The Arts

A Purse for the Ages

Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection

This elegant purse was one piece in the original bequest of Professor Helen Louise Allen to form the textile teaching collection that — 50 years on — still bears her name and continues to inform students, researchers, and historians today. This piece has become a talisman for the collection’s golden anniversary, which the School of Human Ecology is celebrating this year. The purse is an example of an ancient art called zardozi, a distinctive metallic embroidery associated with India and the Middle East. Taken from the Persian words for gold (zar) and embroidery (dozi), zardozi is usually formed around natural motifs wrought in silver, gold, and copper wire or metallic threads accented with sequins, beads, pearls, semi-precious stones, and jewels.

Published in the Summer 2019 issue


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