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Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide To Traditional Patterns Hardcover – May 27 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson (May 27 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500513945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500513941
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 0.3 x 2.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #859,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


As far as guides go, this one is a hit…. Filled with captivating illustrations. — Antiques and the Arts Weekly

About the Author

Sheila Paine is an expert on textiles and tribal societies and the author of numerous books. She lives in England.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Oh bliss! Aug. 29 2008
By Salki - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who loves to do hand embroidery will love this book. It is a feast of form and colour, using the most simple stitches. In fact, the one thing which characterises this kind of embroidery is that it shows what can be done with a very limited range of stitches, yet produce something stunning. It's the way the shapes and colours work that makes it so striking and is a lesson to those of us who like to get complicated just for fun.

The book itself is wonderful. The illustrations and text are excellent. My copy has dozens of sticky notes all over it to draw my attention back to a particular picture of piece of text that took my fancy - you know how it is. I have a wall of books on hand embroidery, traditional costumes and patterns, and this one at the moment is my favourite.

Whether you are an embroiderer or not, the book is a treat just to read and look at.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A feast! July 12 2009
By Nagagirl - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree with all the first reviewer said. I'll add that each culture/religion/region is briefly commented on with special
attention to symbols and colors important to individual areas
and groups.

I enjoy the photos of people who own/wear the costumes...puts
the designs in context of where they live. I will also keep this
current favorite book near to hand by my work table for inspiration.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
An earnest muddle of facts May 20 2011
By critic - Published on
Format: Paperback
A very pretty book--perhaps inspiring if you need inspiration for your own embroidery--but not to be taken seriously as an ethnographic survey. The illustrations are not dated so there's no way to know if the "girls of Dobra Niva in Slovakia" were photographed recently or 100 years ago; some of the captions are ill-informed (stating that Serbia was under Soviet rule, for instance), and others are just plain silly ("The linen of western Europe is marked in red cross stitch, reflecting primitive man's marking of objects in blood." Eh, what about the artist's vision??) The author has apparently spent decades attempting to connect traditional patterns around the globe with examples of cultic and religious symbols, without taking into account time periods or local materials and preferences. It all comes off as slightly patronizing (and made me want to return the book immediately).
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Enjoy the beauty. Take the conclusions with a grain of salt May 8 2012
By Jane in Milwaukee - Published on
Format: Paperback
I reviewed the 1997 paperback version of Embroidered Textiles by Sheila Paine. Embroidered Textiles: Traditional Patterns from Five Continents with a Worldwide Guide to Identification. If you're interested, click on that book to see additional images of pages in the book I did not include here. I noticed this hardcover was better received than the paperback version--at least there are more reviews--and so I went to library to compare the hardcover with my paperback.

I am as disappointed at the other reviewer, "critic" in the broad strokes the author uses to assume symbolism of materials, colors and designs which she paints as world-wide and universal. She does not take into account each country's culture, religion and history.

For example, presuming that the majority of cultures using red as a dominant color are depicting blood is simply untrue: for many, many cultures, the easiest and most prolific dye for fabric and fibers has red pigmentation. Sigmund Freud, upon being teased for showing an oral fixation quipped, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." Ms. Paine dismisses that attitude and her conjectures are somewhat paternalistic and subject to scrutiny. It is customary for people nowadays to say "bless you" when someone sneezes. Does this mean we continue to believe that a sneeze gives evil spirits the chance to invade a person's soul as it did in the Middle Ages? Of course not. It is social custom and a simple courtesy. There are many motifs from ancient and medieval times that are continued in current dress and other textiles for their pure beauty and out of tradition. But the historic tradition has often been long-forgotten. That's not to say that all or even most symbols are meaningless. But what is carried on in the larger metropolitan areas of a country does not necessarily have the same importance in smaller villages where older customs may grant more literal meaning to symbols. But even here, it can simply be that tradition of centuries is continued through respect of the ancestors--and because the designs are visually attractive. The swastika has been used for centuries in Chinese textiles as a symbol of good luck. Did Nazi Germany use it for the same reason?

The author's insistence that a majority of designs are employed to ward off the evil eye is anecdotal and not to be taken literally all the time. All sparkly things are not talismans. I also agree with the other reviewer that failing to date and attribute folk costumes to small villages or larger areas allows for misleading and overbroad interpretations.

So I advise you to enjoy the book for what it is: a visual feast of textiles. But take her overbroad conclusions with a grain of salt.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
absolutely gorgeous Dec 17 2009
By R. - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recently started doing hand embroidery and bought this book to learn more about the history of this art form. I don't necessarily think this book has influenced my own style that much, but it is an absolutely fascinating read - I love to just flip to a random page and start reading about the cultural significance of various designs.