[HNW] HIstory of Hardanger

Carolyn Kayta Barrows kayta at frys.com
Wed Jan 23 13:38:05 PST 2002

>I made several research trips to the Philadelphia Main Library, and while
>pursueing other needlework forms I saw a raft of 19th century books, (in
>various languages)  many with photos of extant hardanger work. These 19th
>century pieces were simpler in form and design than modern hardanger.  I
>wish I could quote you "chapter and verse" but I can't. I would simply
>suggest that anyone seriously interested in tracking down historical
>verficiation for hardanger work should do so by looking at books in German
>and various Scandanavian languages, preferably in a library at a college or
>university, or a main library in a city.

I see two problems with doing Hardanger and calling it pre-1600.  One is
that only the stitches themselves are period, not the way the folks in the
Telemarken area assembled these stitches into patterns in the 1800's, into
what we now call Hardanger work.  And the other, and perhaps more
important, is that if you do 1800's-style Hardanger, it will look like
1800's-style Hardanger, not anything pre-1600.  OTOH, if you want to use
these documented pre-1600 stitches, assembled into pre-1600-looking
patterns, you end up with a pre-1600-looking piece.  You just shouldn't
call it Hardanger work, because that name came into use in the 1800's.

I do pre-1600's stuff and 1800's stuff, so either way is fine with me, just
not both.

I have just been digging thru pictures of folk costume from Europe for my
latest project, an 1800's-looking folk-dance/peasant costume with a lot of
peasanty-looking embroidery on it.  Hardanger by that name seems to be a
part of the National Costume/Folk Costume revival of the 1800's.  The folks
from one area started using lots of what we now call Hardanger, as a mark
of local pride and to differentiate themselves from the folks in other
areas.  Doubtless they drew on earlier traditions, but the style set at
that point.

I sometimes have a use for an Eastern European peasant costume, but I have
no family roots there, and am not a folk dancer.  I liked so many different
costumes that I decided to invent a hybrid, using all my favourite parts
from Poland down to Romania, and call it 'Ruritanian' (= the country in the
novel 'The Prisoner of Zenda').  I just finished cross-stitching the hem of
a striped apron, which will also get some machine-made bobbin lace.  There
will also be an embroidered blouse, and a fancy headpiece, possible with
more embroidery.

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