New year brought a new theme for our Fifteen by Fifteen quilt challenge group. This time we decided to make a series of 6 quilts, related to the country of our choice. The theme for the first quilt was country emblems. We had to represent it in a way that the country’s name wouldn’t be on the quilt. It could be mentioned in a statement though but I managed not even do that. Here I am free to say what comes to my mind, right? I am proud to present Vytis as a main emblem of Lithuania.
Over the years I traveled to many countries of the world, and made many quilts inspired by my travels. But there is one country that has a special place in my heart. I feel that I owe this country so much, I will never be able to give back enough for what this country gave to me. I hope you already guessed what country it is: of course- Lithuania!
All 6 of my this series quilts will be made using Lithuanian linen fabrics. That’s a big challenge to me because you all know how much I like bright colors. My favorite of linens is unbleached linen that is grayish color. I already made a few quilts using linen fabrics. Go to my portfolio gallery Song of Linen to see them. I am also going to make those quilts mostly by hand sewing and hand stitching.
Flax and Linen in Lithuania
In Lithuania, a small country in Northern Europe with a very rich history, linen has a special place in the nation‘s traditions, arts and crafts. Flax has been grown here since the times of the Baltic tribes that were living in the modern country‘s territory from around 2000 BC. Even in the early 20th century, when the availability of other fabrics was much greater, flax and linen had a major part in Lithuania‘s exports. The significance of linen in Lithuania has diminished ever since. Yet there are still some folk artists in the country who weave linen and keep the traditions alive. And many women use unbleached linen yarn to crochet doilies, blouses, skirts and dresses. So did I when I was younger.
The importance of linen to a Lithuanian can be clearly seen in the folk songs. Folk songs are one of the greatest and most significant parts of the Lithuanian heritage. Up to the mid-20th century, people had sung songs on every occasion, including the seeding and cutting of flax and weaving of linen. Linen also appears in other folk songs, such as the ones about war or marriage.
Vytis and other emblems
Vytis [‘vîːtɪs], the knight on horseback, is one of the oldest coats of arms of European countries. The first image of the charging knight depicted on the seal of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas, goes back to the 1366. The earliest coins featuring the knight come from the last quarter of the 14th century. The other side of these coins depicts the Columns of Gediminas (Gedimino Stulpai). Columns are also one of the earliest symbols Lithuania. By the 15th century, the heraldic knight became representative of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The other important emblem of the country is a double-cross. The double-cross was attributed to Grand Duke Jogaila, after his marriage with a Hungarian princess and King of Poland Hedvig Angevin in 1386. It is derived from the Hungarian cross.
I used a stylized image of the Vytis that I must give a credit to the unknown author. I needed to print a reverse image of Vytis:
The size I needed wasn’t going to fit into A4 format paper sheet. First I had to learn how to print an image on multiple pages:
The rider and the horse usually are white on a red background. My red linen fabric was very loosely woven so I had to use fusible stabilizer:
I used Pellon Wonder Under to transfer image on and to fuse it onto an off white batik:
Then I cut a red piece of fused linen in a shape of coat of arms, and fused the rider on it. For security I zigzagged it all around with the small zigzag stitch using invisible thread:
After that I hand appliqued the red coat of arms to the unbleached linen background and started hand stitching it all over:
The original Vytis on the coat of arms of the country wears a shield over his left shoulder with a golden double cross on it. The double cross has been accepted as a symbol of the country since 1388.
As my knight doesn’t wear a shield, I embroidered the double cross in the lower left corner, as well I embroidered Columns of Gediminas in the right lower corner:
These emblems: Vytis, Columns of Gediminas and Double Cross were handed down through the generations and restored as the symbols of the country every time the country got independence from an aggressive neighbor.
This is the actual coat of arms of Lithuania: