Keynote speakers – University of Copenhagen

Traditional Textile > Keynote speakers

Keynote Speakers

Ameera Saied al Zaben
Anna Falk
Anna Karatzani

Birgitta Nygren
Cécile Michel
Eva Andersson Strand
Fatma Marii
Hani Hayajneh
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood
Jeanette Boertien
Joanne Cutler
Jorie Johnson
Kerstin Andersson
Kerstin Anderson Åhlin

Laila Tyabji
Linda Olofsson

Maj G. Ringgaard
Mary Petrina Boyd
Mary Harlow
Najd Sweidan
Nihad Hendawi
Sophie Desrosiers
Susan Jones
Susanne Lervad
Toolika Gupta
Valentina Gamba



Ameera Saied al Zaben

Curator, The Jordan Museum

Najd Sweidan

Assistant curator, The Jordan Museum

The Role of the Jordan Museum in Documenting Jordanian Traditional Costumes


This paper describes the role of The Jordan Museum in documenting Jordanian traditional costumes to preserve a part of the inherited cultural heritage.
Jordanian costume is characterized by its elegance, originality, and practicality. The Jordanian costume is also remarkable for its vast diversity, despite Jordan's relatively small geographical area. This variation reflects different styles of living, for example, the agricultural societies of the north and the Bedouin nomadic and settled communities of the south. The modernization of society led to the abandonment of traditional ways, and the wearing of distinctive often exquisitely crafted costumes has diminished or disappeared altogether.

As one of the organizations responsible for preserving the cultural heritage of Jordan, The Jordan Museum feels responsible for both the tangible and intangible heritage inherited from previous generations. It took upon itself the role of documenting the traditional costumes of Jordan: this particular research was conducted with collaboration of the Women's Museum in Denmark and Mrs. Qawar. The documentation was done through a review of related literature about the Jordanian traditional costume, visiting experts concerned with the preservation of the Jordanian cultural heritage, meeting researchers to gather information about the environmental effect on the costumes as well as the effect of neighboring countries; photographic and video graphic documentation, digital photos concentrating on the details of the costumes and finally registering the available costumes through first hand examination, and completing the designed registration form. 

The results obtained can be summarized as follows: costumes vary according to age and social level, women’s costumes in particular differ according to the material status of the woman and costumes worn inside the house differs from those worn outside.Til toppen







Anna Falk

Reconsidering traditional patternmaking:  A new ʻzero wasteʽ perspective in fashion design


This paper aims to illustrate how textile traditions and cultural values can be embedded in future fashion business. Today’s fashion industry has an urgent need for sustainable solutions; by studying different models of conceiving and using textiles in the past, we acquire knowledge that can be applied to the ways we deal with contemporary issues like fabric waste and a fast-running fashion industry.

Patternmaking around the world has traditionally been based on the idea of optimizing the use of fabric. This has been obtained through several techniques:  by draping (as in Greek and Roman costume), by fitting square pattern-pieces into each other (as in Scandinavian pre-industrial dress), or by cutting as little as possible in the fabric (as in Eastern Asia traditional clothing, e.g. the kimono).  The fabric was highly valued for its precious materials, cultural meaning or simply because of the lack of textiles.

Through my collection “Unfolding Fashion” I propose to add a further dimension to the modern concept of zero-waste: the clothing is not only based on a patternmaking technique leaving as little fabric waste as possible, but also designed with the idea of conserving and prolonging the lifetime of the fabric both by keeping large areas of the fabric uncut and through developing a technique that allows the clothing to be unfolded back into a flat-lying fabric. This method facilitates future upgrading and recycling of the textile, thus answering to the need of sustainability and slow fashion.Til toppen





Anna Karatzani

Assistant Professor, Technological Educational Institution Athens, Greece

The Use of Metal Threads in the Decoration of Ecclesiastical and Secular Textiles in Greece


