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In 1925 George Hewitt Myers founded The Textile Museum with a collection of 275 rugs and 60 related textiles drawn from the traditions of non-Western cultures. With the establishment of The Textile Museum, Myers demonstrated his commitment to championing the appreciation of textiles as works of art.

At the time of his death in 1957, his collection numbered 500 rugs and 3,500 textiles. Since then, the Museum has broadened its' holdings to better represent the full spectrum of non-Western textile arts. Today the Museum's collections number more than 19,000 objects and span 5,000 years, dating from 3,000 B.C.E. to the present.

The vocabulary used to describe textiles is rich, varied and often unfamiliar. Click here to learn some of the terms most commonly used to describe handmade textiles. These terms are a brief introduction to textile terminology and chosen to facilitate your understanding of the concepts you might encounter during your visit to The Textile Museum’s Web site.


Oriental Rugs

The intrinsic beauty of Oriental carpets had a profound influence on George Hewitt Myers' early collecting. As a result, the Museum has one of the most important research collections of Oriental carpets, distinguished by both its range and depth. Our collection of 15th century Mamluk rugs from Egypt, Spanish carpets and classical Indian carpet fragments are matched by no other museum in the world. We have a large collection of Anatolian and Central Asian rugs, and a group of 17th century Caucasian dragon carpets and fragments that is perhaps the best collection in the world outside of Turkey.

Other Textiles

Very early on, the collecting focus of the Museum's founder, George Hewitt Myers, expanded to include textiles other than rugs. This grew from his interest in shared motifs found in different textile traditions. His initial acquisitions and later gifts and purchases now endow the Museum with some of the finest collections in the world in early Islamic textiles, including tiraz, and Coptic textiles. In addition, the Museum has significant holdings of Indian, Southeast Asian, Central Asian, Persian, Turkish and Greek textiles. Although smaller in number, the collection also includes textiles from China, Japan and Africa.

The Museum also has extraordinary holdings of pre-Columbian Peruvian textiles. Styles that are particularly well represented include Ocucaje, Nasca, Huari, Chimu, Chancay and Inca. In addition the collection includes extensive holdings of textiles in the modern traditions that descend from pre-Columbian origins, including those of Guatemala and Mexico, as well as the Andean countries of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. We also have a large collection of molas from Kuna Yala in Panama.

Featured Collection Objects
 
July2011 Ikat 2005.36.33

Eliza van Zuylen, woman's sarong, Indonesia, Java, 1900-1910

Fragment of a hanging or cover, China, mid 19th century

Chief’s Tunic or Cape (kinzembe  or zamba kya mfumu), D.R. Congo or Angola, 19th century

Farmer's Coat, Japan Ikat 2005.36.33 Vest

Farmer's Coat, Japan
Meiji period, late 19th century

Robe, Central Asia, Uzbekistan, Bukhara or Fergana Valley, mid-19th century

Fragments, probably used as a vest, Turkey or Egypt, Ottoman, 18th century

Vest
Vest made from a ceremonial mantle, Northwest Coast of North America, ca. 1825-1875 Kimono, Japan, Taisho Period, 1912-1926 Young woman's wrapper, bogolanfini (mud cloth), Late 19th Century, Mali, Africa
     
Embroidered Panel
Caucasus, Possibly Karabagh
18th to 19th century
Rug, Turkey, Kayseri, Late 19th-early 20th century Naga-juban, Japan
Late Taisho period, 1920s
     
Mola Panel
Panama, San Blas Islands, Kuna People
20th century
Carrying Cloth
Q'ero, Peru
1960-1976
Sofreh (floor spread),Turkey, Ottoman Empire, late 17th or early 18th century
     
Saddle Cover
Iran, Senneh
Late 19th Century
Coupled-column Ottoman parokhet (Torah curtain)
Egypt, Cairo
Early 17th century
Kashmir Shawl, Mid-19th century, India
   
Pillow Cover, Greek Islands, Cyclades, Naxos
17th-18th century
Taoist Robe of Descent, China
Late 18th to early 19th Century
   
Asmalyk, Yomut tribe, Central Asia, Turkmenistan
19th Century
Jifu (Dragon Robe), Mid-19th century, China
   
Charkab (raincloak), 20th Century, Bhutan Sarong, Indonesia, Java, Pekalongan, 1870-1880
   

Robe, Iran, Qajar Period
Late 18th to early 19th century

Ajar, Tunisia
Early 20th century

   
Mamluk rug
Egypt, late 15th century
Bag, Turkey
20th century
   
Child's dress, India
20th century
Tampan, Indonesia, late 19th century
   
Hat, Peru, 700-900 AD Quechquemitl, Mexico,
ca. 1946
   
Jumlo (woman's dress), Pakistan, 1900-1950 Sling, Peru, Late Horizon (1476-1534
   

 

 

Jelek (vest), Albania, late 19th to early 20th century Skirt, Guatemala,
dept. Quiché, San Andrés Sajcabaja
1950-2000
   
Blanket or seat cover, Bhutan,
20th century
Ceremonial mantle, North America, Tlingit, 19th century
   
Uçkur (sash), Turkey, Ottoman Empire, early 18th century Tunic, Peru, Huari style, AD 750-950
   
Saltillo-style sarape, Northern or central Mexico, late 18th century Suzani, Nurata, Uzbekistan,
19th century
   
Iscayo (shawl), Bolivia, late 18th to early 19th century Buzi (pair of rank badges), China, late 19th century
   
Ntshak (skirt), Zaire, Kuba people, 20th century Collar, China, late 19th to early 20th century
   
Flag, Ghana, 1960 Blouse, Phillipines, 1800-1900
   
Belt of Bags, Mexico, 1945-1965 Toran, India, 20th century
   
Tunic, Peru, 750-950 Jacket, China, 20th century
   
Huipil, Guatemala, 20th century Raincoat, Japan, 19th century
   
Hanging, Peru, Late 17th or early 18th century Ilgitsh, Uzbekistan,
late 19th - early 20th century
   
Navajo chief's-style blanket
circa 1870-1880
Indian textile fragment found in Fustat, Egypt, circa 1545 - 1645
   
19th century takhin (cap) from Kirman, Iran and Kashmir, India Early 20th century Otomí skirt from Querétaro, Mexico
   
17th century Ottoman velvet
cushion cover
12th century sock possibly found in Fustat, Egypt
Late 19th-century Indonesian Pants from Java north coast 19th century Bhutanese throne cover
Egyptian piece Fragment
Textile Fragment, Egypt, Greco-Roman Style, 5th century Fragmentary roundel, Egypt, Late Roman Period, 4th century
 
Showa period kimono