Wednesday 19 March 2014

Celtiberian Tessera Hospitalis - The Hand of Friendship

One of the most delightful motifs to find on any sampler is The Hand of Friendship. Here you can see on one of the beautiful samplers from the Micheal and Eliazbeth Feller Needlework Collection (F367) the motif occurring twice. And below you can see a close up of the motif. In this instance the hands are quite compressed in the clasp, in other instances the fingers of the upper hand are straighter.
The motif often occurs on Scottish samplers and is thought to signify a union. On Dutch samplers it signifies more specifically a betrothal or marriage. And one would theorize that it represents the union of two people or, perhaps more importantly, two families or two nations.
I had not appreciated until recently when I returned to look at some of my early history and anthropology books that this symbol has very ancient origins.

What the Romans called hospitium dates from much earlier times in the landmass we now call Spain and Portugal. Above you can see how reciprocal hospitality between two communities was formally recorded in pre Roman times on inscribed tablets exchanged between participants from Botorrita, Zaragoza. And to return to the first example again - a later Roman example (below) you can see the inscription on the reverse of the hands which reads: A Token of Hospitality with P. Turullio.

Needleprint 10th Anniversary - Save $95.

To share our 10th anniversary celebrations with you, we are offering throughout the month of March 2014 a Free Goodhart Samplers Book or a Free Feller Needlework Collection Volume 1 with every copy of The Feller Needlework Collection Volume 2. You can take advantage of this special offer today. It comes with all our kindest wishes in this our last year before retirement.

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