Precious metals have been used for the decoration of textiles since ancient times to create luxury objects for the secular and religious elite. Metal threads have been interwoven into fabrics, used decoratively in tapestry, embroidery and lace making and have been traditionally associated with the use of silk, since gold threads, just like silk, are considered luxury materials engaged in the manufacture of the finest and most expensive fabrics.
In Greece metal threads are extensively used from the Byzantine era onwards for the decoration of ecclesiastical and secular textiles. Most of the woven examples have been destroyed and only a few examples of embroidered ecclesiastical textiles have survived to demonstrate the types of metal threads used, as well as the embroidery techniques (stitches) employed for their application on the ground fabric. These embroideries and some examples of traditional clothes have allowed the study, documentation and investigation of metal threads types used in order to identify the materials and the manufacturing techniques employed for their production.
The changes in metal thread production and the materials used will be discussed in order to explore the relationship between the materials and types of threads used for the decoration of ecclesiastical textiles and those used for the decoration of secular objects.Til toppen





Birgitta Nygren

National Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies



Kerstin Anderson Åhlin

National Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies

The past, the present, and the future - the National Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies

The National Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies is an organization that celebrated its 100 year anniversary 2012. Today 27 Handicraft Societies are part of the association, a great increase from the 10 that started it. During the years the organization has grown and developed.
Already from the start the cultural heritage of handicraft was documented in writing and pictures, and it is the foundation of today’s activities. For a long time the possibility for crafters to get marketing for their production was as important as the documentation of traditions. Each society was running a business operation, sometimes with more than one store in each county. Only a few still remain. Good design was important and artists were employed to develop the craft and adapt it to the style of the time.
With state contributions the handicraft consultants can be hired to convey the knowledge of materials and techniques. Cultural heritage, teaching and business is still a focus.
The magazien ”Hemslöjd” spreads thoughts and ideas about handicraft and folk art. Each Handicraft Society is a non-profit organization with its own board and economy. Each society is in turn part of the National Association, with a total of 15 000 members today.Til toppen





Cécile Michel

CNRS (National Centre of Scientific Research, Nanterre, France)

Estimating an Old Assyrian Household Textile Production with the Help of Experimental Archaeology: Feasibility and Limitations


Cuneiform texts detail the textile production in large Mesopotamian workshops from Ur III (21th century BC) or in Old Babylonian palaces (18th cent. BC). The archaeological material documents also the private sphere, with the discoveries of spindle whorls and loom weights in houses. But, at Aššur, the Old Assyrian level (19th-18th cent. BC) has not been excavated.
To understand the textile production in this city, we rely exclusively on the thousands of letters sent by the Assyrian women to their family members in Anatolia. Their textile production had two goals: clothing family and household members, and fueling the long distance trade. The sale of women’s textiles in Anatolia generated revenues for them. Experimental archaeology, based on traditional textile crafts and archaeological textile tools, carried out by the Centre for Textile Research, provides data which can
be used together with the textual documentation to estimate the number of textiles produced by a household. Such a data is fundamental to understand the women’s contribution to the international trade and their income from the sale of their textiles. This paper will investigate the methodology to be used when combining the results of experimental archaeology with textual data, and the limitation of this interdisciplinary research.Til toppen





Eva Andersson Strand

Archaeologist, Associate Professor,The Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Textile Research (CTR), University of Copenhagen

Experimental Textile archaeology – a link to the past?


Textile archaeology is a research field which covers many different aspects of the past. Textiles and textile production has always had an economic, social and cultural impact on societies despite time and region and it is important to include this in our general interpretation of the past, if not, a large part of our history is lost.
Archaeological textile research began by focussing on preserved textiles but more recently has considered textile tools and production. In textile research it is often stated that “textile researchers have the advantage that many of the tools are still in use by crafts people today” and we know, for example, how to spin with a spindle or weave on a warp-weighted loom. However, the challenge is to transfer this knowledge to the interpretation of tools and production in ancient societies and one can never presume that the tools and the techniques were exactly the same 1000 or 2000 years ago.
A method based on traditional craft is experimental archaeology. Archaeological finds of textile tools have been reconstructed and tested and the results used to interpret which types of textiles that could have been produced at a specific site but the method always provide a range of interpretations and answers.
For over 25 years I have, together with crafts people, conducted several experiments with different types of reconstructed tools. The results have been used, misused and of course also questioned. In this presentation I will, from a source-critical perspective, discuss the possibilities and limitations using this method in textile archaeological research.Til toppen




