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Marghab linens on exhibition at SDAM
May '08
Hand-embroidered linens, the likes of which adorned tables in royal palaces and embassies, are on display at the South Dakota Art Museum, will be on display through March 22, 2009.

South Dakota native Vera Way Marghab and her husband, Emile Marghab, started Marghab Ltd. in 1934 with strict standards of quality that made their linens famous and desirable.

The pieces sold in some of the finest stores in Kansas City, New York, Los Angeles, and Sydney, Australia as well as many world communities.

The South Dakota Art Museum houses over 2,500 Marghab linens, the largest collection in the world. A variety of pieces are on display for the “Men and Women Behind Marghab” exhibition, from delicate sets of place-setting linens to large tablecloths.

The linens, created between the 1930s and 1970s, were set apart in terms of their fine quality of work and their effective marketing.

Each piece received careful inspection for excellence and finish before distribution.

The process of creating the delicate designs that embellish the linens took the cooperation of 300 workers on the island of Madeira off the coast of Morocco.

Around 200 women embroidered from their countryside homes and some 90 people worked as designers, pattern makers, stampers, finishers, laundresses and clerks to prepare the linen for embroidery and then to get them ready for shipment.

“Too often the creators or makers of objects such as these are overlooked,” said Lisa Scholten, curator of collections at SDAM.

“It was important to us to acknowledge the many people who contributed to the beauty and excellence of these hand-embroidered linens,” she said of the exhibition.

Black and white images of the Marghab Madeira employees help visitors put a “name, face and person to the process,” according to Scholten.

South Dakota State University

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