Textile fragment with tendrils

Details

  • Catalogue text

    A band of paired tendrils alternating in their direction. The tendrils have remains of yellow (undyed) silk embroidery, the background is pale red.

    In: Barnes, Ruth and Marianne Ellis, ‘The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries’, 4 vols, 2001, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum

    The detail is taken from part of a band of trefoils arranged alternately in upright and reversed positions. Most of the yellow silk stitching has perished, but enough of the red has survived for us to see the characteristic plaited effect produced by close counted herringbone stitch (also known as Greek stitch and classified under canvas work). The same effect is produced by long-armed cross stitch, but the method of working is different and results in lines of horizontal stitches on the reverse side instead of vertical ones made by long-armed cross stitch. The way in which close counted herringbone is worked is typical of one category of Mamluk embroidery and, if present on a textile, strongly suggests a Mamluk Egypt origin. During the 20th century, the method of working long-armed cross stitch changed, possibly because in stitch dictionaries the instructions implied that every row should be worked in the same direction with the long arm slanting stitches all facing the same way, so losing the plaited effect. Historically, long-armed cross stitch was worked continuously back and forth in succeeding rows, and its qualities as textural filling stitch were appreciated by later embroiderers in Azemmour (Morocco), and the Greek Islands, where it was used for embroidered furnishings to decorate homes.

    In: Ellis, Marianne, Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, in association with Greenville: Curious Works Press, 2001)

Further reading

Ellis, Marianne, Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, in association with Greenville: Curious Works Press, 2001), no. 39 on p. 57, p. 82, illus. p. 57

Barnes, Ruth and Marianne Ellis, ‘The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries’, 4 vols, 2001, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, p. 114 (vol. iv), vol. iv p. 114

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