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The bird as an ornamental motif

by Oľga Danglová

Through its ability to fly, the bird has captured man’s imagination since the earliest times, frequently connected with images of the supernatural and godly. We can find depictions of birds from ancient civilisations. These depictions of figures were usually highly stylised and abstract, and no specific species can be recognized. During the Middle Ages, the bird became part of naturalistic ornamentals. From the time of Renaissance, pattern books played an important part in spreading motifs. Pairs of birds were arranged in a strip composition, with their heads turned towards each other and they were connected to each other pair by their tails.

In Slovak folk art, birds appeared only sporadically on woven textiles. However, we find them more often on embroidery bearing the signs of a local, regional style. It often appeared on pottery and faience products, in southwest Slovakia in compositions of wall paintings, on Easter eggs and in woodcarving decorations. Plastic figures dominated the woodcarving production of shepherds. Folk woodcarvers, weavers, painters or embroiders based their bird depictions mainly on iconographical traditions.




Further articles in the magazine Craft, Art, Design 01/2001:


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