The conversation regarding washing fabrics, marking the design on fabrics both now and historically has led to some ‘THINKING”. Thinking is not a bad idea, in fact, it is a good habit and can be productive.
Heather Grief tells us there are no indications of design lines on the fabric of the Bayeux Tapestry. There will be holes in the fabric and damage to the threads caused by the needles and wool, but under that, there are no black, blue, brown lines or any other indication of how the embroiderers knew where to place their stitches. With its size, detail and complexity, I cannot believe that a large number of people were able to stitch the Tapestry without the input of a gifted artist/ designer and guidelines on the fabric. My mind and my stitching experience cannot accept this.
Sheila McCoy has entered this debate with an excellent article which you can read for yourself.
Here are my thoughts on the Bayeux Tapestry for those who are as increasingly perplexed by it as I am. There has been a lot of research on it over a large number of years. It is hard to know the truth about something that was stitched so long ago. It is hard to know the truth about something stitched only a few years ago unless the stitcher has left notes to tell us.
This is what I think! I am not a historian. I am a stitcher and I write this blog.
The Bayeux Tapestry was stitched in France. This was the age of Opus Anglicanen in Saxon England. Those professional embroiderers were unbelievably skilled. They would have not easily or willingly reverted to the basic embroidery skills used in the Bayeux Tapestry. Please don’t shout at me about this observation but there is no comparison in the skills required.
It chronicles the defeat and colonization of their country. Why would the Saxons do that? William the Conqueror was a cruel and absentee ruler. There were riots and civil unrest. He built prisons and castles instead of Churches. He built the Tower of London. This speaks of slave labour. Saxon England had been rural and prosperous. It fed itself with enough to export. William took over Saxon owned land and gave it to his Norman followers. He wiped out the Sazon culture and language in a generation and that takes determination. The Domesday book was an inventory for taxation purposes.
My belief is that he was a horrible and vindictive man. When he died, no one wanted to bury him. His body lay around until, finally, it exploded. Do you really think that good ladies of England or the male professionals would have created the Bayeux Tapestry under these circumstances? I think that the takeover of Saxon England by the Normans was so traumatic that the English/British grew an extra gene which has been particularly evident in the last century. In both World Wars, the country was determined to not allow a foreign invader onto English/British soil. Brexit is another example. Have you read the text of the Lisbon Treaty? The future for Britain as outlined in this document is appalling. If you have not read it, you should. My next posting will be the article I have about the Lisbon Treaty.
The Bayeux Tapestry is a record of the events that led up to the battle, the battle and of victory. A Norman-French victory. It is not a story of defeat. Just to add a little background, Edward the Confessor died without an heir. This created the opportunity for the Vikings and the Normans to try to take over a peaceful and prosperous country ripe for the picking. The Viking invasion of York sent half of the Saxon army north to fight the Battle of Stamford Bridge which the Saxons won. This was only a few weeks before the Battle of Hastings.
Returning to marks on fabric. Is it possible that there was a herbal extract or product that could have been used to mark the design on the fabric for the Bayeux Tapestry? Something that would have faded over time and not damaged the linen fabric, the wool threads or the natural dyes. I have no idea if there is, or is not.
If a naturopath or a herbalist should read this, do you have any suggestions on what could have been used to mark the stitching lines on the Bayeux Tapestry? We would love to hear from you.
Sorry, no pictures!