Embroidery in Glass

Here we have a beautiful collection of designs by Timea inspired by the symbolism of Hungarian folk embroidery. In her illuminating 'visual poem', Timea explains:

'Hungary boasts more than twenty different folkloric regions, each with their own motifs, which can vary widely.

There are almost no villages in Hungary without embroidery. Folk embroidery is more unbound, lax both in its composition and in its stitches than noble embroidery. Floral and figural motifs are not stylised, but are rather simplistic and naive. Colours are the rich main colours of red, blue and black. In my work I reach back to two important or best known regions.

The embroidery style of northern Hungary is called Matyo where the whole surface is covered with bright designs. Another very important type is from the Great Plain region and is called Kalocsa; this was traditionally done in white up until quite recently. 

Each one of the motifs and colours has its meaning. The only colour we find in the oldest embroideries and hand-woven fabrics is red, which was primarily used to express joy, passion and high spirits. In the old days, red was considered to have a protective power; it was associated with life and blood, fire which gives or takes life, and light. It was believed to protect infants from witches and their evil eye. It also expressed health and youth.

White was generally used to express clarity and innocence, but in some regions it could also reflect old age and paleness, which is why it was also the colour of mourning. Blue and green were often associated with ageing, and most young women did not wear those colours. In addition to old age, dark blue represented wisdom, sensibleness, love of peace and reconciliation with the world. A combination of dark blue and white was very important in the folk ornaments of the Germans living in Hungary, because it was associated with calmness and usefulness. Medium green was a sign of spring, hopefulness and renewal in folk art; a meaning of improved fertility was attributed to leafy branches. Black was usually the symbol of mourning.

About the motifs:

Tulip: one of the oldest and most used motifs. The tulip is the symbol of a woman. If it is together with a heart, they collectively symbolise love and relationship.

Lily: mostly used as the tulip but it can represent naivety and immortality.

Liane, runner motifs: symbolise the continuity of life, the upheaval of the soul, the journey to God.

Tree of Life:  the most powerful motifs, they entwine the human world as we know it with the spiritual world.'

Words by Timea Varga