In this post, we have a list of 5 books that are a great gift for anyone who loves textiles and books. Some are historical references, some are catalogs describing museum holdings, and others chronicle stories of embroidery around the world. All provide a visual feast.
Before I share the books, let me say that this is by no means a complete list. It’s biased by my love for color, my obsession with vibrant textiles, and my passionate interest in photographing them. Here is the list in no particular order- Textiles: The Art of Mankind by Mary Schoeser; World Textiles: A Sourcebook by Diane Waller; Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide To Traditional Patterns by Sheila Paine, a sumptuous book that describes the stories behind popular embroidery motifs from different parts of the world. My interest in photography was sparked by my attempts to capture embroidery on vintage tapestries from the Indian subcontinent, and the detailed photographs are one of the reasons I love this book so much. Kalamkari Temple Hangings by Anna L. Dallapiccola catalogs 19th century kalamkari textiles made for religious use that are currently in the Victoria & Albert museum collection. It features 19 pieces and describes the stories depicted on them. The brick red used in a lot of kalamkari works is a siren call to me! Each part of the art on the textiles is explained and I found it fascinating reading. I am often distracted by the colors (that gorgeous brick red, the earthy green) and the magic they create together, and by the fact that I am familiar with the broader story depicted- the Ramayana, the story of Christ or a famous mythological story. But as with all art, there is so much more nuanced meaning than that- in the use of a particular color or motif, the figures depicted, the regional style. You think you know the story, and then someone sharpens the focus of the lens through which you are looking at – a vastly, clearer picture emerges. Lastly, Silk and Cotton: Textiles From The Central Asia That Was by Susan Meller. Happy reading!
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