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Article: 17892 of rec.crafts.textiles.needlework
From: armata@vms.cis.pitt.edu
Date: 25 Jun 95 21:03:44 EDT

In article <3sk9rg$hm@news.tcd.net>, Rhianwen@tcd.net (Tonie Witherspoon) writes:
> Does anyone know anything about the history of hardanger, when
> it first appeared, when it became popular, etc.? I'm trying a little
> simple hardanger on a bag I'm making for my Ren Faire costume, and am
> wondering if it was used in the 1500's or 1600's...
I don't know much about hardanger per se, but that general technique of cutting warp & weft threads into a grid and then wrapping it was immensely popular in "mainland" Europe (is that the term? meaning excluding Scandinavia) exactly in the 1500/1600s. It was brought to the West from the East by returning Crusaders and merchants, by the opening up of trade routes to the East, and by Arab incursions into the Mediterranean area (northern Africa), all of which (and prob other factors, I'm no historian) introduced Europe to the East and kicked off the Renaissance, or at least the textile angle of it. As I understand it, the technique first hit Greece & north Africa, then spread to Italy, then spread out with the general Renaissance culture all over Europe (meaning of course the upper classes and the clergy). Books were published on the technique in Italy/France/Germany to help popularize the technique and give directions and patterns; apparently some of these books have survived, at least I've seen references to them so I assume they must have. I don't think it was used for clothing, but for decorating court and church textiles (maybe for church vestments??). It petered out and was replaced by Baroque techniques in the fortunate cases, in other cases it just came to a dead end due to war or invasion or unrest.
I have no idea how this connects to Scandinavia--whether Scandinavia participated in the general European Renaissance culture or not would give a clue. I've sometimes thought maybe it came to Scandinavia via Russia. From what I recall reading, Russia got it three ways: overland directly from Asia (prob earlier than Europe got it), directly by waterway from Greece when it reached there (before it went on to Italy/western Europe), and from the western Europe/Renaissance tradition (but that was really late--1700s??, and my fuzzy memory says it was more an urban thing and limited to a small area).


Nice article by Lesa Steele, including history and technique information

Nordic Needle's Hardanger Lessons

A View of Hardanger and the Hardanger Fjord



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