Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide to Traditional Patterns

March 14, 2010


This is a coffee table style book well worth reading! Shelia Paine, a world expert in textiles and tribal societies, explores embroidery from a slightly different angle. It is her belief that the primary function of embroidery is “to decorate or embellish textiles already created to meet man’s basic needs.” She does an outstanding job of defending this hypothesis. In her introduction she explores the symbolism and motifs used in embroidery as well as the social indicators of embroidery in different cultures.

The substance of the book comes, however, in her Guide to Identification in which she divides the world into geographical regions and then investigates and analyzes the textiles indigenous to those areas. Her text is supplemented by 508 illustrations and line drawings; over 300 of them in color. She also includes in-depth explanations of the symbolism of motifs; religion’s influence on embroidery; and embroidery as “magic” to ward against evil.  Awesome stuff! 



2 Responses to “Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide to Traditional Patterns”

  1. Everyone needs a little “magic” in their lives! Hearing about how “women’s needlework” could conjure magic is inspring. This book definitely elevates this fine art…

    • > I know. I totally “get” how being an accomplished needleworker could make a girl more eligible for marriage (e.g. the beautifully worked sampler hanging on the wall of the 19th century house) but there is soooo much more to it. I love exploring how the act of putting together needle, thread and fabric has impacted women’s history as well as history in general.

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