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.
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.
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
In museum collections there are always objects which for different reasons are linked to historical persons. It can be difficult to confirm if it is really true. And one can wonder if it really matters.. The objects are often from the time that the historical person lived, but of course there are also objects that are obviously from the wrong time. Modern technology can also reveal information whether the objects and the history the carry match.
This belt belongs in the collections of the National Museum in Copenhagen and is attributed to Eric of Pomerania. We don’t know if it’s true or not.
It is woven with tablets, in silk. And it is indeed a very exclusive object, fit for a king.
The belt dates to the early 15th century. Please cred us if sharing photos.
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.
Today we will talk about a kind of medieval textile that often have been falsified and many fakes are found in museums all over the world. Printed linen fabric. These pieces are believed to be originals. They come from the medieval church Södra Råda. 2001 the wooden church was burned down. And 2003 a reconstruction started to rebuild the church. Happily all medieval textiles was already at museums when that happened.
The printed in is printed in black and appears to have been painted red and yellow in some places. We don’t know what kind of pigment that were used. The fabrics have been sewn together before the motif was printed. It’s believed to be a work produced in the west of Germany.
Agnes Geijer dated the print to mid 15th century.
Today in the collection of Swedish History Museum. Read more here
Not all bands are woven with tablets. Some seems to be woven with rigid heddles too. Like this on from 15th century. Woven in silk. As you can see, the blue fades faster than the madder dyed red. The long floats gives the band a nice pattern too. Around 12-14 mm wide.
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