Print this page

Cyprian Redwork

An example of 18th century Cyprian red work embroidery, possibly from Lefkara. The image shows the corner of a bed cover. It is made from linen that is embroidered with dark red silk using long-armed cross stitch, italian cross stitch, double running stitch and satin stitch. An example of 18th century Cyprian red work embroidery, possibly from Lefkara. The image shows the corner of a bed cover. It is made from linen that is embroidered with dark red silk using long-armed cross stitch, italian cross stitch, double running stitch and satin stitch. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. T.153-1929.

It is not always clear where Cyprian redwork originated. Some authors attribute this style of work to Lefkara, others say it comes from the southern coastal town of Pafos and the surrounding region. What is clear is that this type of work was known in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and possibly still in the nineteenth century.

Cyprian redwork is a form of a counted thread embroidery (metritá; xombliastá), which was worked in dark red silk on a fine, white linen ground (later replaced with a cotton ground). The embroideries were worked in a variety of stitches, including various forms of cross stitch, double running stitch (Holbein stitch) and satin stitch.  

This type of embroidery was often used to decorate the borders of bed sheets and covers. The borders were frequently decorated with spiral designs of branches with flowers or fruit, which gives the impression of linear ornamentation. They are also decorated with linked ‘S’ scrolls ending in stylised vine leaves.

See also the TRC Needles entry on Cyprian embroidery.

Sources:

  • JOHNSON, Pauline (1972). A Guide to Greek Island Embroidery, London: Victoria and Albert Museum/HMSO, p. 31.
  • POLYCHRONIADIS, Helen (1980). Greek Embroideries, Athens: Benaki Museum, p. 28.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 6 July 2016).

GVE

Last modified on Tuesday, 09 May 2017 19:45