Yes, yes, I know. First Japanese baskets, now…what? Zoroastrian trouser panels?
I visited the London Antique Rug and Textile Art Fair (LARTA) on Tuesday evening, and two stalls had some very striking cloth panels composed of embroidered strips sewn together.
When I asked about them I was told that they are Zoroastrian trouser panels. The Zoroastrians lived in Persia (modern Iran), and these trousers were worn by women, as these photos from the Victoria and Albert Museum show.
Fine cotton fabric that can be gathered is used for the top of the trousers and for the “cuff” at the bottom of each leg, while a stronger, coarser cotton is used as a backing for the embroidered strips.
The strips may be silk or fine cotton and are embroidered with motifs from Zoroastrian myths, such as a three-legged donkey, a kar fish or cypress trees.
The seams between the strips are disguised by couching – placing a thread on top of the seam and stitching to hold it in place.
According to the V&A, strips of block-printed cotton were used on the inside of each leg, “partly because printing was cheaper than embroidery and that part of the trousers would not been seen. Also, the inner leg is subjected to much wear and tear and printed fabric would have been cheaper to replace.” Having darned my jeans recently, I can vouch for that!
So there you are. Zoroastrian trouser panels – they’re a thing. You heard it here first.
Next time back to something more mundane, like felting or dyeing. 😉