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Re: Russian Embroidery

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  • Hastings Sanderson
    ... There is actually a really good explanation of nabor in Nina Klimova s Folk Embroidery of the USSR. Nabor is a weaving stitch:the needle and thread act
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 17, 2009
      --- In sig@yahoogroups.com, "panimagdalena56" <nunother56@...> wrote:
      > Hi all. I found a book on Russian embroidery at a local library. There is a stitch caled a nabor stitch which is actually called a weaving stitch. I'm looking for a picture to illustrate what I think this is referring to. There was also a stitch called the three layer stitch which is a couched stitch, very similar in appearance to the bayeux stitch.
      > Has anyone else come across similar references on Russian embroidery? There was no reference to the region of Russian or any town but I'm guessing the western area.
      > Magdalena

      There is actually a really good explanation of nabor in Nina Klimova's Folk Embroidery of the USSR.

      "Nabor is a weaving stitch:the needle and thread act like a shuttle passing under and over the warp. All the stitches go in the same direction, parallel to the cloth fibers and most often horizontal in relation to the ornamental forms. The threadwork is always parallel to the previously made row of stitches, the needle alternately picking up and skipping a definite number of fibers. One stitch is made on the right side of the cloth, the next one on the wrong side, and gradually the whole ornamental composition emerges-- squares, lozenges, crosses and other simple geometric forms. When this technique of embroidery is used the pattern on the wrong side of the cloth is a negative of the one on the right side."

      She goes on to explain how this varies from counted satin stitch, which is also used, due to the difference in orientation of stitches and the fact that nabor gradually creates the forms as opposed to counted satin which is worked a motif at a time. The examples in the illustrations are from Vologda province and Kargopol district, but Klimova says the technique was widespread around the countryside in the 17th and 18th centuries with the difference being color choice. "Embroidery in the northern provinces was all in red; in the south, it was mostly multicolored, bright and joyous, with a perfect rhythm of scarlet, blue, green, golden, violet, and crimson shades creating a complex color scheme. On folk articles these two stitches were often combined with plain and patterned bands of colored cloth."

      There is also a section later in the book where Klimova gives specifics of the use of nabor among the Mari, Mordvinians, Chuvash, and other peoples of the Volga and Urals.

      As far as the 3 layer stitch, I'm not certain. There is certainly Romanian couching which is found in most stitch dictionaries. Klimova discusses several types of laid work including Prikrep and Basma which she discusses in her chapter on Embroidery of tthe Nomadic people of the USSR (focused primarily of the Tajic and Uzbec but with others thrown in) Additionally, she mentions an unspecified stitch that sounds a lot like Bukhara couching to me. She also has a diagram of different types of couching stitches used in the Gold Work chapter, but she doesn't give names or many specifics and that particular chapter doesn't have much meat to it.

      There are multiple pictures and stitch diagrams of all the techniques.

      I picked up the book for the stitch diagrams of the "painting" style of embroidery which is basically blackwork using a double running stitch and seems to be one of the major types used for 18th and 19th century towels. Since double running stitch is documented in Karnataka, India in the 7th century and in Egypt at least as early as the 13th century during the Mamluk period and is used in Assisi work in the 15th century in Italy, well before the vogue of Spanishwork and its English heyday, I'm hard pressed not to use it since I love the 18th and 19th century motifs worked in it and the symbols themselves are so old. Since the older surviving Russian embroidered pieces don't evince this stitch though, using instead primarily split stitch. . . I'd like to go with the explanation that they are all ecclesiastical and often made by workshops of male embroiderers rather than being the work of women for themselves and as a way of preserving folk beliefs. But that line of reasoning is very much my bias and I don't have any proof for it. It also runs up against the problem of the very high standards of embroidery evinced in the older pieces and Rus dress in general with the extent of Byzantine influence. But, then there are distinct similarities between Russian 18th century peasant embroidery and those of Greek peasants of the same period. I'm becoming rather tangled in the search actually and can see years of fun poking and research. Mary B. Kelly's books Goddess Embroideries of Eastern Europe and Goddess Embroideries of the Northlands, are the sources for much of my speculation, but both are not particularly scholarly. (Incidentally, she has an article in the current Piecework magazine about Norwegian ceremonial cloths and their use of Viking era symbols that is rather interesting.)
      ENDS HERE (sorry about that :) )

      One of my favorite stitches from the book is the "Ancient Russian satin stitch."

      "In the Russian satin stitch, the stitches are placed in rows in a checkerboard order; they form a grainy surface on the cloth. . . Russian satin stitches are made with a "needle forward" stitch from one edge of a motif to the other. over ten to twelve fibers, under two or three fibers. On the way back the stitches fit closely to the previous row. In order to get the even, grainy texture of a motif, all the stitches should be of equal size and end exactly in the middle of the previous stitch."

      No date or particular region is given except to say that satin stitch was popular and widespread in the 18th and 19th century in Vladimir, Moscow, Ivanov, and Nizhnegorodsk provinces. She describes 6 different types of satin stitch though, so that doesn't really pinpoint anything.

      No bibliography, but the author was the head of the Laboratory of Embroidery and Lace at the Scientific Research Institute of Industrial Arts in Moscow and its beautifully illustrated with clear line drawings of the techniques showing needle path in addition to the descriptions. There are also loads of pictures of actual embroidered pieces from the collection of the Museum of Folk Art and other sources. And the book is in English which was a huge plus for me since I'm just starting to even try reading Russian
    • panimagdalena56
      ... Sounds like the same book by the same author where I fould these stitches. Yes, I also see alot of time poking and researching. Magdalena
      Message 2 of 3 , Jul 19, 2009
        > There is actually a really good explanation of nabor in Nina Klimova's Folk Embroidery of the USSR...
        Sounds like the same book by the same author where I fould these stitches. Yes, I also see alot of time poking and researching.

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