There are 4 other images of this object. This object has no known copyright, and as such we offer a high-resolution image of it. See our image rights statement.


Object Timeline


  • We acquired this object.






  • You found it!

Purse, early 19th century

This is a Purse. It is dated early 19th century and we acquired it in 1951. Its medium is silk, wire; silk lining and its technique is needle knotting (bebilla or oya), silk satin lining. It is a part of the Textiles department.

This charming purse from Turkey was likely produced for the growing market of foreign visitors as international tourism developed in the nineteenth century. It was made using a hooked needle similar to a tambour hook. The technique is an Eastern Mediterranean form of needle knotting, alternately known as bebilla, bibila or oya, and it produces an open, knotted net that is well-suited for the production of small, delicate trims of pendant-style flowers most often used on embroidered items or costume. At some point in the nineteenth century, larger accessories like this purse were produced, most likely in response to European interest in the technique. At first glance, the design seems conventional, but a small camel located on the top left gives it a hint of exoticism. Based on its pristine condition, it was likely tucked away and never used by its original owner.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled A Souvenir from Turkey.

This object was donated by Richard Cranch Greenleaf (American, 1887–1961). It is credited Gift of Richard C. Greenleaf.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 21 x 20 cm (8 1/4 x 7 7/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Purse, early 19th century; silk, wire; silk lining; H x W: 21 x 20 cm (8 1/4 x 7 7/8 in.); Gift of Richard C. Greenleaf; 1951-105-19

This object may be subject to Copyright or other restrictions.

You are welcome to make fair use of this image under U.S. Copyright law and in compliance with our terms of use. Please note that you are responsible for determining whether your use is fair and for responding to any claims that may arise from your use.

For higher resolution or commercial use contact ArtResource.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Purse, early 19th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=20 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>