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16th Century Samplers: Knotwork

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 3: Circular Knotworks
In The New Carolingian Modelbook (plate 37, pattern #4, page 78) there is a pattern for a "Perpetual Knot Circular Motif" from Convivio delle Belle Donne, an Italian pattern book c. 1530-1540. There is an almost identical pattern in Nicolo Zoppino's Gli Universali de i belli Recami of 1537, as shown in Flowers of the Needle. Note the similar patterns from the German sampler and also from a Swiss tapestry carpet of 1533. Patterns used in embroidery appear in tapestries, carvings, and other artistic forms, and vice versa.

Notice also that none of these "Celtic" knotwork motifs are from Celtic countries; knotwork designs were extremely popular everywhere in the 16th century.

First pattern charted by Kim Salazar, used by permission. Second and third patterns charted by Carol Hanson from photos of the originals. The third pattern (Swiss carpet) was charted from a black & white photograph and the colors are only for value comparison.

Italian c. 1530-40

Italian knotwork

German, 16th c. Sampler

German knotwork

Swiss, 1533

Swiss knotwork

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last modified on November 30, 2001

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