Fatma Marii

The Jordan Museum



Nihad Hendawi

Conservator at the Jordan Museum

Preserving Techniques for the Textile Collections at the Jordan Museum


The Jordan Museum presents the history and culture heritage of Jordan in an engaging and educational way. Presenting Jordan's traditional life and its modern life requires the possession of textile collections which include cloths, rugs and other traditional accessories.
Most of these textiles were brought to the museum either by purchase or as donations from private individuals or societies. Usually these resources would have previously stored the textiles in unsuitable environments for their preservation: either they were in damp and dark storage or exposed to dust and direct light. When the textiles became part of the museum collection, they were kept in temporary storage before moving to the permanent location of the museum.
While storing the textiles, each object was treated differently according to their condition. Later when the collection was transported to the permanent location, special arrangements were taken and considered for their storage and display in the museum building.
The problems and challenges that conservators and curators encountered in order to preserve the textile collection at the museum, and the solutions and procedures that were taken for their continued preservation and maintainance will be presented and discussed in this paper.Til toppen






Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

Director, Textile Research Centre, Leiden

North African and Middle Eastern Embroidery

The Textile Research Centre, Leiden, is preparing detailed study of embroidery in North Africa and the Middle East. The Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World will be published in late 2014 (Berg Publishers, London).
The survey looks at the production, use and social context of embroidery. It is divided into three sections: (1) basic introduction to embroidery; (2) ancient and historical embroideries, with an emphasis on examples from archaeological sites in the Middle East (notably Egypt, Nubia and Lebanon) from the period of Tutankhamun to the end of the medieval period, and (3) regional embroidery from North Africa and the Middle East, namely Morocco to Iraq. The survey looks at both professional and domestic work.
The study is being prepaped by various specialist in the field, including Mrs. Widad Kawar and Mrs. Layla Pio (both of Amman, Jordan). It has ‘snapshots’ that look at specific subjects of particular interest, notably, the Kiswah Qabir (Maghreb), the Street of the Tentmakers (Egypt), the Kiswah (Saudi Arabia).
The working methodology is relevant to the study of other aspects of material culture in North Africa and the Middle East.Til toppen





Hani Hayajneh

Professor, Yarmouk University Jordan, UNESCO Facilitator

The UNESCO 2003 Intangible Heritage Convention: Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and fostering sustainable development


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Jeanette Boertien

University of Groningen, the Netherlands

Aspects of Textile Production in Iron Age Transjordan


Archaeological finds from different sites in Jordan demonstrate the role textile production played in the society of Ammon and Moab between 800-600 BC.
Tools and textile fragments from Deir 'Alla and Tell Mazar in the Jordan Valley indicate a local tradition in textile production. Tools, texts and archaeological features from both Deir 'Alla and Khirbet al-Mudayna will be discussed to find an answer to the question whether weaving for a temple or a shrine was practised in Iron Age Jordan. And finally an inscription will shed some new light on the role of women in public and religious life in Iron Age Moab.Til toppen





Joanne Cutler

University of Copenhagen

Interlacing Threads of Evidence in the Interpretation of Textile Production in Bronze Age Crete

The Minoan palatial civilisation on Crete reached its apex in the Neopalatial period (c. 1750-1490 BCE). Later texts from the palatial site of Knossos and from centres on the southern Greek mainland demonstrate the existence of major palatial textile industries in the following Mycenaean period, but there is negligible textual evidence for the nature and scale of the Neopalatial textile industry, and very few fragments of actual textiles have survived. In contrast, the archaeological record for the Neopalatial period provides extensive evidence for textile production, principally in the form of loom weights, at both palatial and non-palatial sites. Furthermore, the few surviving
Neopalatial texts do indicate that the palatial Mycenaean textile industry developed out of an already established Minoan textile production system.
This paper will discuss how research on textile technology and textile craft knowledge can be combined with other strands of evidence, in order to gain new insight into the dynamics of textile production in Neopalatial Crete and to ascertain the types of textiles that could have been made.Til toppen






Jorie Johnson

Textile designer, Principle of Joi Rae Textiles

From Ancient to Anew, Felt Making Achievements


From Central nomadic survival to Tokyo fashion week, the traditional Silk Road craft of felt making started taking new turns towards the end of the 20th century. The first seven thousand years bore little functional change other than human protection, but in the last 40 years, after it’s rebirth in the American contemporary textile art scene, the technique has developed immensely due to freedom in expanding concepts and the availability of finer, dyed wools. Fashionable accessories made to adorn the body have really taken off, such as seamless berets with chic inlay silk fabric.

