We were asked if we could lend a gilt leather coverlet to one of the episodes to create a more cosy environment. Of course we did. and it was especially fun to see the coverlet in the background of the scene of Gustav Vasa’s haircut.
The Dalhem II coverlet comes from Dalhem’s church in Småland and is believed to be the work of the Birgittine nuns in Vadstena around the early 16th century. Today, the embroidery is in the History Museum’s textile collection.
There are about 12 medieval gilt leather embroideries preserved to this day, thanks to wills and inventory lists we know that there were many more, which are no longer extant. Among other things, there are gilt leather embroideries recorded in inventory lists from several of the Vasa family’s castles. They appear both in the form of coverlets and cushions. The colors mentioned are black and yellow which were the colors of the Vasa family.
2023 has sometimes been a really shitty year. Cancer and everything that comes with a treatment has made our business year … different and sometimes a little less energetic than usual years. Initially, we didn’t think we’d be able to make an Advent calendar. But… we got feeling and therefore we will make some posts when we feel like it. So it will be a Random Advent calendar.
Hope you think it’s ok?!
We start with a decorative textile. Some textiles are a bit cooler than others. This is a brocaded tabby Swedish “krabbasnår” preserved in the medieval church of Roslagsbro. It has been incredibly nice when it was new. But what makes it really special is that it has a set that tells you that it is woven in a different type of loom than a treadle loom. A warp weigh loom or a tapestry loom. Warp in 2-plied linen/hemp thread, pattern in 2-plied wool yarn, in various colors.
The dating needs to be done on stylistic grounds and it is difficult to determine how old the fabric is because this type of pattern forms have been used for quite a long time. But the mix of colors and the asymmetric pattern sings medieval to us. The choice of loom type in combination with the pattern makes us think that the weave belongs in the Middle Ages.
Today we celebrate Christmas in Sweden. And we would like to end this years Advent calendar with an old textile. This time we go back to Valsgärde grave 15 and one tablet woven band. This piece has got a silk fabric attached to it. The broaching is done with a gold/gilded metal tread, wrapped around a silk cord.
This piece dates to 10th century.
Another favorite of ours is this gorgeous pillow. Embroidered in long armed cross stitch. Silk and wool on linen Dated to the 15th century. Note the slightly offset pattern. The band is woven in wool and placed where the top and bottom part are meeting.
Thank you for hanging out with us during this Advent calendar! See you next year!
Today it will be a mix of slightly different medieval silk embroideries. Some display incredibly meticulous craftsmanship and astonishing detail. You can understand that they were produced in a studio. Others are perhaps not quite as professionally executed.. But, what they lose in accuracy, they make up for in charm.
Of the preserved embroideries found in Swedish History’s collections, the overwhelming majority are connected to Catholicism. The most common motifs are saints. Often the saint him/her-self has been embroidered separately and then applied to a background. Sometimes only the saint remains and sometimes only the background remains.
They have been embroidered on linen fabric. Very often it is reused towels or other rather worn fabrics that can be found on the backs of the embroidery. The backside of embroideries can tell a lot!
In addition to “painting” with the stitches, the gilded thread can be sewn down with different colors on the silk thread and thus create another possibility to create the pattern effect.
Our sewing teachers at school must have had a heart attack from the backs of the medieval embroideries. What the back would look like has been completely uninteresting and strikingly often it is pure chaos and maybe also a bit of glue to make sure the silk yarns wouldn’t unravel.
Today we share pictures of a very unique object. It’s a falconer bag with associated hanger. Even the training toy remains. The bag once belonged to Carl Gustav Wrangel. The bag has a direct medieval look and the function is also the same.
The text in the database says: Bag consisting of two pockets. Embroidered on stramalj with silk thread – two shades of green and gold thread, point d Hongrie technique in scale-like pattern. A report: 25 mm. The smaller pocket: 300 x 300 mm (tapering at the top) sewn to a gilt silver buckle, collar edge 75 mm high, lined with suede. Drawstring of gold and silk cord, a round button covered with gold thread sewn to the edge of the collar. The pocket is lined inside with green parkum. The larger pocket 335 x 310 mm (tapering at the top) sewn to the gilt silver clasp. Lid made of the same material as the rest of the bag – folds down.
