Vested Interest

October 24, 2011 | Pursuits

An 18th-century vest used as a covering at an Islamic holy site in Turkey or Egypt

In the 18th century, vests such as the one pictured above, from The Textile Museum’s Second Lives: The Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles exhibition, were considered the holiest of garments. Made of woven silk, the item was constructed from a much larger piece of the fabric, which was presumably sent by a sultan of the Ottoman Empire and used at holy sites in Mecca and Medina, such as the Kaaba. Once the fabric served its purpose, normally after a year’s time, many were cut and sewn into garments and distributed as holy relics, cherished by pilgrims and loyalists. Beautiful pieces such as these are reason enough to appreciate The Textile Museum, and even more so come 2014, when the museum will move to a custom 35,000-square-foot building on the campus of George Washington University. The collaboration, which was announced this summer, represents a victory for visitors, students, scholars, and those who generally love to admire historic, rare, and uniquely displayed textiles—which are some of the most riveting, if not overlooked, works of art in our nation’s capital. 2320 S. St. NW, 202-667-0441


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