Thursday, December 28, 2006

Is this the first quilt or what?




















Sometimes you can't see for looking. I am very interested in the history of textiles and of quilts. There is much debate about where quilting emerged, and some very old coptic quilted textiles exist as do some Chinese ones that may date to BC. But as I have been looking at the history of Syria from one of those Time Life books called "The Cradle of Civilization" by Samuel Noah Kramer and looking at the wonderful reliefs- but what do I see??? Is that a quilted textile on the horses' back? Has to be- it is the horse of Assurbanipal an Assyrian King whose reign was well documented in the ruins of Niniveh ( now in Iraq) and who reigned in 7ooBC or there abouts. The Assyrians rode with only cloths covering the backs of their horses- why would the stone mason who carved the relief go into such incredible "quilterly" detail if the textile wasn't quilted?Isn't this exciting to think that so far back they were not only weaving cloth but also embroidering and quilting it?

So of course I set out to make the textile cloth- which I am calling rug for Gilgamesh- I am about halfway through- the silk is about 1.5 metres long by 60 cm wide. I am not sure there is sufficient contrast for much visual effect- in one way there is through texture but I have come so far that I will finish it, but my goodness it has taken soem sewing . The texture is really scrumptious. And Sheila I am using cotton batting- a bit too flat for my liking I would have liked more texture. I usually use Matilda's Own Wool batting ( and I am using their cotton batting too)- it's a great Australian product!

10 comments:

joyce said...

Good research! Not many would have noticed the quilted saddle blankets. In the photo there looks to be plenty of contrast. I love the color and the quilting. How big is it and what do you plan for it? A wall hanging?

Tracey Petersen said...

The blue thread across the purple silk gives a wonderful glow to your stitches.

Karen said...

scrumptous! it is looking so vibrant. how big is it? I love the work your doing.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks for the info on the batting. I've tried Matilda's black wool, but it was too flat for me! I use Hobbs wool when I really want relief.

It amuses me to find a fellow researcher who through a variety of reading, makes these kinds of connections to the history of quilting. I just finished an article on 17th century furniture carving that seemed so related to quiltling practices. One of the carved motifs highlighted bears a great resemblance to the Welsh "Cathedral Windows" quilting desing. Oh, that better records were kept so long ago!

Anonymous said...

As an Assyrian I was very happy to read your post and the observation which you made about the Assyrians having made the first quilts.

Actually this seems to be a part of the Assyrians' culture because our Assyrian folk customes which were in past times worn as every day clothes are today used as the national customes of the Assyrians and the sets worn by men have very intricate hand and needle work as well as embroidery with different colours,it also takes a considerable time to do all that hand work but it is still done as it was for thousands of years before but today those costumes are worn on occasions such as weddings,national Assyrian events and also when there are celebrations where the Assyrians participate to show a part of their heritage.

I'm also very happy to read that you are making the Rug of Gilgamesh, and I sincerely hope that when it is done you can have a pic of it on your blog.

Thank you again and best wishes.

teri springer said...

Very cool. You are so very observant!

I love the piece. Word of warning tho, (you may already know this- I did not until Hollis Chatelain told me) cotton batting has a *memory.* Any folds you get in the piece will stay. I was amazed at how Hollis' pieces, no matter how large, when unfolded and hung did not have fold lines! And that is why- whe does not use 100% cotton!

Those blues and purples are so yummy.....

teri

Shirley said...

Just beautiful, Dijanne, and how perceptive of you to have found the idea in that sculpture.

margaret said...

Well spotted -- next time I'm at the British Museum (next week??) I'll look out for the saddle-cloths. You certainly are stitchin a "magic carpet" - it's scrumptious, for want of a better word!

Helen Suzanne said...

had a great time following your links to Gilgamesh. very interesting, thank you. Hope your cards sell well too (i'm sure they will). All the best for 2007

Sue said...

I love this piece, and am fascinated by the Gilgamesh story, too. In Bristol, UK, we have a stone relief from Ninevah in our city museum, with scenes from the tale of King Ashurbanipal, which remind me of the image you have shown. My husband grew up very close to the ancient city of Ninevah, in the north of Iraq. Your interpretation is fabulous, and in colours I love.
Happy New Year and Peace to you and yours.