Beautiful Collection of Antique Textiles

Antique Textiles – 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.

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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.

Antique Silk & Metallic Thread Uzbek Dress, from the Nazmiyal Collection.

Antique Silk & Metallic Thread Uzbek Dress, from the Nazmiyal’s Textile Garment Collection

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.

Antique Dalmatic Vestment, from the Nazmiyal Collection

Antique Dalmatic Vestment, from the Nazmiyal Antique Textile Collection

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.

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