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Anna Chlupová: The Bird Motif In Embroidery

Embroidered bird motif at the traditional textile from the west Slovakia, 19th centuryThe bird motif has played an important place in rich and colourful embroidery ornamentals. It completed floral compositions; it was its part or sometimes it even dominated. The bird motif with its special characteristics – the possibility to fly and rise to heights – symbolized immortality and fertility. It is presumed that the folk depiction of the bird figure did not come out from direct observation of nature. It was probably based on transforming various examples that worked its ways to the folk environment where they were stylised and adapted to regional customs. The bird motif appeared in traditional Slovak embroidery in various areas and on various types of textiles. It added to the rich patterns found on celebrative textile, mainly altar cloths, and it decorated clothes accessories – head caps, head scarves, sleeves and, less commonly, on skirts and male shirts. As far as the shape depiction of the bird motif is concerned, we can say it was stylish and did not depict any specific type of bird. Squarer geometric shapes characterized birds in thread counting techniques – cross stitch, cut out, needle stich, and net embroidery. The more realistic depiction was reached with the use of pre-printed embroidery and techniques – full flat stitch, chain, and stem stitch. The oldest depiction of the bird motif can be found on altar cloths from the eighteenth and nineteenth century where a typically richly decorated motif of a cock or peacock dominated the cut out. Western Slovakia embroidery was typified by its greater degree of decorativeness: the birds can be found in a tangle of twigs, flowers and leaves where they formed part of the rich composition. Motifs of birds on clothing accessories were typified by their large shape variability, colourfulness and composition. Bird motifs interested and inspired many artists. Otília Kopecká, a long-term ÚĽUV artist, liked to place these motifs on embroidered textile products – tablecloths, covers, tablemats, pictures and greeting cards.




Further articles in the magazine Craft, Art, Design 03/2004:


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