August 31, 2013

stitches of history

You may know that I'm not really into crafts. I've done little bits of simple knitting and crochet and that's about it. I don't mind doing extensive hand-sewing on the garments I make but decorative needlework...... I think I once embroidered a tiny flower under instruction from my grandmother, when I was about six...
Of course, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate examples of those kinds of work in textile.

Recently, I came across this embroidered eh... Scarf? Small narrow table cloth? Something else?

It was in a display case in Hohensalzburg castle, the large mediaeval castle in Salzburg, Austria. 
The item had been casually draped in a corner (which is why I couldn't take a picture of it as a whole) and at first glance, it might not seem very special. Picot-like borders, line embroidery of fanciful leaves framing a center section of a sort of square mesh made from the embroidery yarn. Yes, it's fine work but we've all seen more impressive examples of that. However, all the items in this room (mostly furniture and fancy crockery) were from the 16th century. And look at this, in the corner:

1567. I don't know which family the crest belonged to but despite that, this is not a show-piece, like a banner. This is a personal touch, a little thing to make one's own living space a bit prettier. Because the castles in and around Salzburg were built by Archbishops, we can be pretty sure this wasn't made by the lady of the house. But the use of such a time-consuming technique on an item that probably didn't have a display function does suggest a woman of some leisure. Not a servant certainly. Most likely the wife or daughter of a wealthy citizen of the city. That would be in line with the other objects in the room (many of which, like the large pieces of furniture, were not originally from the castle) and with the status of the city of Salzburg at the time.
I wonder if the colours mean anything. Purple on white. I know in catholic colour lore, purple is a colour of mourning, used during Lent. Maybe this was for a table display during that part of the year?

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Obviously I'm late catching up (apologies :P) but that is really, really cool. Just draped in a corner.... /sigh.