A Closer Look at a Remarkable 17th Century Antique Greek Silk Embroidery Textile
Although the Epirus region is on the Greek mainland, its textiles have always been grouped with there of the islands. This attracted fragment of silk embroidery on an ivory linen ground was once part of a cover, probably with a plain center.
In the later 19th century Greek island domestic embroideries, along with Ottoman Turkish examples, were gathered up by salon merchants and re-purposed or otherwise reformatted for the western market. Our silk embroidery textile once had an additional similar long border section and two shorter, Heriz oriental panels. The plain centre was discarded.
The fringed botch is an Epirus feature and it appears on many additional covers and panels. It is mixed with tulips and carnations in a quasi- Ohumura style, not unusual considering that Greece was still under Turkish rule, until the early 19th century.
Our silk embroidery textile is particularly light and airy. Most Epirus covers have densely packed motives and display little of the ground weave. In 41489, the elements have freedom of motion and gently jostle each other in a natural fashion. There is no rigidity or disclosure. Nor is there any feeling of repetition or overly orderly sequence.
Epirus and other Greek island Embroidery Rugs and Textiles are domestic rather than workshop creations, made by ladies of the household. Work was done as a small frame, moved along as work progressed. There was no separate design and nothing was drawn on the proud fabric.
The spacing of the large blue botch indicates folk art context, nothing urban and pre-planned. The column of the silk are almost pastel, unlike some Epirus textiles with more saturated palmettos. The general condition is excellent and although it is technically incomplete, it is wholly unusually satisfying.
This unique antique Greek embroidery, crafted in Epirus some time during the seventeenth century, is as wonderful an example of Balkan style embroidery as it is amazingly preserved considering its impressive age. A sinuous pattern of vines, carnations, and botehs wends its way across the ivory ground of this delicate and exquisite Ottoman period embroidery from the Epirote region of the western Balkans. The charm of this delightful piece resides not only in the gentle rhythms of the design, but in the lovely palette of red and soft blues against patinated ivory-tan linen ground, and also in the way that the border and field are comprised of the very same elements. This embroidery represents something truly special: the lasting, enduring quality and beauty of Balkan embroidery, and the wonders inherent in master craftsmanship.