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International Textile Collection

ITC Collection guide image

We are in the process of migrating the ITC collection to the Special Collections catalogue. As such, access is currently provided through the ULITA website. Once migration is complete the ULITA site will be turned off.

The International Textile Collection (ITC) is made up of several distinct collections of world textiles, along with related objects, documents and manuscripts.  It dates from Ancient Egyptian to the present day, with the greater part covering the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Highlights of the collection include:

• European Fragments
• Egyptian Textiles
• Textiles of the Indian Subcontinent
• Indonesian Textiles
• Japanese Collection
• Kashmir Shawl Collection
• the Louisa Pesel Collection and Archive: collected (Mediterranean) and created textiles
• Qing Dynasty Textiles
• Sample and Pattern Books
• West African Textiles

What’s in the Collection

The collection is particularly rich in embroideries from China and the Mediterranean region, resists and weaves from Indonesia, India and West Africa, and European woven samples.
The British and French pattern book collection charts woven silks, velvets and wools from 1840s to 1970s, whilst the Louisa Pesel Collection is an outstanding archive of a remarkable educator in the art of embroidery. There are also small but notable collections of Egyptian children’s garments, Tibetan thangkas, Japanese stencils and pattern books, and Kashmir shawls.
The collection will be of interest to researchers of fibre, technique, pattern, symbols, colour, design history, religion, social history, manufacturing history, handicrafts, education, museum and cultural studies.

History of the Collections

In the late 19th century professors in the Department of Textile Industries collected European fabrics in order to create pattern books as teaching resources for students of woven textile design. In 1892 a teaching Museum was established, which was later described as the best of its type outside of London.
Local textiles firms, academics (including Head of Department Professor Aldred Barker and Vice Chancellor Sir Michael Sadler), students and associates continued to donate. With donations from China, India and Egypt, the collection soon took on an international theme.
By the 1960s this was a research collection within the Departmental Library. In 2004 an International Textiles Archive known as ULITA was established in St Wilfred's Chapel. This transferred to the Library in 2019. As an early established academic collection, it is now exemplary in containing many early and rare pieces.

How the collection is arranged

The majority of items in this collection have a unique individual number which will be preceded by ITC.