Rabat Embroidered Chest Cover
This embroidered chest cover was made in Rabat, Morocco circa 1900. The maker used a range of brightly colored silk floss to create a pattern of bouquets encircled by floral chains, framed by a border of maroon silk stripes interspersed with still more flowers. The embroidery is completely reversible, in the style of “modern” Rabat embroidery.
Rabat, a city that started as a small Phoenician outpost in 3rd century B.C., grew into the cosmopolitan capital of Morocco through a history immigration and shifting power. That history, particularly the influx of Andalusian refugees in the 17th century, had a substantial impact on the textile traditions of the city. Much of the embroidery Rabat is now known for comes from Andalusian traditions and from Rabati embroiderers adapting their own designs from 18th and 19th century European styles.
Embroidery from Rabat is usually categorized as “old” or “modern” based on the technique, colors, and designs the needle-worker chose to use. This chest cover is of the “modern” style, because of its bright poly-chrome design, its reversibility, and its exuberant floral design. A similar example is in the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s collection.
Circa: circa 1900
Origin: Rabat, Morocco
Material: Silk on figured linen
Condition: Black embroidery yarn oxidized and partly worn, some patched tears to edge, otherwise good
Dimensions: 50" x 37"
Inventory number: TX4145