Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vintage Picaninny Towels


Picaninny dish towels, 
appliqued and embroidered by my Grandma, 
many years ago.

I think they are cute little girls. 
But in today's world would they be considered offensive?  Racially insensitive?

What do you think?


These towels have seen better days. 
There are several holes, stains and some missing stitches.
But I treasure them just the same.

Linking to Vintage Thingie Thursday @ The Colorado Lady

32 comments:

  1. I love them, they are very cute! I am told that the word 'picaniny' is racially offensive?? I love the word and thought it refered to a beautiful little coloured child? I will read with interest what others say!

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  2. I love the towels - except sometimes the words make me a bit uncomfortable. That's just me - others might not be bothered - but I do like the little girl. So sweet and innocent.

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  3. While I would never want to use a term that is offensive to so many people, I think the towels themselves are so cute. The little girls are darling and I don't think the mispronounced words should be offensive either. Most of use repeat the cute ways our own children and grandchildren say some things. When I sold in an antique mall I had to decide if I thought selling Black Memorabilia was wrong. I decided it wasn't unless there was something hateful or demeaning about it. I just see it as a part of our past. There are a lot of homemaking books and booklets from the 40's and 50's out there that instruct women on their role as a wife that I take exception to...but I'm not offended.
    Didn't mean to go on so...I think you should treasure those sweet towels!

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  4. Cute is cute. I looked up the word on Dictionary.com and it does say it is an offensive term. I think I've heard it before, but never knew it's meaning. I don't see anything offensive in the towels themselves though. The words seem like dialect to me. People take offense to lots of things these days however.

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  5. They are just gorgeous Gayle and to be honest if you hadn't said they were little piccaninnies, I wouldn't have picked it.............


    Claire :}

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  6. I have never heard the term at least not in a derogatory way. These towels are some of the cutest I have seen in a while. Lovely bow details in the hair! I think the love with which they were made and used makes them more than beautiful. They are beautiful images of little girls. Smiles...Renee

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  7. Beautiful little girls. Especially because your Grandmother made them.

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  8. I think they're cute towels. I love the fact that your grandmother made them.

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  9. I love that you own something your grandmother made with her own hands. It is a treasure you are lucky to have!

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  10. Those are a treasure from your grandmother, I haven't seen any that cute!!

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  11. I think these are adorable! But before I put my pattern on Etsy I looked up the word and found it was considered offensive.
    I like the way your Grandmother appliqued the clothing-it adds so much more to the pattern than just embroidery.

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  12. They are cute and what a treasure to have from your grandma. I guess the word picaninny may have connotations these days

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  13. These towels are super cute!!! I'd treasure them too!

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  14. These are so cute, and dishtowels embroidered by family are extra special (wish I'd thought as a young bride to have saved some and not just used them for dishes!!).

    I have collected tablecloths, aprons and tea towels forever so I have some black memorabilia but I don't display it for the reason you mention. Oddly, no problem with Asian figures, (was born in Japan (Air Force) and grew up with Asian decor so it feels personal to me). Who knew kitsch would raise such issues?

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  15. Offensive or not... they are sooooo cute. I wish I could find the patterns!!!

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  16. I think your towels are adorable especially since they were made by your grandmother. The term can be offensive, but I see nothing wrong with the towels. Thank you for sharing them.

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  17. Hi Gayle,
    I agree with Jemm, "cute is cute"! I think it all depends on the person and how they think...where their mind is. These towels weren't made to be offensive...they were made to be used and enjoyed. I hope you enjoy them for many many more years and will pass them down to your kids and grandkids. They are little works of art!
    Maura :)

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  18. how wonderful that they were made by your Grandma and you still have them. Enjoy them!!

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  19. I love anything vitage, but maybe.... I went to see the movie "The Help" last night. These towels fit right in! The movie is great, BTW.

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  20. The towels are lovely vintage items and of course you must treasure them because your grandmother made them.
    Although the designs may not be regarded as PC nowadays, I always think of this quote from "The Go-Between" by L.P. Hartley and published in the early 1950's:
    "the past is a foreign country - they do things differently there"
    Maggie

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  21. These are really the cutest! Makes me want to try to learn to embroidery and find some cute designs like this! ♥

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  22. I think your towels are adorable and especially valuable because they were made by your grandma. I'm sure some people would be offended by the wording, but it seems like nowdays some people are offended by just about everything.
    On another note, if you are interested in my zucchini soup recipe, check in my archives for my post of July 16, 2008. I gave the recipe in my early blogging days. I hope you enjoy it if you try it.

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  23. What a precious remembrance. They are so cute!

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  24. I think these are just the cutest towels! I don't think of the words being offensive, but some people might. These are those people who seem to search for ways to be offended because they want to be. The ways of saying things from years ago should have no bearing on today. I think the vintage towels are adorable and precious since they were made by your grandmother. Enjoy!

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  25. Those are very vintage treasure and definitely keepers.

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  26. They're just cutsey little girls! They look great in your photos. Grandma would be proud.

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  27. Anyone who thinks these are racial needs to get a life! In my opinion there is only one race...human!

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  28. Either way no matter how you say it or see it...they are adorable!! Too cute...treasure them with all your heart...it would make G-ma proud!

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  29. These are SO adorable! I guess some might take offense, but what these are is a great piece of history. Your Grandma did lovely work, and they're a really wonderful family heirloom!

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  30. Oh, I love them!! So cute, and the appliqued dresses are adorable!! What treasures you have there!! Thanks for telling me!! xo Heather

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THANK YOU for your thoughtful comments. Replies to your questions will be posted here, so be sure to check back soon. Have a wonderful day! - Gayle, Garden Of Daisies