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Object Timeline

1901

  • Work on this object began.

1925

  • Work on this object ended.

1953

  • We acquired this object.

2003

2012

2019

  • You found it!

Textile (England), early 20th century

This is a Textile. It is dated early 20th century and we acquired it in 1953. Its medium is cotton and its technique is printed by engraved roller. It is a part of the Textiles department.

This fabric, printed in Manchester, England for the African market, has a design which imitates the embroidered gowns worn by Hausa men in Nigera. The design of the embroideries is believed to have been influenced by men who learned the art of calligraphy from studying the Qur’an, and reflect an identification with Islam. They are also associated in their iconography with amuletic tunics worn by soldiers. This design features the protective “eight swords” motif, abstract interlacing patterns, and the tambari or king’s drum, a crossed circle inside a spiral.
The elaborately embroidered robes remain an important symbol of status and group identity. A printed fabric of this type would likely have been made into Western-style garments, such as men’s shirts.

This object was donated by Elizabeth Riefstahl. It is credited Gift of Elizabeth Riefstahl.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 83.8 x 81.9 cm (33 x 32 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile (England), early 20th century; cotton; H x W: 83.8 x 81.9 cm (33 x 32 1/4 in.); Gift of Elizabeth Riefstahl; 1953-90-14

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18398907/ |title=Textile (England), early 20th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=15 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>