Monday, 2 July 2007

Aachen Cathedral Treasury - Part 2: Stole with brickwork

In the previous post, I've done a rough listing of medieval reenactor interesting contents of Aachen Cathedral, now to my first highlight from a 12th C perspective:

"stole, Germany? c1200. silk? (w 11cm, l 265cm)"
The stole and mantiple, I found about a year ago while looking for belts. The centre section is a lovely typical example of goldwork (underside couching I think) at it's best. But it's the ends that fascinate. Firstly both end with a fringe which passes through beads before hanging as a fringe. Simple, but very effective, and clearly shown in the photos. Secondly, the Stole has an end section of brickstitch. This is the earliest example of the style I've ever seen. It doesn't look like a later addition, and the rest of the piece looks very typical for 1200 (to my untutored eye), so maybe the labelling is correct, and it truly is a very early piece. It doesn't have the devices or non-geometric motifs of later pieces, but the piece is so small that they wouldn't fit easily. The pattern is geometric, but more complex to count out and stitch than it initially appears.

I've graphed it out. On the left is my interpretation of the overall pattern. On the right, I've overlaid it on the original photograph (over the section which sits flattest). I stretched the pattern a little to do so, but did not distort it in any other way. Below is my best guess at where the individual stitches might have been placed. It's based on the layouts of other brickstitch items given in "A Stitch out of Time" since I'm already squinting to see the pattern the colours make. (and I don't have a higher resolution photo). Be sure to click on the image to make it large enough to read. The sharp edges represent how I think the edges were stitched, the soft edges represent places where the pattern continues similarly.

Given the width of 11cm, and my estimate of 4x24=96 stitches we can also estimate stitch density as about 8.7 stitches per cm. I've left a little grid on a section of my pattern, and the squares of this grid would be 8.7stitches/cm or 1.1mm wide squares. I talk about stitch width because stitch length varies. Also the original fabric may not be woven completely evenly in warp and weft, but the embroiderer has compensated well, or it is quite good as there is no apparent elongation of the pattern.

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