Bridging Arts

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Embroidery packs launched in Battersea

Today was the big day - a large turnout (with a waiting list) at York Gardens Library, Battersea, for the first class on the pomegranate motif (blackwork). Why the pomegranate? It was the emblem of Catherine of Aragon and appears on her coat of arms and in portraits. It is widely cultivated in the Middle East- and is one of the blessed fruits of Islam. According to the Koran, pomegranates grow in the gardens of Paradise...
Workshop led by Hannah Walker with Royal School of Needlework tutor Lizzie Lansberry.

Catherine of Aragon's pomegranate sparked discussions about talismans and lucky charms. Glynn Christian pointed out that the unicorn, thought to have magical powers, was on the Royal coat of arms as a 'defence of the faith'. A unicorn has the beard of a goat, tail of a lion and feet of deer. The origin of the western unicorn was a deer seen by the first Crusaders on the hill of Jerusalem. Glynn has a personal connection with the unicorn - it is on his family crest.

Seeda Islam said Muslims on the Asian subcontinent often use verses from the Koran as a form of protection - one word or short phrase written outside a front door to protect children. Or carried written on a piece of paper in a locket. Sometimes dots are drawn in kohl on a child's forehead to protect from the evil eye.

Jean Morgan said the Christian cross was a sign of protection..

Ibtisan Ahmed, the translator who helped with the class, said blue was a colour in Islam thought to ward off evil spirits. Blue beads were often carried with this in mind....