Cover image for World textiles : a concise history
World textiles : a concise history
Schoeser, Mary.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Thames & Hudson, [2003]

Physical Description:
224 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 21 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK8806 .S346 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



From the earliest needles of 25,000 years ago to techno textiles used in Space Shuttle parachutes today, textiles have been fundamental to human existence and achievements, and have informed developments in other areas from agriculture to metallurgy. Textiles are global commodities, common to every culture and for a long time the motivation for trade, the exchange of ideas, and sometimes even conflict. Silks from China, carpets from Persia, ikats from Indonesia, cottons from India, fine linens from Flanders--each of these has helped to shape the modern world. This groundbreaking book surveys, from prehistory to the early twenty-first century, how textiles are made, what they are made from, how they function in society, the ways in which they are valued and given meaning, and the messages they contain. The author shows the intricate relationships between different cultures' textile traditions and demonstrates the significance of the materials we all take for granted in our everyday lives.

Author Notes

Mary Schoeser is a textile historian and curator who has advised English Heritage, the National Trust, Liberty of London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is Senior Research Fellow at the University of the Arts, London.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

These two surveys range widely in their coverage of textile arts, which continue to gain ground in both scholarship and popular awareness. In her first book, London designer Cole primarily offers a visual tour. The organization, which works through a general geographic and then chronological arrangement, seems a bit awkward and strained. The page layout is stylish, however, and the colorful illustrations of patterns create a book with a lot of eye appeal. The text mainly consists of captions for each illustration, with a very short introduction for each chapter pulling the themes together. Aimed at lay readers, this book is more comprehensive than Susan Meller and Joost Elffers's Textile Designs, which is nevertheless better organized. Public or academic collections would benefit from having both. Renowned textiles expert and author Schoeser (International Textile Design) has crafted a compact history of textiles for Thames & Hudson's paperback "World of Art" series. Arranged roughly into chronological periods, the book meticulously details technique, materials, and designs and puts them in historical and cultural context. This is truly a fantastic history of textile arts. The pictures are a bit disappointing, smallish and sometimes in black and white. But the text itself is a delight to read and more comprehensive than in other comparable works, such as Textiles: 5,000 Years, edited by Jennifer Harris. Whereas Harris's book is much more visually stunning, Schoeser's is a definitive history, highly readable and intriguing. Highly recommended for all collections.-Karen Ellis, Nicholson Memorial Lib. Syst., Garland, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The topic is huge, the book is small, but on these pages Schoeser has packed a large amount of information. Her own long history of involvement with textiles has undoubtedly made it possible to link many facts in a unique way with her avowed aims. Not a country-by-country account, hers is a very successful effort to use textiles as indicators of how human cultures have used all of the complexities relating to textiles as a global commodity and for personal identity and ritual. Of all artifacts humans have produced, clearly this one has a unique place because of its continuity from the Paleolithic period to the present. Chapter headings clearly indicate Schoeser's methods of analysis: "Prehistoric Materials and Techniques," "The Dye and Loom Age, c.3000-400 BC," "Trade and Trends, 750 BC to AD 600," "Church and State, 600-1500," "Western Ideas and Styles Dispersed, 1300-1900," "Oriental Influences, 1450-1900," "Surface Patterning from Indigo to Ikat, 600-1900," "The Important of Cotton and Linen, 1500-1950," "New Technology, 1600-2000," "The Art of Textiles, 1850-Today." There are many color and black-and-white illustrations, each with lengthy and informative legends. Glossary; geographical and subject indexes. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All libraries; general readers and lower-division undergraduates through professionals. L. G. Kavaljian California State University, Sacramento

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 7
Chapter 1 Prehistoric Materials and Techniquesp. 10
Chapter 2 The Dye and Loom Age c. 3000-400 BCp. 28
Chapter 3 Trade and Trends 750 BC to AD 600p. 50
Chapter 4 Church and State AD 600-1500p. 74
Chapter 5 Western Ideas and Styles Dispersed 1300-1900p. 90
Chapter 6 Oriental Influences 1450-1900p. 112
Chapter 7 Surface Patterning from Indigo to Ikat 600-1900p. 134
Chapter 8 The Importance of Cotton and Linen 1500-1950p. 156
Chapter 9 New Technology 1600-2000p. 176
Chapter 10 The Art of Textiles 1850-Todayp. 194
Glossaryp. 214
Acknowledgments for Illustrations
Geographical Index
Subject Index