How did ancient people embroider when there were no threads? Why were women not allowed to do needlework in Asia? Why did they burn stitched clothes in Russia? Today we are not boring to talk about the history of embroidery in the world and in Russia.
Embroidery you don’t want to look at
The sense of beauty began to develop in women in the Stone Age. Primitive craftswomen came up with the idea of embroidering primitive ornaments on animal skins. Veins, ligaments, animal intestines, creepers and other materials, sometimes far from aesthetics, served as threads. In fact, try to imagine a “fashionable” pattern of hair of unknown origin and someone’s tendons.
Where did the first embroidery on fabric appear?
Natural fibers quickly decompose, so the first samples, most likely, did not reach our times. The East is considered the center of the origin of the fishery:
- Ancient China, VI-V centuries. BC e. – found embroidery on silk.
- Mesopotamia, III-I centuries. BC e. – embroidered shawls were found.
In Russia, the earliest archaeological finds date back to the 9th-11th century AD. e. Fragments of clothing decorated with gilded threads fell into the hands of the researchers.
The world’s first fabrics suitable for embroidery were made from wool and Indian linen. Threads were made from wool, linen, cotton, silk, and later they began to use drawn silver and gold.
Creativity for the elite
In the early and Middle Ages, embroidery accessories were fabulously expensive, because women from the upper classes were engaged in needlework. Beads, pearls, gems, precious metals were interspersed in the ornaments. For the base they took velvet, brocade, silk.
Vestments with luxurious decoration were worn by princes, emperors, padishahs, ministers of religion. Wall tapestries, blankets for elephants and horses were also splendidly decorated.
This occupation is unfeminine
The zardozi style of embroidery grew out of Persia – deliberately rich ornaments with an abundance of gold. An exclusive concentrate of luxury was made for the Shah’s family. Only men are still allowed to do honorable work, either because of the Eastern mentality, or because laying out metal threads is difficult for women’s hands.
Embroidery for the Crusades
Medieval Europe fully inherited the subtleties of the craft and its elitism. A favorite now embroidery technique has appeared – a cross. The element was supposed to protect the knights from evil spirits, which, it was believed, were filled with Muslim and pagan lands.
Among the pagans themselves, embroidery was also filled with ritual significance. So, in Russia such solutions have taken root:
- rhombus – a sign of fertility;
- zigzag – water;
- tree – life;
- pava bird – goodness and longevity;
- horse – a reference to a pagan god;
- red color – protection from evil spirits, a source of strength and prosperity.
With the advent of Christianity, many signs changed their meaning, the symbolism was supplemented by crosses.
You can’t get married without embroidery
Since the 17th century peasant women began to do needlework. They embroidered household items and costumes:
- curtains, bed linen, towels;
- everyday dressings, shirts, aprons;
- festive sundresses, shirts, kokoshniks.
By the age of 15–16, the girl had to sew and decorate clothes and textiles for the future family hearth with her own hands. Before the wedding, the bride’s diligence was judged by the number of products and the quality of embroidery.
For noble ladies, a brocade dress for the altar could weigh up to 15 kg due to the abundance of beads, stones, gold and fur. When expensive gold-woven robes wore out, they were burned to reuse gold and silver.
On the way to the industrial revolution
By the 17th-18th centuries, embroidery went beyond the boundaries of folk craft. Workshops were opened in St. Petersburg and Moscow, independent and attached to monasteries. Manual labor was used until the middle of the 19th century.
Torzhok was considered the most revered center of gold embroidery. Ever since the 13th century. royal clothes, vestments, morocco boots, uniforms for the nobility were embroidered here.
What did the first embroidery machine look like?
In 1829, the French inventor Joshua Gelmann made a machine for satin stitch embroidery.
The machine was a large hoop, between which the fabric was stretched. The vertically suspended frame moved freely horizontally and vertically. Without human intervention, the machine did not embroider – the worker, with the help of levers, directed the carriages and reproduced the pattern.
With the advent of punched cards, and then computers, the machines were able to switch to automatic mode – the elements move along the trajectory laid down in the program.
Modern industrial machines make it possible to produce a large circulation of products, while the pattern is exactly repeated for each sample.
The identity of the illustration is important when embroidering corporate and sports uniforms, patches with emblems. The most advanced machines reproduce the smallest details with a stitch length of 0.1 mm, give even, dense lines.
Ivanovo’s Istok-Prom Studio is equipped with such equipment, the craftsmen of which are able to embroider bags, shoes, hats, pocket flaps and cuffs. And for those who want to keep Russian traditions at home, you can order an individual pattern for pillows, bedspreads, towels.
Embroidery from the Guinness Book of Records
Despite the spread of automatic machines, hand-made decoration with threads and beads remains a popular pastime. Enthusiasts painstakingly create works that surprise with their scale.
The Vietnamese master Truong Thi Kim Thanh and 8 assistants worked on a copy of the painting “Return to the Origins” for 235 days. The size of the canvas is 330 × 280 cm.
And this is a reproduction of the ceiling fresco in the Sistine Chapel. The creation of a copy took the Canadian needlewoman Joanna Lopianovski-Roberts 10 years, although Michelangelo himself painted the palace for only 4 years.
It remains only to guess where else the fantasy of a creative person will lead. Do you have any items with spectacular embroidery?