The Middle Ages is a time of “almost near is near enough”. What does that really mean, you might be wondering now? Well, it means nothing less than that you weren’t very careful back then. If one fabric ran out, another one was taken that had a similar color, as in this case with the gilt leather embroidery from Skokloster church.
Here, the intention was to use a surface with a blue wool fabric. BUT there hasn’t been enough so they’ve been forced to join several to get a piece big enough. As you can see, there are three blue fabrics. Quite different in both shape and appearance.
We get so happy when we see this embroidery. There is something very liberating about the fact that they didn’t feel limited by the lack of a blue fabric in the right size, but they solved it all in a simple and creative way. This in particular creates character and feeling for the entire embroidery and says a lot about the frugal and material-efficient work then. We hope to see more reconstructions made in the same spirit.
It’s dated 14th century.
Today we find the embroidery in the collections of the Swedish History museum.
Today it will be a slightly younger item. But on the other hand, we can tell who the object belonged to, which makes it extra interesting. It is none other than a king, Gustav II Adolf, Gustavus Adolphus.
King of Sweden between 1611-1632, known as the king who is credited for the rise of Sweden as a great European power (Swedish: Stormaktstiden). During his reign, Sweden became one of the primary military forces in Europe during the Thirty Years’ War, helping to determine the political and religious balance of power in Europe. He was formally and posthumously given the name Gustavus Adolphus the Great.
He was shot and died on the battlefield in Lutzen on November 6, 1632. Many of his clothes are still in the collections of Livrustkammaren in Stockholm, Sweden. And also some clothes he wore when he was shoot. Still with stains of blood. Very dramatic.
We have taken a look at his collar with an absolutely astonishing bobin lace. The fabric is super thin linen and woven in plain weave. The collar is divided in 6 pieces with a lace in-between the fabrics. It’s sewn with superfine back stitches. The lace is made of linen, the threads are two plied. His portrait show how to use such item. According to tradition, it was worn by Gustav II Adolf at a ball in Augsburg on May 30, 1632, and was torn by the king’s dancing partner, maiden Anna Maria Breesler (Breissler) and given to her as a gift.
Knitting. A fairly young textile technique in Europe, likely imported from Africa. There is solid evidence of knitting in Europe by the 13th century and among the earliest finds are a silk cushion from late 13th century, Spain, and a fragment of what is believed to have been a mitten in Estonia. Alms purses appears during 13-14th century. Also knitted in silk. Gloves and caps shows up around the same time.
Bertram von Minden aka Master Bertram painted the knitting Madonna around 1390/1415. The knitting Madonna is knitting a jumper to baby Jesus on four needles. The knitting is from bottom to top and the needles are thin and looks like metal. The yarn balls are kept in a basket.
Today you can have a look at the whole altar cabinet in Hamburg at the Kunsthalle, see the full altar cabinet here.
Today, on the fourth Advent, we think there needs to be a post that is a little “extra everything”. That’s why we bring out this wonderful tablecloth from Hammarby church, Sweden. Dated first part of 16th century. It’s a white weave in a goose’s eye, linen or possibly hemp. The tablecloth is incomplete but still measures an impressive 94 x 553 cm.
In terms of pattern, it consists of scenes with people who, among other things, appear to be attending a banquet. There are also outdoor scenes with animals. Between the scenes there are floral motifs, acanthus vines and the tablecloth is framed by an approx. 18 cm wide border with, among other things, lions on it. It has also got a fringe in red and white, on one of the sides.
It is embroidered with stem stitch, chain stitch in silk and wool. It is assumed to be a work from northern Germany.
Today in the collections of Swedish History museum. You can see more pictures here
Historical art is a great source for understanding how the tools of the time looked and were used. Strikingly often, one can understand that the artist had little understanding of, for example, the function of looms. However, this particular one seems to work fine.
The woman in the picture is weaving a plain weave and she is holding a weave shuttle. The woman on the floor is winding a bobbin for the shuttle. Both the loom and the bobin machine are imaginative for the understanding of what they looked like at the time.
The story itself can also give clues of what is depicted. Since the weaver is weaving a shroud we are quite sure it’s supposed to be linen.
The painting is at the National Gallery in London and is dated to 1509 circa.
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