- Author: Sheila Paine
- Photographer: Dudley Moss and others
- Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Format & layout:
- 240 x 280 mm (9.4″ x 11″)
- 240 pages
- Text and images on a white background
Photos, Illustrations & Diagrams:
From the magnificent cover right through to the last page, this book is richly illustrated with photos, illustrations and diagrams. The photos show embroidered garments in a museum setting, embroidered textiles in everyday cultural settings, in historical black and white images, and in detailed close-up shots.
The visual dialogue of the book is further enhanced by sketches, illustrations, diagrams and stitch dictionaries, and includes a few maps helping to put the book in a geographical context.
Author, Sheila Paine is a textile traveller and writer. She pursues embroidery, following the trails of thread across deserts, mountains and along rivers and trade routes. She has authored eight books on embroidery and her pursuit thereof.
Sheila is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a professional translator/interpreter in French, German, Italian and Spanish, and owns a museum-quality collection of embroidered textiles from across the world.
Embroidered Textiles, published in 2008, is an updated and expanded version of a book that first appeared in 1990 as Embroidered Textiles: Traditional Patterns from five Continents.
The book starts with a short introduction to embroidery techniques and traditions, followed by the bulk of the content divided into four parts:
- Guide to identification: This section looks at the different geographical regions and cultures across the world and gives some context to the type of fabrics and styles of embroidery from each region. The chapters are short and only gives an overview but are richly illustrated with photos and sketches to identify key traits and styles.
- The decorative power of cult: Cult and mythology transcend cultures. This section of the book looks at the embroidered interpretations of some universal symbols that appear in different ways in different parts of the world. Concepts like The Great Goddess, The Tree of Life, The Hunt and The Sun are discussed and richly illustrated.
- Religion and its patterns: Here Sheila looks at the influence major religions like Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and Christianity had on the use and decoration of textiles and embroidered ceremonial dress and artefacts.
- The magical source of protection: Embroidered talismans, the power of colour, the symbolic meaning of a pattern, the use of embroidery in rituals such as birth, marriage, death, hunting, battle and festivals, as well as its use as protection in places and objects like mirrors, altars, and thresholds are discussed and illustrated.
The last part of the book consists of a glossary, stitch dictionary, suggestions for further reading, notes on collections and collecting, acknowledgements and an index. This book is an overview of a very wide range of styles, cultures and traditions mostly discussed in short overviews. This makes the extra reading and collection list particularly interesting as the reader are invited to explore further and read more.
Conclusion – My experience and opinion of the book:
This book is inviting and welcoming. From the cover image of a garment front and sleeves that looks ready to embrace the reader, to the easy to read style of the content, this book makes it easy to simply delve into.
The chapters are short, well laid out and written in an accessible style. Each spread contains several images ranging from photos to illustrations to diagrams, explaining the text and demystifying the patterns. I like the fact that many of the images are of real people in real settings, using the fabrics and garments for everyday activities. This is not a book about dead people and musty textiles in museum display cases, it is a book about the living.
Sheila is a traveller, and paging through this book makes that fact abundantly clear. She takes the reader on a journey right from the first page through to the end. She talks about places, people, cultures, traditions, ceremonies, rituals, believes, lifestyles and handcraft in the relaxed and informative way of a tour guide with a special affinity for the place she’s taking you to.
If you want to go on an embroidery journey, this is the book for you. If you want to learn about embroidery culture in an easily digestible manner, this is the book for you. If you want to enjoy a visual feast of photos, images, diagrams and embroidered textiles, this is the book for you.
Get your copy here.