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start>history

 

detail of the embroidery "merman".historydetail of the embroidery "merman".

This text is a compilation from different, not verified sources. Read it with reservation

In the thirteenth and fourteenth century,in Italy, an embroidery style was developed, that became the basic of that style that nowadays Assisi embroidery is called. In that time a few monasteries started to make embroideries wherein the design and motifs were voided, while the contours and background were embroidered with colored silk. First the outline was drawn on fine linen cloth and then the contours were embroidered with silk in one color in simple running stitch or back stitch. Normally this was done in black or brown.Then the whole of the background was filled in using red, green or yellow filling stitches. In the sixteenth century the style flourished and spread into the secular community. Below you can find a picture as an example.

embroidery, Italian, 16th century, silk on white linen cloth.
embroidery, Italian, 16th century, silk on white linen cloth.

The motifs were based on the grotesques, satyrs, demons, ancient mythical beast. In sacred embroidery you find more birds and animal pairs surrounded by elaborated scrollwork. These motifs you can find also in other kinds of embroidery as well as in stone relief's and carved wood in Romanesque churches. See illustration below. Later, in the eighteenth and nineteenth century these embroidery techniques fell into oblivion.

sculpture, San Rufino, Assisi
sculpture, San Rufino, Assisi

After the new state of Italy, in 1861, had been founded, a movement came into being to rediscover and to revive traditional handicrafts. In the seventieth of that century, a group of rich ladies in Burano, near Venice,took the initiative to let revive the art of making lace. Possibly one of the motifs was to help the impoverish population to get some income. Later, to be exact, in 1902, the “Laboratorio Ricreativo Festivo Feminale San Francisci di Assisi" was founded, in Assisi. It was a workshop, where poor girls out of the city, could learn to embroider.

They took the traditional embroidery techniques and simplified them. Silk dread gave way to embroidery cotton, the outlines and contours were no longer drawn freely on the cloth, but were counted out, stitch by stitch. If necessary, the designs were simplified or they were new made, directly borrowed from the stone reliefs and wooden choir stalls of the churches. During one visit I made to Assisi, I recognized several embroidery patterns on wooden chairs that stood in the churches. The, often complicated borders around the embroideries, were simplified. The background was done in simple cross stitch. The co lour schemas stay the same.

From this revival the style maintained itself, more or less, until now. For the modern times: continue reading at "about the style".

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