Object of the Week: Manuscripted notebook of Brazil’s first school of textile manufacturing

Rita Andrade's picture

Submitted by:

Rita M Andrade

PhD in Cultural History at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo

MA in the History of Textiles and Dress at the University of Southampton. Lecturer in the Post-Graduate Art and Visual Culture Programme at Universidade Federal de Goiás. 

Particularly interested in investigating the history of dress and textiles in Brazil (in the perspectives of material and visual culture), their cultural heritage (with an emphasis on Brazilian museums' collections) and their relation to contemporary culture.


This rare manuscript is a notebook with detailed notes and apparently containing complete lessons of the first course in weaving in São Paulo, Brazil. Altogether there are 135 pages in good conservation condition but aging stains. On

the first page it reads:

"My Course in


'First School of


Professor - Director

Mr. José da Silva Spider Haydu .

Sao Paulo 1945.

(signed) Alves G. Quarry "


The notebook contains technical descriptions of a range of textile yarns, fabrics , patterns with material samples and analysis. There are fine handmade graphs and drawings of spinning and weaving techniques richly detailed.

There are many reasons why this manuscript deserves to be studied from the perspective of material culture, such as :

1. it indicates the method of teaching applied in São Paulo, which may be an indication of the mode of operation of the national textile industry in the period and of international influences over it;

2 . it contains fabric samples that can be analyzed and compared to the period textile manufacturing, checking, for example, production of fashion articles in the nascent Brazilian industry;

3 . there are written details about the mode of production of each type of fabric and its form of consumption, which can be interesting to the history of the industry but also to the social and cultural history;

4. much more can be addressed through the study of this extraordinary notebook in terms of design, textile manufacturing education, object biography, material and visual culture studies related to textiles and fashion design and manufacturing.  

I have just started "looking" at it to think about a project on object-based research and will appreciate to hear about similar objects or any other suggestions you may have. 

What an exciting piece of material culture! I'd also be interested to hear about existing scholarship on textile education such as weaving schools, apprenticeship models, etc.

Thanks for sharing this, and I look forward to hearing more about the manuscript as you learn more about it!


Arianna E. Funk

Independent Fashion Historian