Description: "Bag, German, late 14th century. Plied white linen thread and colored silks in satin stitch on linen."
Origin: Germany
Period: 14th-15th century
Current location: Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
Museum number: 8313-1863
Object number: O115592

Current Museum page:

Current Museum Raw Record:

Original catalog description:
"BAG (with cords) of linen, covered with close short-stitch embroidery in crimson, yellow, and white silks, with a trellis pattern forming spaces in which are geometric devices; four of the spaces on each side are ornamented with a pelican in her piety pecking its breast, interlaced blossom devices, a curved rendering of the gammadion, and the letter M, severally, worked with gold thread stitched down. (?) German. Latter half of the 14th centy. 5 1/2 in, by 5 in. ... Probably to contain relics." (Cole: 247)

Personal Observations:

  • From the description it looks like this has gold work on each side
  • Four motifs on each side:
    • pelican in her piety - possible?
    • interlaced blossom - Possible
    • curved rendering of the gammadion - Similar but not very
    • letter 'M' - no, not seeing it.
    • it is possible the decorations are different on the unseen side
    • The unknown motif is more convincing as a pelican if rotated 90 degrees.
    • The geometric motifs are worked with four strands of gold
  • The loop cord is circular tablet woven. The technique was reverse-engineered in response to my query by Cindy Myers. The article is linked below under references.
  • The drawstrings appear to be a fingerloop braid, a double-spiral pattern. the cord is gathered where it exits the bag and the strands of the doubled cord are worked in multiple (2 wide, 2 narrow) half-flat fingerloop braids.
  • The drawstrings are poked through the bag with no reinforcing stitching around the holes
  • The decorative stitch along the seams at the sides and top:
    • In closeup it looks very much like some sort of double chain stitch, not split stitch.
    • Possibilities include:
      • Double chain stitch
      • Two tablet, woven finishing
      • Something else
  • The Embroidery:
  • The pattern lends itself very nicely to a brick-stitch interpretation. but there are problems with this:
  • Compared to other pieces, even ones in bad repair, this stitching looks melted, not rigid and even.
  • Under magnification the stitching does not match up the what would work for a regular brick-stitch; this is especially true of the white linen intersections, but can be seen throughout.       

Fabric count: 37 Count fabric (Based on personal observation)

Colors noted (Matched under natural light to a DMC sample card):
    White Linen (DMC 746 )
    Purple Silk (DMC 3721)
    Gold Silk (DMC 3045)
    Yellow Silk (DMC 725)
Cole, Alan S. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Collections of Tapestry and Embroidery in the South Kensington Museum. London: Printed by Eyre and Spottiswoode for H.M. Stationery Off., 1888.{}

Myers, Cindy. "Tubular Tablet Weaving." Silkewerk. Web. 20 November 2015. {}.