Souvenirs from the Middle East, 1961

As I was scrolling through the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Open Access collection, I saw a little bag very similar to one I have.  It came to me through my husband’s family, but as some family members were missionaries, some worked overseas for the CIA, and some traveled the world, I didn’t know where it came from, or exactly how it got here.

Crocheted bag with camel motifs.


The Cleveland camel bag is under copyright, so I will only link to it and not use their image here.  Theirs is red with all the patterning in white, but otherwise it looks the same, down to the little rows of contrasting stitches.  They state that it is crocheted of rayon, from the 1950s and made in Syria.

That gave me the information I needed — my husband’s grandparents, Will and Hazel, sailed across the Atlantic in 1961.  They spent most of their time in Greece, where their daughter was living.  But they toured Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria as well.  They wrote long letters home about everything they saw, but they never mentioned what souvenirs they were buying — probably they wanted to surprise the recipients with them when they got home.  It’s looking more likely that the costumed Greek dolls I have were purchased on this same trip.

This postcard was sent from Lebanon.  Another, sent the same day, said that they were going to Damascus the next day.

1961 postcard of a shepherd, sent from Lebanon.

This little cap was stored inside the camel bag, and is also crocheted from rayon.  It seems very similar in technique to me, so I would guess it is also from Syria.

Crocheted cap with eight-pointed star.

(I am sorry, but no matter how many times I scanned these items, the scanner would jump in one place or another, leading to streaks in the scan.)

I am so glad to find out more about these items, and I encourage you to look at the Cleveland Museum’s online textile collection.  (Well, you can look at any of their collections, but please be sure to give the textile collection some love.  It is my mission in life to make sure these museums know there is a demand for textile knowledge.)  Their website loads quickly, it’s easy to navigate, and there is information given about each piece.  The images are stunning, and best of all, you can zoom in and see all sorts of detail!