In another direction, felt’s elemental process of transformation, from fluffy wool to firm object,  has been combined with learning for children, rehabilitation movement for the physically and mentally challenged, as well as,  congenial activity in retirement homes for simply making friends. The industry sector, as well, has flourished due to hand felters’ passion for introducing new art and design ideas.

This talk introduces the contemporary felt clothing and interior works by textile designer Jorie Johnson, of Joi Rae Textiles, Kyoto. Johnson is an adjunct lecturer at several universities in Japan, researcher with the 8th c. Shoso-in Imperial Collection (Nara) and runs workshops explaining felt making through the unique capability of the wool fiber.Til toppen






Kerstin Andersson

Textile travelling expert, Kinaresor, Sweden

Why are people doing textile tours?


Since the middle of the nineties we cooperate with the National Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies and make roundtrips specialized in textiles and other kinds of handicraft. We have, during the time, made more than 30 different itineraries, but the most long-lived and the most famous one is the Textile tour in China.

The guests on these tours are mostly middle aged and older women, the few male guests are normally travelling with their wife. Many are textile teachers (in Sweden handicraft is a compulsory subject in schools), some work with textiles as designers and crafts persons. Most guests are just interested in the subject and are weaving, embroidering, knitting and so on as a hobby. By the years we have had many guests and also many guests who keep coming back. Some have become good friends after meeting during a handicraft tour. They all have skills in many different textile techniques and we learn a lot from each other.

All over the world handicraft skills are being ignored and much knowledge is lost when the old masters die and nobody is interested to go on with the production.

I believe that we are doing something good when we visit handicrafters who otherwise wouldn’t have received any encouragement at all. When they see that westerners are interested in their craft and that people want to buy their products they feel more hopeful for the future. All the same we have seen factories closed down and handicrafters who have retired with nobody to take over and we have had to find new places to visit.

The tours have developed during the time. Originally the tour was 12 days long and consisted only of study visits, now it is 17 days and includes a full day embroidery course and a half day workshop making a small Chinese dress, qipao. The latter was added to the program when I worked in the factory for one week. Til toppen





Laila Tyabji

Chairperson – DASTKAR Society for Crafts & Craftspeople

Threads & Voices – Traditional Craft in a Globalised World

My presentation is a personal journey, working with crafts and craftspeople all over India for the past 35 years. It highlights, through stories and case histories, the communities behind the threads and stitches; illustrating both the extraordinary potential of craft as a means of empowerment and earning, as well the problems and stereeotyping that often prevents this potential from being realised.
Traditional textile crafts in India carry their own cultural, social and emotive baggage, with designs, colours and motifs, each having their own significance, and different communities each having their own distinctive techniques and style.
So adapting these traditions to contemporary urban markets and global consumers has its own dangers and challenges. It requires sensitivity and awareness – creating trust and partnership between craftsperson and designer. Craftspeople are not just a passive
pair of hands, but creative artists and professionals in their own right.
I will discuss some of these issues, as well as the impact of global brands and international fashion icons on Indian consumer tastes, illustrating my talk with a powerpoint presentation.Til toppen





Linda Olofsson

BA, Archaeologist

Spinning in the Past and the Present

In archaeological contexts, the remains of textile tools bear witness of the process of making textiles. My presentation will provide an insight into different projects in experimental archaeology. In such studies, questions to the archaeological record are tested in practice. How were the tools used and what type of yarn and textiles could have been produced? The projects I will refer to were conducted at the Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Textile Research (CTR) and at the Centre for Historical-Archaeological Research and Communication at Lejre in Denmark.
I have participated myself in the projects both as artisan and archaeologist. The common aim was to investigate the function of the tools. The point of departure for both reconstructions and tests were archaeological finds of spindles, spindle whorls and loom weights. Around the world, there is still existing knowledge of textile techniques which we believe were used in prehistoric times. Different techniques have been used in different places, depending on what was to be produced, but also depending on traditions and local habits. Some have changed over time but are, however, still
regarded as traditional. In the projects I refer to, reconstructed spindles were tested using different spinning techniques inspired from local traditions, ranging from northern Sweden to southern Greece. Also different steps in the chaine operatoire of textile production have been systematically tested. The results from these projects can help understanding prehistoric production processes and societies as demonstrated in the Tools, Textiles and Contexts research programme at CTR.
However, similar to ethnographical analogies, we must bear in mind that the results of experimental archaeology will never explain exactly how something was done in prehistoric times.Til toppen





