Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario


Copyright 2006 by the author.


Traditional marriage ceremonies in the Epirus (Ípeiros) region of northwestern Greece were some of the most extravagant wedding celebrations among the Greeks on the mainland and islands. The textiles produced for the young bride’s trousseau were as elaborate as the celebrations. They included garments for her and her husband and textiles for their home. These textiles tell us many things about the region’s political, economic and artistic history. Ottoman Empire held the Greek mainland and islands in their control for centuries leaving their mark in many aspects of daily life and the arts and as an extension of arts in textiles.

Among the mainland regions of Greece, Epirus has a special place in the study of Greek textiles, especially embroidery. It presents an entirely different embroidery style from that of the Greek islands with which it is often associated. This is due to two factors; Epirus was geographically situated among trade routes and its political and artistic history was closely associated with the Ottoman Empire’s. This paper presents the story of how the Ottoman Turkish and Greek political, economic, and artistic histories are intertwined in the period preceding the 19th century.

As one of the major artistic outputs, the Epirus embroidered textiles were a means of communicating cultural values by exhibition designs and techniques that are Greek. But they utilized certain Ottoman motifs in their designs. The way these textiles were used in the domestic environment also reflects Ottoman sensibilities. We may argue that the embroidered textiles may have served as a medium for social cohesion. The ways some of these textiles were used in daily life and the clues in the scenes depicted on some of them reveal how integral the Ottoman way of life was to the Epirus society.