Threading words together
Amongst its textual treasures, the Mitchell Library holds two textiles associated with Captain Cook. One is a silk sampler printed with a late eighteenth-century map of the world embroidered with the routes of Cook's three voyages. Threads of empire stretch across a globe framed in a wreath of delicately embroidered English garden flowers - roses, heart's ease and auricula. The other textile is an unfinished waistcoat worked in coloured silks (supposedly by Cook's mother) in the anticipation that he would wear it at court on returning from his third voyage. The long and short stitch, spangles and tambour-work characteristic of English eighteenth-century embroidery have been stitched on Tahitian tapa cloth, probably given to Cook on his first voyage. This can be read both as the imperial centre inscribing its culture on that of indigenous peoples as well as the hybridity generated by British exploration and colonisation (Fletcher 11-12).
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