Maj G. Ringgaard

The National Museum of Denmark

Preserving the Danish Textile Heritage

Denmark possesses a unique collection of prehistoric costumes and textiles. Costumes that show us how the prehistoric man was dressed as well as they can tell us about beautiful and skilful textile crafts as they were performed in the past. The finds are mainly from bogs or from burials. Common for these textiles is they were recovered from waterlogged anoxic areas, surroundings that prevent rot and decay and thus possess a unique ability to preserve textile fibres until they again are exposed to oxygen.

So in Denmark we have a long experience in the preservation and conservation of archaeological found textiles - as well as historical textiles. We have a long tradition in preservation and during the years we have been, and still are, conducting research in the effects of different conservation methods and in optimising the treatments and their effects on preservation of the fragile textile finds. As many of the finds are from wet surroundings an important part is drying the finds without causing deformation and shrinkage. Most often the textile finds are freeze dried, and in the recent years a slow freeze drying at atmospheric pressure have been introduced as this minimises the risk for an over-drying of the fibres. As important as the conservation process is the minimizing of handling and the establishing of appropriate storing for the fragile textiles.

This paper will tell about the use of different conservation methods at the Danish National Museum, of handling and exhibition and storing facilities; and of the textile collections that consist of both many archaeological finds and a dress collection of more than 75.000 historic textiles. Among these are a big collection gathered by the turn of the 19th century, when traditionally clothing and decorative textile from a, at the time, vanishing rural culture was collected.

Understanding how to preserve the old textiles is important in order for the next generations to be able to study and admire the craftsmanship.Til toppen





Mary Petrina Boyd

Madaba Plains Project, Tall al ‘Umayri

Textile Tools of Tall al ‘Umayri

Sixteen seasons of excavation and survey have taken place at Tall al-`Umayri and vicinity. The site is located ca. 15 km south of Jordan's capital city, Amman, along the main highway to the airport.
Excavations have revealed material from the following periods: Early Bronze, Middle Bronze, Late Bronze, Early Iron I, Late Iron I, Iron IIb, Late Iron II/Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman. While the textiles once used by the inhabitants of Tall al ‘Umayri have vanished, we find the tools used to produce them: Spindle whorls, a few loom weights and needles. Production took place within the domestic sphere. This presentation will survey the material with special emphasis on the needles found at Tall al 'Umayri.Til toppen





Mary Harlow

Senior Lecturer, University of Leicester (and CTR)

History and Textiles: Making the Everyday Visible

Textiles and clothing are a self-evident part of the lived world in prehistoric and historic times, yet apart from in specialised areas of scholarship they are still largely ignored. This paper looks at recent scholarship of the ancient Roman world to survey where and in what context textile production is taken seriously and how much more work we still have to do to ensure that textile production, from raw material to finished cloth, becomes one of the ‘big themes’ of ancient history, sitting unapologetically alongside other themes such as food production, military conflicts and the lives of ‘big men’.
Much of the prejudices that exist in the blindness to the cultural, social and
economic value of traditional textile production today have been present in current works presenting antiquity. This paper will suggest ways of interdisciplinary interaction to avoid the continuation of this practice.Til toppen







Sophie Desrosiers

École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Centre de Recherches Historiques (EHESS-CRH)

The Reconstruction of Remarkable Textile Traditions of the Andean Highlands ca. 200 c.e.- 650 d.e.


