Friday, October 9, 2009

embroidered bag


Silk, silk thread; hand sewn, hand embroidered, hand plaited, Great Britain, c.1600

In Embroidered Textiles, the author Sheila Payne writes that:

The primary function of embroidery was to decorate, to embellish textiles already created to meet man's basic needs, and the purpose of such decoration was rooted in ancient beliefs and superstitions. In primitive societies the mysteries of cosmic creation and the human life-cycle were harnessed by mythology...Man could emulate them or protect himself from them by tattooing his body or decorating his clothing with symbols of their powers...

Basically, embroidery was placed in areas that needed protection, and jewellery and tattooing served that as well. I think the three are intertwined and hence my interest in all three areas.

Perhaps by the time that this bag was made the need to embellish was governed more by decorative concerns than protective, but I find these bags interesting. Like boxes, both were made to carry precious items that an individual owned. Like jewellery , these bags kept these items as close as possible to the body and they were experienced both visually as well as physically.

Images from the Victoria & Albert Museum.