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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

How to Care for Assuit

by Trish St. John


Here are some of my favorite tips on caring for assuit shawls and garments.

  • Don’t wash assuit unless it’s absolutely necessary. The less handling of antique assuit, the better.
  • Don’t perspire on it. The body salts can corrode the silver plating off of the metal pieces that are silver-washed. If a dewy sheen is unavoidable, rinse or wash it as soon as possible.
  • Keep black pieces of assuit out of bright, direct sunlight.
  • Wash in shampoo or mild dish detergent, adding a small amount of ‘Biz’ (a laundry additive) will help brighten the metal.
  • If the piece of assuit isn't white, expect the dye to "bleed".
  • If the piece is white, you can safely soak it in a basin of water with Biz for up to two days, to lighten it and remove some stains. This may even remove some oxidation from the metal.
  • After washing, roll up in towels to squeeze out excess water.
  • Lay flat to dry, if possible, or hang over plastic hangers to dry.
  • Never use safety pins on your assuit. Trust me on this.
  • After washing the piece, wrap it in acid-free tissue paper to protect it before you store it away.

Trish St. John



About the Author

Hello friends. I am Trish St. John, also known as Hanan. My love and passion for the beautiful antique textiles that we know as assuit has led me to write this article. You can contact me through my facebook profile.

In addition to being a collector of assuit and designer of garments made from it, I have been a performer of Middle Eastern dance for over two decades. It was early in my path of Middle Eastern dance study that my passion for beautiful assuit textile was sparked. My fascination with assuit and all aspects of costuming has been as enjoyable for me as the dance itself.

I began taking classes in what is now referred to as American style in the early craze for belly dancing. I had never even seen a belly dancer before my first class, but I was drawn to that first class like a date with destiny. It certainly was just such a date, because my connection to this dance has never ceased.

Trish St. John

Throughout the years, I have sought out many teachers, because I feel that it is important to learn from as many as possible and staying with them long enough to inculcate the best of what they have to offer for my personal learning and dancing style. I am privileged to have had many great teachers, notably Jamila and Suhaila Salimpour, Rhea of Greece, Aisha Ali, and Horacio Cifuentes, among others. I have had master classes and workshops whenever possible with Bobby Farah, Mahmoud Reda of Egypt, Faten Salama, Dahlena and others. Eventually, my emphasis focused upon Modern Egyptian and regional Egyptian styles, but I especially have enjoyed studying other North African styles, i.e. Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan shikhatt and guedra. I studied Moroccan dance and music in Marrakech and filmed the Marrakech Folk Festival while I was there.

Early on I started performing in San Francisco area restaurants and nightclubs and count as my venues among others: El Monsour, the Marrakesh, Kan Zaman, the Northern California Renaissance Faire, the former Grapeleaf (now El Masri), and the wonderful Bagdad and Casbah clubs on Broadway in the fabulous and exciting heyday of live music clubs in San Francisco.

My hunt for beautiful assuit continues. I sell some and keep some for my personal collection. I make tribal fusion bras with both new and antique assuit, selling them on Ebay and through private commission. Feel free to contact me at raresilver [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.

I currently reside in Alameda, California and work as a massage therapist. I continue to take classes and perform on occasion to keep my inspiration going. My handsome son (shown in the photo to the right from many years ago) is now grown and has taken up my passion for world travel.

I hope you enjoy my articles as much as I enjoy bringing them to you!

Trish St. John and Travis



Related Articles

Explore these other articles for more information about assuit fabric and ideas for costume care.



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