The vast territory occupied by the Inca when the Spaniards reached Peru in 1532 comprises two main climatic regions: a dry desert Pacific coast and the moisture-rich extensive mountain range of the Andes. Thousands of pre-Columbian textiles, mainly in cotton and camelid fibres have been preserved on the coast, but very few in the highlands. In contrast, beautiful and meaningful weaving traditions continue until now in the highlands, while very little can be observed on the coast.
It is known that highland and coastal populations had established a dialogue in many domains including religion and art over the long durée, and that there might even be continuity of textile traditions within isolated regions of the highlands over extensive time periods up until the present day.
The author closely examined the principles of the present highland weaving traditions and looked for earlier evidence among the archaeological textiles and the other art forms bearing textile designs, which were preserved on the coast of Peru. By showing the close relationship between design composition and texture, and the fundamental weaving principles underlying their creation today, it has been possible to reconstruct highland textile traditions from the past in the absence of physical examples, based on their imitations created by their contemporaries: embroiderers, weavers, painters, sculptors and metallurgists of the south and central coasts of Peru.Til toppen




Susan Jones

Anthropology Department, Goldsmiths, University of London

Visibility and Invisibility – The dilemmas facing ‘traditional craft’ workers in the contemporary context


Reflecting on the case study of the Bani Hamida Weaving project in Jordan compared with other projects in Oman, Kuwait, Egypt and the Negev.

This presentation is concerned with the theme of visibility in relation to the experiences communities face when they try to use their traditional textile craft skills today. It is drawing on two sources of research. First, my PhD research findings (2006) – a 20 year longitudinal study - and my work with the Bani Hamida Bedouin women weavers in Makawir, Jordan up to today. Secondly, recent work I undertook (over the period 2009 – 2013) with those involved in ground loom weaving and embroidery heritage projects in Oman, Egypt, Kuwait and the Negev, in order to produce and edit a special issue of the journal Textile – The Journal of Cloth and Culture about the Middle East.

The presentation provides a short introduction to:

  • The multiplicity of issues facing the Jabal Bani Hamida community in Makawir: A long term view of how visibility and invisibility issues can change over time.
  • Considerations of these experiences in comparison with other projects in the Middle East: Some conclusions about the importance of understanding the multidimensional nature of visibility – the complex intermix of traditional craft skills, heritage products and contemporary demand, cultural and commercial concerns and the people involved - in creating a platform for a dialogue.Til toppen

Susanne Lervad

Terminologist, CTR

Textile Terminology and the Concept of Craft

The theme of textile terminologies in the frame of the workshop of textile crafts suits the first theme: «The retention and re-use of traditional terminology and the invention of new terms». This presentation will focus on the basic concepts of craft and design and how to define such concepts in relation to each other as examples of both practices and products.

  • A diachronic view of design and craft concepts will be presented to evaluate the impact on the societies they represent. The question addressed is the representation of concepts in a non-verbal or verbal way in order to visualise the often complicated structures in various societies.
  • The use of variations and synonyms will also be addressed and their associations to a historical or modern context with different perceptions of the same notions. Knowledge in the field is often tacit and complex both to learn and to maintain and the non-verbal means are important elements of language to pass on to the next generation. Examples of this cross-cultural context will be shown in the presentation.Til toppen




Toolika Gupta

PhD, guest scholar at CTR

Defining and Redefining ‘The Traditional’ in Indian Fashion


The word ‘Traditional’ signifies lack of change. When is something called ’traditional’? Is it when we want it to become traditional, create an image or identity, or is it because it actually is? In India people and clothes are either labelled as traditional or as modern. Indian costumes have become rather clichéd and seem to have fossilized in time.
The motive for this research was to find out ‘how traditional is traditional after all’. The origins of most of the rich Indian textiles are lost in time, but the textiles continue to be a major value adding factor in Indian fashion.
Fashion oriented studies are rather a new field in India. The curiosity was to find out how old in time is Indian traditional costume? A survey of costumes and clothing styles of early modern India and the major changes faced by the subcontinent as a result of the British Raj, show serious identity changes in Indians.
This paper focusses on traditional Indian menswear and tries to understand the reasons for it becoming traditional in roughly a100 years, as opposed to the age of Indian Civilization which is believed to be 5000 years old.Til toppen






Valentina Gamba

UNESCO Amman Office, Culture Sector

Empowering Rural Women in the Jordan Valley: a project linking textile production and development

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