Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Anglo-Saxon embroidery

Anglo-Saxon designs in embroidery reflected design in other mediums such as carving and illumination. There was extensive use of interlaced patterns, figural and animal designs as well as architecturally inspired structure within the needlework design. As these embroideries drew heavily from Biblical and religious themes that is why is used heavily in church decorations. There are many references to embroidery in literature and also to those who produced it. In the 10th C, there is reference to St. Dunstan working on designs for Queen Aedgytha, wife of Edward the Confessor. There is also Queen Margaret of Scotland, wife of Malcolm III, who decorated copes, chasubles, stoles and altar cloths. Gifts of textiles to the Church formed an important part of late Anglo-Saxon society. Vestments, made up of many marks worth of gold, were given to various religious communities during this period. These Vestments are often the most valuable items in the treasuries of the communities. Because of the intrinsic worth of these items (a cope and two chasubles burnt in the 14th century recovered over two hundred and fifty pounds worth of gold) many were destroyed to recover the gold. This explains why so few of these items survive, despite their acknowledged beauty.

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