Fragments and panels

Fragments and panels

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a fine example of Flemish or English or nué work, dating to about 1500. It consists of two fragments of what probably was an altar frontal. They measure 33 x 17.5 cm and 50 x 72 cm respectively. The larger fragment shows the Visitation (Luke 1:39-56), which was the meeting between Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth. The second, smaller fragment shows part of the (preceding) Annunciation, when Mary was informed by the angel Gabriel that she was with child.

ULITA in Leeds (UK) houses a Chinese, late eighteenth century apron panel. It measures 54 x 57.5 cm and is made of silk. The main Daoist design is that of the boy Liu Haichan playing with the toad. The ground fabric is a red silk satin, now faded to a gold colour. The embroidery is carried out with chainsatin, and seed stitches.

ULITA in Leeds (UK) houses a Chinese, nineteenth century apron panel. It measures 76 x 45.5 cm and is made of silk, cotton and metallic threads. The design is based upon the theme of the 'promising life of the children'. The main theme shows the mythical qilin carrying a boy, together with two other boys.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a Belgian bobbin lace border that commemorates the accession to the throne of King Charles II of Spain ("the bewitched") in 1665 (aged three). The inscription reads: CA SECO REX HPA. At the time of Charles II's accession, the southern Netherlands (nowadays Belgium) still formed part of the Spanish empire.

Birka is an archaeological site in Sweden, located on the island of Bjørkø, some 30 km west of Stockholm. It was an important maritime centre during the Viking age. It has been an UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.

There is a small, but interesting fragment of embroidered silk recovered from Dunhuang in western China, and now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (acc. no. LOAN: Stein.559). It was discovered by the Hungarian/British explorer Sir Aurel Stein (1862-1943) in the early twentieth century (1907), and derives from what is called Cave 17 of the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang ('Caves of the Thousand Buddhas').

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses a long length of buratto embroidery from Italy, dating to the seventeenth century. It measures 5.46 x 0.6 m. It is made of silk embroidery upon a linen net. Buratto embroidery was often used as a border trim (hence the long length of this piece). The vase-and-niche motif and the bright colours recall Turkish influences.

A fragment of a red silk velvet burse decorated in what is known as Opus Anglicanum is housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The panel measures 27.7 x 28.2 cm and is embroidered with silver and silver-gilt thread and silk. The V&A catalogue dates this panel to the years 1320-1340. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses various remains of a medieval orphrey, which were later used for five cushions or kneelers. These cushions derive from the St Leonard Church in Catworth, Cambridgeshire and were acquired by the Museum in 1902. The orphrey has been dated to between 1329 and 1354.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London holds a sample of the famous chikan fabric. It was made in Lucknow at the beginning of the twentieth century and measures 40.1 x 30 cm. This sample includes two delicately embroidered bands or cuffs, which would be cut out to be sewn onto a garment. The pale brown embroidery threads are muga silk, often added to the chikan fabrics from Lucknow.

An embroidered silk satin roundel, 25 cm in diameter, with floss silk embroidery now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, was made in China and dates to the nineteenth century. The roundel shows one of the mythological eight immortals, namely He Xiangu, set in a garden.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses a balloting bag with the civic crest of the town of Schagen, The Netherlands. It dates to the seventeenth century and is made of purple velvet, lined with leather. It is applied with the crest, which is embroidered with silk and silver thread. The bag is provided with a woollen cord and tassel. It measures 34 x 42 x 25 cm.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a cloth from Chennai (Madras), India, that around 1880 was made at the Hobart School for Mussulman Girls, perhaps as a sample for the export. It is decorated with gold thread embroidery (zardozi) and beetlewing cases attached to net.  

ULITA in Leeds holds a Chinese, hexagon shaped, embroidered 'cloud collar' (40 x 35 cm), apparently for a woman's coat. It is made of blue silk, decorated with metal thread couching. The embroidered motifs are stylised flowers, resembling peonies. It is said to date to the late nineteenth century. The collar was collected in Hong Kong.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York houses a small fragment of Chinese embroidery that shows two confronted birds. The fragment measures 31.1 x 36.8 cm and is worked in silk on a silk ground material. It is dated to the early eighth century. The pattern with the two opposed birds was popular in the early Tang period (Tang Dynasty: 618-907).

ULITA in Leeds holds a Cretan cushion cover, measuring 45 x 35 cm. It has a border pattern of carnations, lappets and leaves. In the midle is a vase with stylised flowers framed by four leaves. In the corners are four rosette-shaped motifs. The embroidery is worked in herringbone, satin and split stitch. The colours and patterns are characteristically Cretan.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a piece of dress fabric measuring 220 x 106 cm. It was probably made in Gujarat, western India, in the early eighteenth century, and consists of a cotton ground material with silk thread embroidery. The designs include birds, flowers, fruit, but also architectural motifs and are worked in chain stitch. The designs are repeated twice for every width.

The Early Bronze Age burial mound of Skrydstrup, southern Jutland, Denmark, has yielded a very early example of needlelace, from the sleeve and neckline of a garment buried together with a young woman in an oak coffin. The burial mound was excavated in 1935 and the remains have been dated to c. 1300 BC.  The neck of the short-sleeved woollen garment was decorated with a row of buttonhole stitches overcasting the edge, followed by other rows of buttonhole stitches attached to the preceding row. Three threads were finally woven through the loops of the buttonhole stitches. The sleeves were also embroidered: three rows of buttonhole stitches, as with the neckline, the central area being filled in by another variation of the buttonhole stitch.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an embroidered panel from Russia, dating to c. 1700. It measures 71.2 x 43.2 cm. The ground material is made of silver thread and cotton, and the embroidery is worked in couched silver-gilt thread and chenille silks. The embroidery includes floral motifs and a bunch of grapes.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an embroidered panel that originates from pre-Columbian Peru and has been dated to the period 500-100 BC. The embroidery is carried out in wool on a cotton ground, and worked in stem stitch. The fragment measures 11 x 8.5 cm.

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