There are a few things that many people don't realize about swaddling bands at the time and place of the Savior's birth. (I include that distinction because swaddling bands have been different in different cultures.) Swaddling bands in that culture were not just for wrapping up infants; they were made by a bride leading up to her wedding to be used in that ceremony. She would embroider them with symbols of, I believe, her own and her husband-to-be's heritage. It may really have been just one or the other, but my research was a bit hurried, and Mary and Joseph were both of the House of David, so that detail didn't matter as much to my project. The embroidery was to be identical on both sides to symbolize honesty in marriage--inside matching the outside and nothing being hidden. These same swaddling bands would later be used to wrap their children.
I used a double running stitch because it matches on both sides, and I am significantly less skilled at making any fill stitches match on both sides. I also didn't have a lot of time, and just outlining is obviously faster. Most of the motifs I used are symbols of the House of David, and all have meaning as symbols of our Savior Jesus Christ. When Mary was first betrothed, she did not know she would be the mother of the Son of God, and I don't think she fully understood His mission until He had completed it, so she would not likely have been thinking in those terms. However, they are all things she would reasonably have used; they just have other meanings for modern Christians. The bands are white, and I embroidered in shades of blue throughout because blue and white are the colors of the House of David.
The first motif I embroidered was a pomegranate. Most people think of this as a symbol of fertility, but in Jewish embroidery, it symbolizes a righteous priesthood holder, which of course, our Savior was. Mary would also have wanted to establish her family in righteousness. I adapted my design from two different ones by Paula Katherine Marmor. Her designs are in a renaissance blackwork style, but I liked them. I possibly should have used a different style, but it's a bit late to change my mind now.
|My original design was too tall for the width of the fabric.|
|This has been adjusted for height.|
|I haven't done any blackwork for years, so this isn't my best work. I should have practiced.|
|This design was also originally too tall.|
|My tree design altered for height. When I went over it in pen this time, I unfortunately used a very blotty pen.|
|This one looks a little messy mostly because I didn't photograph it until after it had been handled a lot, and I could still use some work on anchoring my ends in a double running stitch. I'm rather proud of it over all, though.|
|This design is more truly my own. I used drawings of lions for reference for the dormant position and several different pictures of very old embroidery for the general style.|
|The wavy lines on the lion's mane were done freehand.|
|I have lost my reference photo for this design, so I am unable to give credit where credit is due. If anyone recognizes this (even as very similar because it is not an exact copy) please help me figure out who to credit.|
|I didn't even attempt to keep this true to old embroidery styles because I couldn't even find embroidered lambs, and embroidered sheep weren't particularly recognizable as sheep. This drawing is completely my own.|
|This was photographed on my beautiful mosaic table, made by my sister.|
Until next time!