At the end of the 18th century embroidery designs began to develop into rigid and heavily stylised borders for towels and napkins. The colours of 18th and 19th century embroideries were originally very bright but many have faded to pleasing pastel shades; often great quantities of metal thread were used. Napkins were mainly used to clean fingers during meals, but were also used as decoration and as covers. Their designs were consistently inventive.
Towel of embroidered cotton with silk and metal threads, Turkey, 1800-1899
Towel or napkin of embroidered cotton with silk in double running variations and combinations and musabak, and metal thread in slanted satin stitch, and with plate worked in satin stitch filling in squares.
The narrow border along either end is decorated with a closely packed meander with blossoms in shades of pink and green. The main border contains five bowls, each with a large central blossom topped by sprays of smaller flowers and leaves. Between each bowl is a slender cypress tree. The predominant colour is pink and the exact use of colour alternates from one motif to another. One side has been cut and hemmed.