Type of sourceDatabase “Metropolitan Museum of Art”
Fund that the source refers toMetropolitan Museum of Art
This object is from the collection of Natalia de Shabelsky (1841-1905), a Russian noblewoman compelled to preserve what she perceived as the vanishing folk art traditions of her native country. Traveling extensively throughout Great Russia, she collected many fine examples of textile art of the wealthy peasant class. From the 1870s until moving to France in 1902, Shabelsky amassed a large collection of intricately embroidered hand-woven household textiles and opulent festival garments with rich decoration and elaborate motifs. The Brooklyn Museum holdings include many fine examples including the majority of the garments. Portions of Shabelsky’s collection are also housed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Cleveland Art Museum, and the Russian Museum of Ethnography in St. Petersburg.
The plant form in this towel border appears to be representative of the goddess in the birthing position. The goddess and tree of life are often interchangeable in Russian embroidery. This plant resembles an abstracted human form with a rounded belly and flowers representing her hands and feet. Flowers are often associated with the goddess, as a headdress and held in her hands, or replacing her head and hands. The minor goddesses on horseback flanking the great goddess also have rounded bellies with the addition of a flower motif on the belly.