Object Timeline

1951

  • We acquired this object.

1980

1996

2014

2015

2020

  • 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 Week 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

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

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=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18386557/ |title=Purse, early 19th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=31 October 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>