Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Darning Stitch Embroidery, Nyz

Hello all. I keep talking about how embroidery and weaving are some of the most ancient arts of mankind. We have little direct evidence, because textiles do not last in the same way that metalwork or pottery do. We do have some indirect evidence in the form of imprints of woven materials on pottery. Another indirect form of evidence is how widespread particular techniques are. Today i will focus on darning stitch embroidery, in Ukrainian called nyz or nyzynka. In darning stitch, one moves the needle up and down across the cloth, moving all the way across the design, imitating a shuttle. You will see that designs from many different places are similar because this technique develops diagonal lines, which result in diamonds, spurs, hooks, crosses, and similar motifs. The designs develop from the constraints of the technique.

Here is the oldest piece that i have access to. This is part of a sampler from 15th century Egypt.

This woman is from Ullensvang in Norway. Note the embroidery on her collar, cuffs, and apron.

This piece of embroidery is from the Dalmatian Mountains in Croatia.

 This is the upper sleeve of a woman's chemise from Moldova

This embroidery is used on the sleeves of both women's chemises and mens shirts in the Voronezh Province of Russia. The people of this area claim to be descended from the Polovtsy, a steppe tribe that migrated out of the east.

This is embroidery from the shoulder piece [inset] of a woman's chemise from Olonets [Russian] or Aunus [Finnish] Province,in the borderlands between Russia and Finland.

Here is a graph of a piece of embroidery from a woman's chemise of the southern Khanty people in Western Siberia.

This embroider is from the lower part of a pair of trousers worn by a woman of the Mien [Yao] people of the hills of southwest China and Thailand. They are famous for their embroidery, as are their close relatives, the Hmong [Miao]. Instead of embroidering in black on white, they embroidery in white and other colors on black or indigo.

This is the embroidery on the shoulder/upper sleeve of a woman's chemise from East Podillia, Kryhopil' county, Vinnytsia Oblast in Ukraine.

Here is a chart of a piece of embroidery from the shoulder piece, ustawka of a woman's chemise in the Boiko region, around the town of Turka, Ukraine.

This is embroidery from the Pokuttia region, in the lowlands between the Carpathians and the Dnister River, in Ukraine.

And of course we have to include an example from the Hutsul Region.

I make no claim that this presentation is comprehensive. I am sure that there are other peoples and regions that also use this embroidery technique. This is not proof of some genetic connection between these various peoples, but rather of the ancientness of this embroidery technique. It has had thousands of years to spread.

I hope that you have found this interesting and inspiring. Let us not settle for wearing what the fashion industry cranks out for us, but instead make something that continues the tradition of surrounding ourselves with things of beauty and self expression.

Thank you as always for reading.

Feel free to contact me with requests for research. I hope to eventually cover all of Europe and the Former Russian Empire/Soviet Union. I also gratefully accept tips on source materials which i may not have. I also accept commissions to research/design, sew, and/or embroider costumes or other items for groups or individuals.
Roman K.

Source Material:
Carol Humphrey, 'Samplers', Cambridge, 1997
Heidi Fossnes, 'Norwegian Bunads', Oslo, 1993
Dr. Jelka Ribaric et al, 'Croatian Folk Embroidery', Zagreb, 1973
S. Sharanutsa, 'Ornamente Populare Moldovenesht' [Moldovan Folk Ornament], Kishineu, 1984
G. Durasov et al. 'Russian Embroidery: Traditional Motifs', Moscow, 1990
Zsigmond Baty, 'Ostyak Himzesek' [Ostyak {Khanty} Embroidery], Budapest, 1921
Fei Xiaotong, 'Costumes of the Minority Peoples of China', Japan, 1980
Yevhen & Tetiana Prychepiy,  'Embroidery of Eastern Podillia', Kyjiw [Kiev], 2007
L. T. Krawchuk, 'Ukrajinski Narodni Vyshywky Lviws'ka Oblast' [Ukrainian Folk Embroidery of Lviw Oblast], Kyjiw [Kiev] 1961
Lesia Danchenko et al. 'Ukrainian Folk Art', Leningrad, 1982

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I have just discovered your blog. I wanted to add an example to your darning stitch post - kogin-zashi (こぎん刺し). Kogin started in the Aomori prefecture of Japan as a means to reinforce clothing fabric and add warmth. During the Edo period, peasants were not allowed to wear cotton, so they stitched their linen fabric using cotton thread to circumvent the law. Kogin embroidery has recently experienced a resurgence of popularity as a decorative handicraft, and is now used to decorate obi, brooches, purses, and household fabrics.