Newsletter No. 6-08 (Oct. 2008)   Page 2 of 3 / Sidan 2 av 3. [back to page 1]
Arcive/Arkiv 2007: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]
Arcive/Arkiv 2008: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]


This newsletter is written in order to spread experiences within the topic of historic textiles and reconstructions. Our ambition is to amuse you and stimulate interest in the 18th Century. Durán Textiles, who is mainly working with museum collections and Royal Castles, was founded in 2002 by CEO and production manager Laila Durán, with co-worker artist Torkel Henriksson who is doing the artworks and preparing the designs for production. Our production is done mostly in India supervised by Duran Textiles inspectors. 
- The articles are mainly written by Laila Durán but we also have help from colleagues and specialists from several museums and universities.  In the future this newsletter will be distributed four times a year and is free of charge. We hope you will enjoy our stories and offers and help us to spread the letter to friends and colleagues. Contact:

Detta nyhetsbrev skrivs för att sprida erfarenheter inom ämnet rekonstruktioner av historiska textiler och 1700-talet. Ambitionen är att roa och stimulera intresset. Durán Textiles har varit verksamt sedan 2002 och arbetar med projekt för Kungliga Slott och museisamlingar i hela Skandinavien. Laila Durán är VD och projektledare, Torkel Henriksson arbetar med originalen och alla förlagor för tryck och väv. På plats i Indien, där de flesta av tygerna produceras, finns Durán Textiles egna inspektörer.
- Artiklarna skrivs huvudsakligen av Laila Durán men vi får även hjälp av kollegor och specialister från olika muséer och universitet.  Nyhetsbrevet kommer i fortsättningen att komma ut fyra gånger per år och är helt kostnadsfritt. Vi hoppas ni ska uppskatta våra artiklar och erbjudanden och även sprida informationen vidare till Era vänner. Kontakt:



Flora - a silk damask of Chinese origin.
Text Martin Ciszuk.

When Durán Textiles searched for fabrics to reproduce for our first collection of historic silks my attention was paid to a man’s waistcoat in blue silk damask. It is dated to the 1770-ies and was preserved at Herrborum manor in Södemanland, central Sweden. The same silk damask, but in green colour, was used in a lady’s jacket in the collection of the county museum of Gotland, Fornsalen in Visby. Furthermore I detected the fabric used as green bed hangings in the royal bedchamber of King Karl XIV Johan, originally at Stockholm castle, but now in Rosendal castle, also in Stockholm. To my great surprise, one day a colleague researcher showed me a dress in the same silk damask in wine red colour. She had bought it at a second-hand store for 80 SEK (about 85€ or 12$) and intended to cut it up to use as material in embroidery samples… Joins, pleats and seam marks showed that the dress was indeed made from a reused 18th century fabric! I used the wide panels to trace the complete pattern repeat on plastic film. This was later used when the design drawing was made. Considering all these Swedish examples it seemed feasible that the damask was of Swedish 18th century production.

Technically, the fabric can be described as silk damask with ground in warp effect and pattern in weft effect of 8-end satin. There are ca 140 warp ends and 40 wefts in one centimetre. The width of the silk is ca 73 cm including selvedges. The pattern is repeated 3 times over the width of the fabric and is 62 cm high. From this it can be calculated that the loom used had 8 rising and 8 depressing shafts, 8 treadles and about 600 draw cords where the pattern was marked with ca 1000 leaches. A draw boy- a weaver’s assistant working beside or on top of the loom – pulled the draw cords according to the leashes, to create the pattern simultaneously as the weaver was weaving.

Other silk damask from the 18th century are often made in 5-end satin, are only ca 50 cm wide and have a mirrored pattern repeat. Compared to this our damask was a bit odd. The explanation for this came when I visited the textile archives at Metropolitan Museum in New York. By chance the conservator opened a box where a piece of this same silk damask happened to be stored. I told about the Swedish examples of the fabric but the curator explained that this was a Chinese silk. All then fell into place. Our reproduced damask was originally imported by the Swedish East Indian Trading Company. A closer look at the design reveals that the design is a mix of Chinese and European elements. Apparently the fabric was produced in China for the European market.

In the archives of the Swedish East Indian Trading Company records can be found about the goods that were shipped to the western port Gothenburg from Canton, modern Guangzhou, in China. In 1777 the ship Adolf Fredrik unshipped 50 bolts of ”Meuble Damast” - furnishing damask, and in 1780 the ship Gustav III brought 150 bolts of damask in two design in several colours. 1804 there was a sale announced in Gothenburg of 20 pieces of blue and 10 pieces of green damask each piece measuring ca 27 ¾ ell in length and 5 quarter ell in width. The Swedish ell was 0,593802 m which gives that the pieces were about 16,5 m long and 74 cm wide. The specified width corresponds to the analysed fabrics and we could be safe to say that the preserved silks are examples from some of these cargos. The Swedish East Indian Trading Company was active 1731-1813. Apparently the fabric was produced during a long time in the second half of the 18th century. Despite the specification as furnishing fabric the preserved examples show that the silk damask was used both for interior and as well as clothing.

Damasks with the same design are, however, also found in collections in the US. A panel of buff colour is in the collections of Colonial Williamsburg, and a brown dress dated to the 1780-ies in the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, New York. The English East Indian Trading Company was not allowed to sell Chinese silks in England, because of the protection of the local silk industry. Instead the silks were shipped to and sold in the colonies. The green silk damask of a man’s jacket in the Museum of Norwegian Cultural History, Oslo, could have arrived via England who had a considering merchant contact with Norway in the 18th century.

Durán Textiles has named the reproduced damask Flora. It is woven in green and blue as the waistcoat and the jacket, but also in bright red, yellow and black, with the Swedish folk costumes as inspiration. Red damask of this nuance is used in bodices in Mora, Dalecarlia and yellow damask in Västra Vingåker, Södermanland. The silk damask is of course suitable as interior fabric both for period style furniture as well as in combination with modern design.


Swedish East Indian Company archive, university library of Gothenburg:

Leanna Lee-Whithman, The Silk Trade - Cinese Silks and the Brittish East India Company. Winterthur Portfolio, vol 17, no 1 Spring 1982.

Linda Baumgarten, What clothes reveal Yale University press 2002.

Robe française/ Sack dress made from the silk damask Flora.
Photo: Laila Durán.



Rococo chair upholstered with the reproduced silk Flora.

Man’s waistcoat 1770-ies, Herrborum manor, Östergötland, central Sweden.

Man’s jacket 1780-1800 Museum of Norwegian Cultural History, Oslo.

Dress made in1960-tal from reused 18th century fabric, private collection.

Bodice of Swedish folk costume from Mockfjärd, Hälsingland, northen Sweden, made in mid 18th century from reused fabric. Now in the collections of the textile department of the open-air ethnological museum, Skansen, Stockholm.

Waistcoat made from damask Flora, Durán Textiles collection.

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