A Moroccan woman's stole or derra. The coloured floss silk and the white embroidery is reversible. The quality is high. The central ground is most attractive with self coloured embroidery. The backing cotton is fine but strong. In Caroline Stone's book on The Embroideries of North Africa she tells us that the silk thread was locally made and dyed with vegetable colours. The pattern was probably marked on the cotton with a pencil, although I can see no markings.
During the15th and 16th centuries with the Christian reconquest of Spain, Muslims from Andulasia in southern Spain, fled to North Africa. Many arrived in Rabat and took with them their embroidery skills. Professional embroideresses ma'allama, taught young girls from 6 - 15 the art of embroidery, as well as lessons from the Koran and etiquette of a future bride.* The patterns were stretched on a frame, drawn with a pencil onto the background material and then embroidered by the girls. The designs were sold to brides and for their dowries.
The soft cream cotton centre embroidered in self coloured cotton with sprays of flowers and leaves, each end and side borders are worked in twelve coloured thick floss silks in shades of magenta, purple, mauve, two shades of pink, pale grey, old gold, saffron, eau de nil, soft tan, light brown and beige, all worked in satin stitch, macramé fringing.
6ft x 26 in; 1.85 x 67 cm
Excellent apart from four light brown marks, possibly blood from a pricked finger. Do ask for photos if you cannot see.
The Embroideries of North Africa Caroline Stone p 48
African Textiles John Gillow p 140
Price: on request
Ref N°: 1078
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