Yemeni Threads: a Presentation by Marjorie Ransom

A unique presentation on Yemeni textiles and costumes

Yemeni Threads 
The mountainous terrain of northern Yemen and the vast expanses of desert in the southern part of the country have long separated Yemenis into discrete communities, each with their own designs and motifs. Marjorie Ransom will introduce you to this remote and beautiful country and its weavings with a richly illustrated presentation. Her book on Yemeni jewelry, Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba, will also be on display. In addition to silver-work, the book also presents twenty-six costumes and six textiles.

Ms. Ransom will display two rare textiles she is researching, as well as an example of tablet weaving that was the work of Yemeni Jews. The costumes on display will highlight the indigo-dyed fabric worn in the cooler northern climate and the densely embroidered costumes of the flat Tihamah coastal plain that borders the Red Sea. Her costumes from the south display Syrian and Indian fabrics of silk and cotton feature couched, twisted silver thread embroidery.

Marjorie Ransom lived twice as a US diplomat in Yemen in a career that also took her to India, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, and Egypt. She and her late husband David Ransom assembled a large collection of jewelry and costumes during their postings. Since retirement, Ms. Ransom has lectured widely about Middle East jewelry and wrote several articles. The Bead Museum in Washington, DC hosted an exhibit of her jewelry, Silver Speaks: Traditional Jewelry of the Middle East in 2002-3; the exhibit traveled to locations in New York and Michigan in 2005-7. In 2006-7, Ms. Ransom lent 78 pieces from her collection to the exhibit, Symbols of Identity — Jewelry of Five Continents, at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego. In 2008 she co-curated an exhibit of her jewelry, Female Adornment from Bilad al-Sham (Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria), at the Jerusalem Fund in Washington, DC. With research grants, Marjorie Ransom spent a year in Yemen during the years 2004-9 studying traditional silver jewelry and crafts. The American University in Cairo Press published a book of her findings, Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba: Yemeni Regional Jewelry, in June 2014; through the end of last March they had sold 1500 copies.