This item is a fabric square, the left half in sea green coloured silk, the right half in cream silk. There is chain stitch embroidery over the whole in gold silk, silver metallic thread, and other colours.
The motif is a scroll at the bottom with the words: '6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles'. Above this, a pair of vertical fern leaves. Crown at the centre top with a pink silk fringe around the border on all sides. The reverse is not lined or backed, leaving the embroidery exposed.
This embroidery would have been made between 1911 and 1921 when the Manawatu Mounted Rifles were termed the '6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles' [Corbett: Regimental badges of NZ]. It was possibly made as a souvenir in Egypt during World War I.
Dianne Rutherford, Military Heraldry and Technology collection, Australian War Museum noted in 2013: 'One type of souvenir we often get asked about at the Memorial is an embroidered item known as a 'Souvenir of Egypt". These were very popular during the First World War due to their colourful nature and the fact they were easy to fold and post home. Soldiers bought them while travelling to or from the Western Front (via Egypt) or while they were serving or training in Egypt. Very little is written about these souvenirs and much of what we know is from anecdotal information from veterans obtained by Memorial staff in the 1980s and 1990s.
The embroideries were machine chained onto colourful cotton sateen and usually bear the words 'Souvenir of Egypt' and a year date. Most have a distinctly Egyptian flavour and show the pyramids, camels or date palms. Others show images associated with different armies (such as the Australian Rising Sun Badge, New Zealand General Service Badge or British unit badges) or nations (such as the Australian coat of arms).
The embroideries were displayed on wooden racks beside small booths in the bazaars where the manufacture was undertaken.
They usually had a paper backing tacked to them, which has rarely survived. Normally the embroidery was customised by the addition of a message and, if desired, a coloured fringe and/or cotton or metallic braid edge, all of the customer's choice.
These souvenirs were easy to customise because they utilised a chain stitch that was created by a small hand held, free standing machine that was readily manipulated to produce any design. Some souvenirs also included a small fabric 'frame' into which a photograph could be added by the buyer. It was also possible for the customer to design the souvenir completely, in which case it would have to be ordered and collected later on.
Examples of this can be seen in the embroideries made to replicate a unit colour patch as worn by Australians on their uniforms. Fast forward about 20 years and you find that similar souvenirs were also available in Egypt during the Second World War. However, they were usually embroidered on black velveteen and the variety of images was not as great as had been available during the First World War'.