This charming purse from Turkey likely was 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 referred to 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 commonly used on larger embroidered items or costume. At some point in the nineteenth century, more sophisticated accessories like this purse were produced, most likely in response to European interest in the technique. At first glance, the design appears to be a conventional arrangement of flowers in a vase. Generous trimmings of pendant flowers, leaves and sprigs decorate the sides and top. However, a small camel located on the top left gives it a hint of exoticism and reveals its intended audience – the foreign tourist. Based on its pristine condition, it probably was tucked away and never used by its original owner.
- Needle-knotted purse, Turkey, Gift of Richard C. Greenleaf, 1951-105-19.