[HNW] Re: History of Hardanger

Chris Laning claning at igc.org
Mon Jan 21 15:01:17 PST 2002

This reference sounds to me as though it is lumping what we now know
as Hardanger in with several other techniques, including reticella,
Assisi work, blackwork etc. -- in fact almost everything with
geometric designs.

However it doesn't say anything about the key elements of the
Hardanger style -- counted-thread satin stitch "kloster" blocks,
square holes with woven and wrapped bars, and the spiderwebs,
diagonal grids and looped stitches that fill the holes. Nor does it
mention the distinctively square, triangular and "stepped" appearance
of the traditional Hardanger motifs.

It seems to me that these are the things that make Hardanger a
specific style, and this identifiable style is what needlework
researchers can't seem to find (as far as I know) before sometime in
the 17th century.

Of course counted-thread satin stitch is well known by itself, as the
main technique for "filler" stitches in German whitework (Opus
Teutonicum) in the 13th and 14th centuries, but that doesn't include
the drawn-thread techniques or the cutwork. And the cutwork, bars,
looped stitches etc. by themselves are certainly part of Italian
reticella and _punta in ario_ needle lace.

But I don't think you can really say that you have documented
Hardanger embroidery to before 1600 if you can _only_ document the
individual components, and _not_ the combination or the distinctive

I'm mentioning this because we recently had this discussion in the
West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild (SCA) and decided to drop Hardanger
from our Guild's list of pre-1600 styles. We get a lot of questions
about it, because in the needlework world at large it's very popular
right now. But our conclusion was that unless someone comes up with
more evidence, we really can't justify it as a historical embroidery
style in our time period.


At 1:10 AM -0800 1/19/02, Mary M. Riedel wrote:
>Please go to this link on the Caron site for an interesting article on
>hardanger that includes some historical background:
>Here a just a few paragraphs from the article:
>The historical origins of Hardanger are rather obscure. It's roots are said
>to have sprung from ancient Persia and Asia where a similar technique was
>worked on fine gauze netting with colored silk and metallic threads.

O    Chris Laning
|     <claning at igc.org>
+    Davis, California

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