Religious representations

Religious representations

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an incomplete embroidered picture from England, which dates to about AD 1660. It shows various scenes from the Biblical story of Abraham and Hagar. It is worked on silk satin with silk and metal threads. Ink (for the drawings, still clearly visible) and mica have also been used. It measures 47 x 56 cm.

'The Annunciation' is an embroidered picture with a representation of the Archangel Gabriel announcing to the Virgin Mary the forthcoming birth of Christ with the words: Ave Maria gratia plena dominus tecum (Luke 1:28). It was made in the (southern) Netherlands around AD 1450, in the or nué technique, with silk and metal thread on linen. It measures 21 x 9.5 cm. 

'The Baptism of Christ' is an embroidered picture, which originally may have been attached to a larger textile, as for instance an altar frontal or ecclesiastical vestment. It was made in the (southern) Netherlands around AD 1500, in the or nué technique, with silk and metal thread embroidery. It measures 38.7 x 44 cm.

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 Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York houses a hanging scroll with silk appliqué and embroidery on a silk back material. It measures 96 x 47 cm and has been dated to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

Chamba rumals are embroidered coverlet traditionally produced in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent, in the ancient principality of Chamba, now part of the modern province of Himachal Pradesh, in and around the district of Kangra and its capital, Dharamshala. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a chamba rumal (coverlet from the former principality of Chamba, in the modern Himachal Pradesh, Northwest India). It is made of muslin with silk thread embroidery. The rumal shows a palace scene with Ganesha in the background. The embroidery, as will all rumals, is reversible and worked with a type of double darning stitch.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses a chamba rumal from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. It originates from Himachal Pradesh, perhaps from Kangra, the traditional centre of the old principality of Chamba. The rumal (coverlet) measures 77 x 72 cm. It is made of cotton with silk thread embroidery and the decoration is reversible. It shows Krishna being adored by gopis (shepherdesses).

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a silk embroidered panel with a representation of the Christian martyr, St. Sebastian. It dates to the eighteenth or early nineteenth century. The red colour of the background (now faded) corresponds with the colour normally associated in the Roman Catholic Church with martyrdoms.

The Creation tapestry, also known as the Girona tapestry, is an embroidered panel now housed in the Museum of Girona Cathedral, Spain. It dates to the eleventh or twelfth century, and measures, as it survives, 365 by 470 cm. The embroidery depicts scenes that relate to the Christian creation stories, hence its name.

'David and Abigail' is an embroidered picture made in England in the mid-seventeenth century, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It may originally have been a cushion cover. The ground material is linen, and the embroidery is carried out with silk thread. It measures 48.3 x 62.2 cm. The central scene shows David on his horse, talking with Abigail in front of him (compare I Samuel 25).

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses an eightenth century chamba rumal (coverlet named after the former principality of Chamba, in the modern Himachal Pradesh, Northwest India). It measures 89 x 82 cm and is made of cotton with silk thread embroidery. The decoration of the rumal is divided into sixteen panels, each containing a scene relating to Krishna. The embroidery, as will all rumals, is reversible and worked with a type of double darning stitch.

The British Museum in London houses a textile fragment with the embroidered figure of a Buddha standing on a lotus pedestal. The fragment dates to the eighth or ninth century AD, and was recovered between 1906-1908 by Sir Aurel Stein at Dunhuang, in Gansu Province, China. The fragment measures 10.9 x 6.2 cm.

The collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London includes an embroidered thangka that probably derives from Inner Mongolia and dates to the period c. 1780-1850. The thangka has a silk ground material and embroidery worked with silk thread. There are some traces of painting.

'The Empress and Porphyrius visit St. Catherine in Prison' is an embroidered picture in the shape of a roundel, which originally may have been attached to a larger textile, as for instance an altar frontal or ecclesiastical vestment. It was made in the (southern) Netherlands around AD 1430, in the or nué technique, with silk and metal thread on linen. It measures 16.5 cm in diameter.

A roundel with a diameter of 15.5 cm with embroidery carried out in the or nué tradition, popular in the Netherlands in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, is housed, among other or nué examples, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It dates to the early fifteenth century and shows two scenes from the medieval legendary story of Saint Martin. The embroidery is carried out in silk and silver thread on a linen background.

'The Hermit Adrian Shows St. Catherine an Image of Christ and Baptizes Her' is an embroidered picture in the shape of a roundel, which originally may have been attached to a larger textile, as for instance an altar frontal or ecclesiastical vestment. It was made in the (southern) Netherlands around AD 1430, in the or nué technique, with silk and metal thread on linen. It measures 16.8 cm in diameter.

The National Museums of Scotland house an embroidered picture, probably originating from Italy and dating from the second half of the seventeenth century. It represents the (Apocrypha) Biblical story of the Persian King Ahasuerus and (the Jewish) Queen Esther, and the Persian vizier, Hamam (Book of Esther 7). The embroidery is worked in coloured wools and silks on a linen ground.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses a Japanese embroidery showing the death of the Buddha (parinirvana). It measures 214 x 176 cm and was completed at the end of the eighteenth century. The wall hanging is made of silk with silk and metal thread embroidery.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam holds a fragment of an orphrey (Dutch: aurifries). It measures 46.5 x 21.5 cm and it is richly embroidered in the or nué technique that was very popular in The Netherlands and beyond in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The embroidery is worked with silk and gold thread. The medallion in the centre shows the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

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