Embroidery: tradition and technology

Embroidery is a type of decoration used to decorate and embellish fabrics of all kinds: silk, linen, wool, cotton, etc. Generally it is a design, a decoration or an ornament created with needle and thread onto fabric.

Embroidery is an ancient art, which appeared most likely in the East, then came to the West. The history of embroidery can be traced mostly citing historical and iconographic sources and, only minimally, studying the authentic relics. From the beginning of the millennial Chinese civilization there are news of symbols embroidered on clothing, tents, blankets, etc..

In ancient Egypt, Greece, in Babylon, Rome embroidered lingerie, veils, clothing, robes with figures and scenes.

The art of embroidery in the past was considered an artistic expression related to objects of value because were used many embroidery threads of gold and silver, onto expensive fabrics (for example: linen).

In Italy, precisely Sicily, the art begins to be practiced around the year one thousand, during the dominion of the Saracens, who will introduce weaving and embroidery laboratories, named “Thiraz” and Rakam “: the word embroidery comes from the Arabic lemma “raqm” (pronounced Rakam) meaning “sign, design”. Using the embroidery was relatively easy to give value, dignity and prestige to a dress belonging to political or religious personalities of that period.

During the Middle Ages, around 1100/1200 D.C. came from Byzantium in the major European imperial courts and at the Church excellent embroidery work. Of such origin are manufactures on ceremonial garments used in the Holy Roman Empire.

In Italy, since ‘300, are documented laboratories all over the country and especially in Florence: the art is in fact known as Opus Florentinum. They have preserved specimens of “needle painting”, as proof of high quality and a certain airy space typically Italian.

In the fifteenth century, European nobles were used to apply both on shirts and on handkerchiefs embroidery obtained with gold and pearls, or black thread on white background. Among other things, becomes very common the habit of an emblem or a motto embroidered on left sleeve, or both: Charles of Orleans, who during 25 years in prison for war had developed a talent for art, let embroider on the sleeves , also using pearls and gold thread, poetry and music he composed.

In the period from ‘400 to ‘500 manifests clearly the tendency for intermixing of the so-called fine arts and minor arts that brings great exponents of the art, such as Botticelli, to draw the cartoons for embroiderers that used them for coating front of altars, or liturgical vestments. These are decorative geometric designs inspired by the games of the Italian gardens and oriental arabesques, or phytomorphic elegant scrolls, vine with bunches of grapes and vines, oak acorns, pomegranates.

The art of embroidery, as profession, was a male prerogative performed by masters, but we know that it was practiced also by women in the monasteries or as a “hobby” by members of noble families of the time, until reaching the publication of the first books of embroidery patterns in the ‘500.

In the seventeenth century with the advent of the Baroque, the art of embroidery reaches an extreme degree of opulence: a good example is a garment that Henry IV of Bourbon, called the Great, did make for his second wife Maria De ‘Medici, who had run an embroidery including 32,000 pearls and 300 diamonds.

Not quite sober.
In the nineteenth century it consolidates a large spread of embroidered linen, containing the monogram of the owner ennobled by a rich and varied typology of floral motifs, usually in white embroidery.

The learning of this noble art was held in high regard by the noble families of the time, considering it as a very important element in the education of female progeny.

During the twentieth century the research and the study of ancient traditional embroidery techniques has been developed and adapted to modern tastes. Nowadays, we see the use, according to the needs of the context, of both traditional and current techniques, related to the use of computerized machines that allow even the embroidery laser.

Hoplites S.r.l. knows the importance of respect for tradition, but it moves with ease also through the latest and sophisticated technology: this is an undeniable advantage for customers who decide to avail of our collaboration in managing their productions and creating new collections.

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