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History of Cross Stitch and Embroidery - Byzantine, Europe and China - Wizardi

History of Cross Stitch and Embroidery - Byzantine, Europe and China

The history of cross stitch goes back to ancient times. Even primitive people used a similar sewing technique in the manufacture of clothing, but then it was used not for the purpose of decoration, but to obtain durable and easy-to-perform seams.

(painting Woman Sitting by a Window Sewing, artist Silvestro Lega, year 1872)

Where and when did cross-stitch first appear
It is impossible to accurately name the place and time of the appearance of cross-stitch directly. Probably, this art began to develop from the moment when they began to connect parts of clothes with such a seam, using bone needles. The desire of people to decorate things led to the fact that colored threads or veins began to be used for stitching, which became the first decorative elements. Simple ornaments or lines began to be created with the likeness of a cross. These patterns differed among different tribes, gradually transforming as the art of needlework developed, they turned into more complex and intricate. Thus, the date of the origin of embroidery can be called the time when ancient people began to sew their own clothes.

The oldest embroidery on the fabric dates back to the 6th century BC. They are found in China. It is impossible to say for sure that they are made on a fabric basis for the first time. However, these are the oldest found works on fabric. The first mention of needlework dates back to much earlier times.
The settlement of people has led to the fact that the technique of creating cross patterns has spread quite widely. Depending on the local culture, it has received its own characteristics. All peoples have ornaments that are embroidered with a cross on clothes and are protective.

(source: seams and stitches)

Cross-stitch in the Byzantine Empire was distinguished by the beauty of silk sewing (silver, gold) and a variety of patterns. Historically, this significantly influenced the development of cross-stitch in many European countries during the Middle Ages, when their own unique ornaments and techniques appeared.
In the XVI century in Western Europe, counted embroidery became especially popular At that time, most of the subjects for embroidery were biblical subjects.
In the XVIII century, the classic stitch became more noticeable in cross-stitch. Embroidery themes have become more diverse.


(pinterest, Byzantine dress embroidery)

The history of needlework in the East
In eastern countries, needlework was   traditionally decorated with household items – capes, carpets, and pack bags. Needlework in the East has always been distinguished by a wide variety of colors and complexity of patterns.
The needlework of India and Iran are distinguished by a great variety of birds, animals, plant motifs and a classic national literary plot were depicted.


The history of cross-stitch in ancient Russia
In ancient Russia, the art of cross-stitch was owned by all women. This was due not only to the desire to be able to decorate their clothes, but also to the Old Believers' ingrained beliefs that endowed embroidery with protective qualities.
The Slavic peoples have special ornaments for decorating men's and women's clothing in the vast majority of cases associated with pagan deities of the Earth and the Sun, as well as images of the owner of the forest. Because of this, the main motifs are certain geometric ornaments, as well as stylized images of animals and birds.
To teach girls the skill of cross-stitch began at the age of 5-6 years, and by the age of 13-15, each had to prepare her dowry, which consisted of cross-stitch valances, towels, tablecloths and hats. Immediately before the wedding, it was publicly shown as evidence that the bride is hardworking and skilled in needlework.
As contacts with Byzantium developed, the influence of this culture transformed classical needlework in Russia. Motifs borrowed from Byzantium began to appear in the patterns.

In the XVI century, cross-stitch was considered an occupation for the rich, but since the XVIII century, embroidery has entered the homes of all strata of the population without exception.

Needlework of that time can be divided into:
- folk
- urban
Folk needlework was associated with rituals and customs. Needlework played not only the role of decoration. It played the role of a talisman, being located at the places of contact of the human body with the outside world (i.e. on the collar, sleeves, hem).

Cross-stitch in modernity

Today, cross-stitch has become a special applied art. The impetus for its development was given by the appearance of a variety of dyes that help to obtain threads of various colors and shades. In addition to the traditional ones, new foundations and auxiliary materials began to be used, facilitating the process and allowing you to create a multi-color picture even without the presence of skills.
There are a large number of schemes of different levels of complexity for the cross-stitch plot. Special designs designed to decorate clothes are being developed. They are outwardly much more interesting and complicated than antique embroidery, but thanks to new materials, it is much easier to perform.

The active development of this direction of needlework has occurred in the last 20 years, when its popularity began to grow. This was the impetus for the transition of embroidery to a qualitatively new level, when especially complex schemes for embroidery paintings began to appear.
In addition to classical cross-stitch, on the basis of this technique, its unusual varieties have arisen:
Diamond – this type of needlework appeared as a mixture of techniques of cross-stitch and mosaic. The same pattern is applied to the base as for embroidery, but instead of crosses, crystals are laid out on it, which leads to a similarity with a mosaic.


On metal surfaces – instead of canvas or canvas, metal is used, embroidery on it is carried out with threads or colored wire. Such needlework does not belong to the popular.

On a plastic canvas – this direction is widespread today. In this technique, embroidered bags, caskets, as well as various three-dimensional toys and decorative figures are created.

Cross-stitch can be turned into a favorite activity, doing which in your free time you can create beautiful and original interior items that will bring a cozy home to any home. And embroidery on pillows, shirts and towels can serve as an excellent souvenir or gift.
The history of cross-stitch goes back thousands of years. It has never lost its relevance and popularity, improving over time and changing its main purpose.


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