Friday 27 December 2013

A Babe Wrapt in Finely Embroidered Swaddling Bands

Swaddling has enjoyed a recent short revival. The swaddling garments these days are usually custom-made and resemble an armless and legless onesie, very unlike the bandage lengths used in the past. It is astonishing to see the lengths to which these bands were elaborately embroidered. In the case above they were made for the young prince Federigo, Duke of Urbino. And not only the bands are decorated, but the whole layette of cushion and comforter are similarly embellished - an incredible labour of love in the making - and also, I would suppose, the necessary laundering.

Two-month old Cornelia Burch has plain swaddling bands, though they resemble fine silk. Notice also her cushion and coverlet. (The rather vicious-looking spike in her hand is a rattle and a teether and in this case probably made of ivory, though many were made of coral.) How different are these wraps to the simple ones envisaged binding the young infant Jesus, below.

1 comment:

  1. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London has a magnificent whitework embroidered swaddling band, dating it about 1600-1625. Pick the detailed view to zoom in to see the incredible stitching: