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Home Traditional artistic handicraft Embroideries, Cloth-printing Ravenna. Byzantine embroidery

Ravenna. Byzantine embroidery

Province of Ravenna

Byzantine embroidery is a “needlework” of the past, that has spread in Italy from the East, when Ravenna was ruled by the Esarchi and this type of embroidery was used only for their clothes and the people of the court.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, this decoration was used to manufactured sacred clothing, then worn in cloisters. Nuns became the only representatives of this art (see the so called “voile di Classe” in the National Museum in Ravenna, some pieces date back to the 10th century).

Only after the first world war, a group of nuns founded a school of embroidery, to help many widows and orphans. This school had to face unlucky periods but contributed to spread the knowledge of this ancient Byzantine "needlework".

It was closed during the Second World War, but after it, the famous embroideress, Mrs. Pironi, opened a school of embroidery at Acli (Italian Christian Workers Association) in Ravenna with 32 trainees.

This extraordinary and refined art is taught only at CIF (Italian Womens Center), where teaching courses are organised every year from October on to hand it down to young generations.

The patterns of embroideries are taken from mosaics, marbles, bas-relief and ivories in Byzantine churches in Ravenna. The colours of threads used recall those of mosaics.

The “Bizantina Ars” derives from two stitches: a modern one, the stem stitch, and an ancient one, the rush stitch. The laid stitch consists in laying golden, silk and silver threads from one point to the opposite in the surface to be filled, by fastening them through a slightly visible silk stitch. The different arrangement of silk stitches can give a different look to the surface: the rush stitch.

The most used fabrics is linen, since it is the most suitable to highlight this craftswork, that often becomes a real masterwork.

In Russi the art of Byzantine embroidery is promoted by Irma Scudellari Melandri who has contributed to spread the artistic heritage of a school of embroidery, that faced changing situations betweend the two World Wars in the past century.

Irma Scudellari has organised and still organises several exhibitions worldwide, in Japan, France, Germany, and different Italian regions to convey a technique that reproduces on cloth the patterns of mosaics, marbles, bas-reliefs kept in the churches of Ravenna.

 

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Interesting websites:
Centro Italiano Femminile

Last modified Mar 31, 2011

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