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16th Century Samplers: Pelicans

by Carol Hanson/Caryl de Trecesson

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All charts are under copyright by their creators. Please ask for permission before anything other than private use!

Example 2: The Pelican in its Piety
Compare the two pelicans from the English and German samplers. Since popular pattern books were reprinted over many years and older needlework was used for inspiration, many examples from later works have been traced back to period sources: there's a very similar pelican design in an English sampler of 1759, a hundred and fifty years later.

Animals and plants were often used for their symbolic meaning: the pelican was said to feed its young on its own blood and so symbolized devotion and self-sacrifice. In the SCA, the design of a pelican "in its piety" is reserved for use by members of the Order of the Pelican, an award given for extraordinary service to the Society. (If you would like to use these designs for a non-OP use, you could substitute a more generic bird, or remove the parent pelican and leave the nestlings.)

Both pelican patterns were charted by Carol Hanson from photos of the original samplers.

English, 1598: Jane Bostocke Sampler

Bostocke pelican

German, 16th c. Sampler

German pelican

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last modified on November 30, 2001

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