, Ari as well as Zardozi.
Imperial Embroidery Workshops
In the towns of Ahmedabad, Lahore, Fatehpur, and Agra there were imperial workshops. Many masterpieces in fabrics were created at these workshops. The knots, figures, patterns as well as a variety of fashions could impress the most experienced travelers. Since that time, the desire for fine material has become common. The varieties of embroidered fabrics utilized at feasts exceed accurate description.
Symbolic protection has been provided by embroidery using the highest valued objects. This includes items for babies, items with religious significance as well as household possessions and more. In Turkey, during the 16th and 17th centuries, men would wear turbans as a sign of Islam. These men would put their turbans beneath embroidered cloths.
Iranian Textile Treasures from Our Collection
The Safavid Dynasty and its patronage of the arts during the 16th – 18th centuries led to the advancement of the textile arts to a level that set a new standard. The textile industry consisted of urban centers that were supported by a local agricultural industry that produced silks and wools for the production of fine cloth and rugs. The cities of Qazvin, Esfahan, and Tabriz were set up as industrial centers and represented a significant revenue stream for the Safavid Sultans. The tradition of fine textile weaving continued through the 20th century, and the famed cities continued to create textiles that are still awe-inspiring to this day. At Nazmiyal, we are honored to have some of these treasured Iranian textiles as part of our collection. Here are a few of our favorites.
Antique 17th Century Persian Suzani Embroidery
During the 17th century, the number of textiles and fine silks in one’s collection was an outward expression of wealth. Finding an existing piece from the Safavid Dynasty is a rare treat. Unfortunately, due to the fragile nature of organic materials and metals, such pieces are rare. This piece shows the versatility and complexity of which the looms were capable. This piece is inspired by traditional Persian rug designs from the same period. It is two pieces of fabric, one that is a narrow strip that serves as a border, and the other serves as a field design. The deeper color and elegant florals are a delight to the senses in his rare, historical piece.
Antique Silk Persian Kerman Textile
This magnificent piece of work from the 19th century is a piece of fine, intricately detailed piece of silk embroidery. Silk has a natural shimmer that no other fiber can imitate. It also takes color beautifully and allows for breathtaking artistry. This piece was intended as a rug, and it features a vase design, which is borrowed from Persian rugs of the time. This piece takes the level of detail to one that is more like a fine painting. The design is graceful and elegant. Many times, rugs of this type were intended to be hung on walls, used in religious ceremonies, or in areas of the court that did not receive high traffic. The colors enhance its delicate and refined feel that is found in many antique Iranian textiles from this time period.
Antique Qashqai Persian Overcoat
The Qashqai is a group of clans in the region around Esfahan. They are a diverse, tribal group whose population includes Turks, Kurds, Arabs, and Persians. They are traditionally a nomadic people. This overcoat was created around the turn of the 20th century. It represents an excellent example of tribal weaving with its gorgeous colors and tribal fringe. This piece is heavy, and it was designed to offer protection from the elements.
The long, narrow sleeves demonstrate a style found throughout traditional Safavid Dynasty clothing for both men and women. The sleeves were often pushed up to create a ruffled, puffed effect on the lower part of the arm. This piece appears to have been pieced from other garments. Often, when a piece of clothing or other cloth wore out, they would reuse what was still salvageable and use it to create a new item. Tribal pieces are found less frequently than those from urban centers. It is a gorgeous piece of antique tribal art.
Antique Persian Esfahan Shawl
This regal, fine antique shawl from around Esfahan is from the late 19th century. It is inspired by a medallion rug with its tribal symbols, including birds for luck and the boteh, or eternal flame. It shows a fine level of detail and spectacular use of color. These shawls were worn around the shoulders, or they were used as a head covering for modesty. Traditionally, they were an important part of the women’s wardrobe, and this one is a beautiful example. The shawl’s complex pattern is an excellent example of the level skill of Iranian textile weavers.
Antique Persian Rashti Embroidery Textile
This gorgeous piece of Persian Rashti embroidery from the early part of the 20th century uses vibrant colors and demonstrates the range of design of the Persian weavers. The piece creates a contrast between the intricate design in the center of the piece and the more abstract boteh design on the outside. Rashti is an area located on the Caspian Sea and is known as the City of Rain. Around the time of the creation of this piece, it was a center of silk production and export. Many of the designs created in the region continued to reflect the traditional colors and designs of those produced in the city during the Safavid Dynasty.
17th Century Zanjan Persian Textile
The earthy colors of this breathtaking Zanjan textile from the 17th century reflect a deep connection to the earth. Zanjan is a city and a region that is largely rural. Many of the pieces created in the region have an ethnic and distinctively tribal quality. However, they also produce some pieces that show a high level of skill and artistry, such as this one. Zanjan is located to the northwest of Tehran and is close to Turkey. The region is how a diverse, multicultural population. As such, the designs from this region show the influence of many cultures that would eventually develop into a unique regional style that is easily recognizable.
Antique Persian Silk Rashti Embroidery
This striking piece of Rashti embroidery was created using a variety of techniques. It includes applique work and traditional embroidery stitches. It is an intricate piece of work that demonstrates and high level of skill. It contains many traditional symbols, such as birds and a garden of floral patterns. The design was inspired by a medallion carpet. Pieces such as these were designed to be used as rugs, wall hangings, or table covers. This piece shows the skill of Iranian textile artists and is a breathtaking piece of art.
As you can see, Iranian textiles represent some of the most beautiful pieces of artwork in the world. Their designs and techniques have been passed down through several centuries, many of which were from the Golden Age of the Arts of the Safavid Dynasty. The best part about this collection is that if you see anything that you like, you can feel free to contact us and make it a part of your own collection.