Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide To Traditional Patterns Hardcover – May 27 2008
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As far as guides go, this one is a hit…. Filled with captivating illustrations. — Antiques and the Arts Weekly
About the Author
Sheila Paine is an expert on textiles and tribal societies and the author of numerous books. She lives in England.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book itself is wonderful. The illustrations and text are excellent. My copy has dozens of sticky notes all over it to draw my attention back to a particular picture of piece of text that took my fancy - you know how it is. I have a wall of books on hand embroidery, traditional costumes and patterns, and this one at the moment is my favourite.
Whether you are an embroiderer or not, the book is a treat just to read and look at.
attention to symbols and colors important to individual areas
I enjoy the photos of people who own/wear the costumes...puts
the designs in context of where they live. I will also keep this
current favorite book near to hand by my work table for inspiration.
I am as disappointed at the other reviewer, "critic" in the broad strokes the author uses to assume symbolism of materials, colors and designs which she paints as world-wide and universal. She does not take into account each country's culture, religion and history.
For example, presuming that the majority of cultures using red as a dominant color are depicting blood is simply untrue: for many, many cultures, the easiest and most prolific dye for fabric and fibers has red pigmentation. Sigmund Freud, upon being teased for showing an oral fixation quipped, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." Ms. Paine dismisses that attitude and her conjectures are somewhat paternalistic and subject to scrutiny. It is customary for people nowadays to say "bless you" when someone sneezes. Does this mean we continue to believe that a sneeze gives evil spirits the chance to invade a person's soul as it did in the Middle Ages? Of course not. It is social custom and a simple courtesy. There are many motifs from ancient and medieval times that are continued in current dress and other textiles for their pure beauty and out of tradition. But the historic tradition has often been long-forgotten. That's not to say that all or even most symbols are meaningless. But what is carried on in the larger metropolitan areas of a country does not necessarily have the same importance in smaller villages where older customs may grant more literal meaning to symbols. But even here, it can simply be that tradition of centuries is continued through respect of the ancestors--and because the designs are visually attractive. The swastika has been used for centuries in Chinese textiles as a symbol of good luck. Did Nazi Germany use it for the same reason?
The author's insistence that a majority of designs are employed to ward off the evil eye is anecdotal and not to be taken literally all the time. All sparkly things are not talismans. I also agree with the other reviewer that failing to date and attribute folk costumes to small villages or larger areas allows for misleading and overbroad interpretations.
So I advise you to enjoy the book for what it is: a visual feast of textiles. But take her overbroad conclusions with a grain of salt.
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