Russian Double-Faced Kashmir Style Shawls

Maleyne Syracuse

Monday, February 12, 2018

Imported Kashmir shawls were essential fashion accessories for stylish women in nineteenth-century Europe. Kashmir-style shawls came to be produced in Europe as local manufacturers capitalized on demand. While French and British shawls are well known, perhaps the most unique and luxurious shawls were produced in Russia in the first half of the nineteenth century. The Russian versions, born of the adaptation of traditional rug weaving techniques to the new fashion, are very fine, perfectly double-faced textiles. Made by talented and skilled enslaved serf artisans, Russian shawls provide a fascinating example of a global textile shaped by trade, nationalism, traditional technology, and the local economy.

Maleyne Syracuse is an independent decorative arts scholar. She received her MA with Honors from the Parsons New School for Design/Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum joint program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design. She volunteers in Cooper Hewitt’s Textile Department, researching and writing about the collection. She has presented papers at New Directions, the Textile Society of America’s 14th Biennial Symposium, at Color/Forms, Parsons/Cooper Hewitt’s 24th Annual Decorative Arts and Design Graduate Symposium, and at CrossCurrents: Land, Labor, and the Port, the Textile Society of America’s 15th Biennial Symposium. She recently authored an essay for Out of Pixels, a 2017 book on the work of Danish weaver Grethe Sørensen. Maleyne is the President of the Board of Directors of Peters Valley School of Craft and an avocational weaver and felt maker. Maleyne retired as a Managing Director at JP Morgan, after more than 25 years in investment banking. She received a BA from Brown University and an MBA from New York University Graduate School of Business.