Liturgica Obscura: The Curiosity of Bargello or Flame-Stitch Embroidery Work

Within the late 17th to mid-18th century there was a curious embroidery style known as "bargello" or flame-stitch. It was a style that was utilized for numerous objects, from clothing to furnishings, but examples of its use can be found in some vestment work from the period. 

Bargello involved brightly coloured, flame-like, zig-zag embroidered patterns. To our modern eyes it is strange to say the least -- and it is perhaps a good reminder that not all things antique are necessarily elegant, nor worthy of restoration. It is, however, worth cataloguing for our purposes here as an example of "liturgica obscura" -- obscure liturgica. 

This first example comes from Tuscany and, as you will see from the stemma, was for pontifical use -- presuming the next question, what is its liturgical colour, I would suggest 'white.'

The next example comes from the Cooper Hewitt collection in New York City, also originating from within Italy. You can see it is a slightly more muted version of bargello by comparison with the pontifical example above, but it certainly still represents the genre. 

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