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'The Gown'

Hidden treasures from the Palmwood Wreck

In the spring of 2016, the presentation of the resurfaced seventeenth-century dress from the Palmwood Wreck made headlines throughout the world, but many more objects were salvaged from the same wreck. Every object tells a unique story and contains various clues pertaining to the origins of the wreck, and to the possible owner of the dress.

The objects were found in a wreck that sank on the Roads of Texel. For a long time, this so called Palmwood wreck laid buried under the sand; its presence was unknown all that time. Little by little, we are learning more about this extraordinary ship.

Lahore carpet

Several fragments of a remarkable oriental carpet were found among the different textiles of the Palmwood Wreck. It concerns a knotted carpet made from wool and silk, featuring an exotic design with animal scenes. Among others, a lion attacking an ox is clearly visible, as well as a pair of dragon heads. During the seventeenth century, these types of carpets were manufactured in the region of Lahore (in modern-day Pakistan).

Only a handful of carpets and carpet fragments with comparable scenes still exist today. It is assumed that oriental carpets featuring animal scenes were only brought to the Netherlands in very small numbers.

The Gown

One of the most remarkable objects from the find is the complete gown. There are still many unanswered questions. Years of investigation will be necessary before it becomes clear what the origin and significance is of this clothing find with royal allure. At any rate, it is clear that it concerns a unique find worldwide; almost nowhere in the world any clothing from the 17th century has been preserved.

The gown probably dates back to the first half of the 17th century. That makes it almost 400 years old. In this period, clothing such as this was not referred to as a dress. In the 17th century, outer dresses extending to one’s feet were called gowns.

The gown is made of silk. The fabric is woven in damask, embroidered with a floral pattern. It is almost certain that the original gown was only one color. From the wide use of silk and the model, it is clear that this dress belonged to a woman from higher society. No silver or gold thread has been found in the dress, although it has been discovered in other textile in the find. It’s possible that it was meant for ‘daily use’.

The other objects

In addition to clothing, interior textiles and personal belongings the divers also found practical items like pottery from Italy, a gilded silver chalice and scents from Greece or Turkey. In addition, a number of book covers emerged.

The covers are different sizes and some have locks of brass and leather. The coat of arms from the English King Charles 1 (1600-1649) is embedded on the front and back of this book cover.

Diving into Details

The exhibition Diving into Details gives visitors a sneak peek at the intriguing research focussing on the unique discoveries from the Palmwood Wreck. The newest investigations will be showcased in a large touchscreen. Of course the research on dazzling dress will play a role in the exhibition, but the other objects will also be extensively showcased.

Some of the most spectacular finds will be exhibited in a custom display case as part of a rotating exhibition. Over the coming months the focus will be on the unique fragments of the Lahore Carpet.

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