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A 19th-century bikini from Iran goes on show in the UK in time for the summer

The garment was conserved for the Holburne Museum’s exhibition of objects collected by the “intrepid” traveller Ellen Tanner

 

Bazaar find: the sequined top was bought in Persia in the 1890s
Bazaar find: the sequined top was bought in Persia in the 1890s Courtesy of the Holburne Museum, Bath

This bikini top was acquired by the brave Victoria traveler Ellen Tanner (1847-1937) in the Middle East in the 1890s and was preserved before the Tanner Middle East Art Collection in Holnerne. One of the more unusual items. Museum in Bath, southwest England (until October 21). Tanner picked wool and silk embroidered clothing in modern Iran because she accompanied her two guides to accompany her on horseback through the area. The curator of the show, Catlin Jones, said: “At that time, she may be the second woman to go to the Middle East alone.” She collects secular objects – metal vases, sculptures, teacups, lacquered cards and textiles. – She bought from the markets of Shiraz, Isfahan and Kerman, which can be seen as “what was bought in Persia in the 19th century,” Jones said.

In addition to being flat and severely deformed in the drawer, the sequins on the bikini top have lost their luster and require good cleaning. “We don’t want it to look as good as new – we want to show that it has been worn,” she said. She said that this dress was originally worn at home, “not at the market.” Other processed works include forged steel peacocks inlaid with fine gold and silver, which are so corroded that Jones initially did not know that it had inlays. Since joining the museum four years ago, the series has been Jones’ “protection wish list.” Approximately £50,000 was raised through crowdfunding activities to cover protection, exhibition and publishing expenses. “We are able to save more than half of the 85-piece set,” she said. The show is the first chance for many people to see the series. “People linked Holborn to the portraits of the 18th century and the history of Bath. These items undoubtedly provide a more comprehensive view of the museum,” Jones said.

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