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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, case 5

Object Type
This embroidered band may have been used as a ribbon, intended for decorating or fastening clothes, or as the type of trimming known in the 16th and 17th centuries as a guard. Guards were decorative bands of rich material that were used as borders to conceal the seams on clothing.

Materials & Making
The ribbon has been made from a narrow piece of silk satin cut on the cross, which was possibly an offcut from the construction of a garment. Its colour was originally a rich purple, now faded on the front side. Its edges have been turned and slashed, in keeping with the fashionable practice at the time of cutting decorative slits into fabric. The pattern has been built up with a variety of stitches, knots and couched cords (corded thread laid down on the fabric and held down by stitching).

Subjects Depicted
Elizabeth I (ruled 1558-1603) was depicted in gowns decorated with embroidered eyes and ears in at least two portraits. In Elizabeth's case, the symbolism may have been intended to suggest ideas of Fame, the Art of Governmen or religious faith. But the combination of weeping eye and pierced heart on this ribbon makes an association with matters of love more likely.

Physical description

Length of embroidered ribbon, in two pieces. The ribbon is constructed from strips of pinkish brown satin (possibly faded from purple) cut on the cross. The edges have been turned in and cut with tiny nicks at right angles to the turned edge. There is one seam in each length. The ends are roughly cut and unfinished.

The ribbon has been embroidered with a repeating pattern of a weeping eye, borage flower, foxglove (?), rose, heart pierced with an arrow, leaf with a caterpillar, and marigold. The flowers all grow out of a twining stem, interspersed with smaller leaves and strawberries. The embroidery is worked in satin, pulled satin, long and short, stem, lattice and speckling stitches, with French and Turk's Head knots and couched silk cords for outlining. The colours are shades of green, blue, pink, brown and yellow.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1600 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk


Length: 110 cm, Width: 5.5 cm, Length: 44.5 cm repeat

Object history note

When acquired, the ribbons were mounted on a chasuble. Further pieces of the ribbon, and the chasuble, were acquired by Mrs Loewi-Robertson of Los Angeles, from whom the ribbon was subsequently acquired by Berlin Museum. See bibliographic reference

Descriptive line

Ribbon, embroidered, ca. 1600, English

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

King, Donald and Levey, Santina. Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750. London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1993. plate 66
Muhlbacher, Eva. Europaische Stickereien vom Mittelalter bis zum Jugendstil aus der Textilsammlung des Berliner Kunstgewerbemuseums. Dietrich Reimer Verlag, Berlin, 1995
Arnold, Janet. Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd. Leeds, W S Maney, 1988, p.83-4

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This silk ribbon is embroidered with symbols of love, a pierced heart and a weeping eye, among flowers and insects. It might have been a valentine gift to a woman to be used for trimming a dress. Ribbons were also given by the bride and groom to their wedding guests. [27/03/2003]


Silk (textile); Silk thread



Subjects depicted



Textiles; Embroidery; British Galleries; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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