Mat, whitework embroidery with needle lace border, cotton, maker unknown, probably China, 1953-2001
Across cultures, embroidery and crochet has a long tradition of being an important pastime of women, particularly during the late 19th to mid 20th century. Embroidery and crochet provided a much needed creative outlet for some and a restful leisure activity for others, as a way to commemorate significant events or supplement the family income. Mats, doilies, and embroidery and crochet work more generally, was an affordable way to personalise and add aesthetic value to the home and were used also in protecting furniture, floors and walls, and keeping insects away from food.
This white work embroidery mat with needle lace border forms part of an extensive collection of textiles, dress and handiwork assembled from 1953 to 2001 by Mrs Helen McLeod Crocker, traveller and collector. Almost thirty countries are represented in the collection including Afghanistan, Australia, Bali, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Central America, Central Asia, China, Europe, India, Japan, Kenya, Lao, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Salvador, Somalia, South America, Syria, Thailand, The Ivory Coast, Turkey and Yemen. Helen was very selective in the objects she acquired and the inspiration for her collection originated from her desire to preserve the true essence of the societies she encountered.
This mat was probably produced in China, by an unknown maker, between 1953-2001.