[HNW] Greetings and about Opus Anglicanum

Allison263@aol.com Allison263 at aol.com
Wed Oct 8 21:13:13 PDT 2003

In a message dated 10/8/03 1:49:54 PM, dreamer81465 at yahoo.com writes:

<< If anyone here has ever done any research in their histories, you all 
should know that you can look at two different sources and have two different 
answers to the same question. This is my problem. I am looking at multiple sources 
and I am looking for commonality in all of them to discern the truth from all 
of them. >>

To be honest, this sounds like the heart of your class. It is quite true that 
different sources will give you different information, and I think it may be 
important to tell that to your students. 

But I think you're asking the impossible---to be told, unequivocally, exactly 
what was done in period. I'm not sure that anyone can do that with absolute 
certainty, given that the current scholarship on medieval embroidery, and opus 
anglicanium, is by no means complete. All we can do is look at as many sources 
as we can, filter the information, and come up with a reasonable theory. My 
experience and research tells me that my information is different from that of 
the Laurel who you spoke to. That may mean that my sources are wrong, or 
outdated; it could also very well mean that hers are. 

What I can tell you is that the sources I consulted that described the 
stitches used in OA note a variety of different stitches. For example, the famous 
Syon cope includes underside couching, stem stitch, and laid and couched work, 
according to "Pictorial History of Embroidery" by Marie Schuette, which most 
historians consider to be the Bible of historical embroidery from antiquity to 
the 20th century. Other examples of OA appearing in Schuette are described as 
including split stitch, satin stitch, and in one case, petit point. None of 
them describe exactly *where* each type of stitch was used and for what, although 
there is mention of the fine split stitches used in shading faces and hands.  

The only real way for you to get the information you need is to get out there 
and dig up these sources yourself, and even then you won't get all the 
answers. The Internet is notoriously unreliable when it comes to factual 
information, personally I wouldn't trust any source I found online unless I could confirm 
it elsewhere. It'll take time and lots of effort, because embroidery 
scholarship is haphazard in the world of historical research. You'll find information 
buried in books about textiles, weaving, women's studies, museum conservation, 
the Catholic Church, and archaeology, just to name a few.

I know this doesn't answer your question, and I'm sorry about that. But I 
hope it helps in your search. 


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