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.
Strikingly often, textiles are found where you might not have initially thought they would be. So in case with these three jousting shields. The core is made of hard wood and in order to create reinforcement, stability and a base to paint on, all three shields have been covered with a woven fabric. The fabric has been glued to the wood with an animal glue, over this a pigskin parchment and then coated with gesso and painted.
The fabric that can be seen where the gesso has cracked and fallen off is a relatively coarse linen/ hemp woven in plain weave. The shields are called burial shields in the database but show all the identical features of jousting shields. The question of whether they were ever used for jousting may not be proven.
The shields date from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 16th century.
Spangles or sequins? This sudarium is believed to be a Vadstena work. Vadstena convent was founded by S:t Bridget. The convent is known, among other things, for its fine textile work, and many that were produced there in the Middle Ages are still in existence. This sudarium is one of two existing in Sweden from the Middle ages.
It’s not easy to see what the motif is supposed to show, but it resembles a helmet ornament. The small pearls are very small and we don’t understand how someone have been able to make a hole though them. And we don’t know of we should call the metal decorations for spangles or sequins… Help!
The sudarium is dated the the first quarter of the 16th century.
Now in the collections of The Swedish History museum. More pictures here
/ Amica and Maria Please cred us if sharing the photos
Recycling. Perhaps the most obvious within the life cycle of a historical textile. Made, worn, mended, remade and used til all was gone…. And here we have a great example. A chasuble.
The embroidery of Jesus was probably made during the 17th century on a gold and silk relief velvet fabric from the 15th century. To consider during the 17th century that a then 200-year-old fabric was perfectly acceptable as a basis for the embroidery, is an attitude that is quite far from today’s ideas. We are both shocked by it, but also know that’s the use of such habits probably is the reason why they are still around… Ney but yay, in a way…
The velvet was probably already quite worn in the 17th century but didn’t stop the creator. We love the fact that Christ’s two legs are a recycled linen table cloth or a towel, a very rare kind from this time. Enlarge the picture for full visibility!
Now in the collections of The Swedish History museum. More pictures here
Since I had the advantage of being able to take part in not just one but TWO brigandines in the collections at the Livrustkammare, I feel that it would be wrong to withhold you the second, when the first one seemed to be so appreciated.
This brigandine is a supposed to be a war booty from Warsaw 1655-08-30 when the Swedes brought a number of booty home to Sweden. It’s dated to the 16th century. The brigandine consists of a very vivid deep red silk velvet and on the inside there are a large number of overlapping steel plates riveted to the velvet. The plates are small and thin, ca. 3 x 2 cm. They are homogeneous and finely worked. There are also traces of a linen fabric between the velvet and the metal. The rivets that join the plates together are round-headed brass rivets. The brigandine ends at the bottom with cut tabs. The flaps have raw edges and are very coarsely sewn, with what appears to be a yellowish silk thread. The closing device has been on the side of the garment, but this is now missing. The front piece measures in length 64 cm and in width 81 cm.
I only had the opportunity to see the front of the brigandine, the back part was in another box. But since there are pictures taken on this for the database, I have chosen to also include these. Sometimes it turns out that the older pictures can tell that an object has changed a bit over time, even since it was first photographed.
The brigandine deserves a more thorough review later on and there is every reason to return to it. Feel free to collect your questions here in the comments so I can look at it on occasion.
Link to the front in the database and link to the back
Today I had the pleasure of getting a quick look at an exciting object in the collections at Livrustkammaren. Here are therefore a few short observations that I noted and you must be forgiving since it’s far from a complete article. It is an object that is entered in the database as brigandine or as it is called in Swedish “liv-jacka” where liv means upper body. In short, this is a protective garment to wear on the upper body. The brigandine is constructed in one piece and buttoned at the side and over the shoulders.
The outer layer is a grass green silk velvet. Under this velvet fabric is a thin layer of goat or sheep skin and on the back of this, a large number of steel plates. These are overlapping and the entire inside of the brigandine is covered.
The edges are covered with strips of linen. The strips are cut at an angle, there may also be some straight cuts of the linen strips. The rivets are beaten through both the fabric and the leather and there appear to be leather washers under the rivet head on the front. However, these are today very small, either they have been damaged and fallen off or they have always been small, it is not possible to determine.
The tablet woven belt in silk is unusual for it’s time and has had patterned borders. 23 tablets are required to weave this.
The bottom part is incomplete and it’s difficult to know the original shape. According to the database the brigandine seems to be produced in Arboga, Sweden in the 1560-ies.
The brigandine is a fantastic object and I hope we have the opportunity to return to it and analyze it more carefully in the future.
Bees wax. Sewing wax to be precise. It’s difficult to know people used sewing wax during the Middle ages, but a small lump of wax have been found at Läckö, Sweden. It’s both calming a charming to see that the historical person that once slid the linen thread over the wax created the same trace in the wax that we do today. This piece of wax shows in a wonderful way a contact with a human hand, even if the time elapsed is at least half a millennium.
The wax is from the collections of the Swedish History museum.
1- sorry for mixing days up for all you advent calendar people. 2- wax is an absolute necessity in the sewing box. Waxing linen thread before sewing starts is important so that the thread does not wear out more than necessary. That is why wax is very important in our sewing kit.
/ Amica and Maria
Photos by: Historical Textiles CC-by please cred if sharing the pictures
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