Sunday, March 20, 2011

Second helping of Cabbage? FEUILLE DE CHOU, Part Deux

For those of you who are rabbits and therefore can't get enough feuille de chou cabbage leaf tapestries, read on:

Feuille de Chou (this is hard to type so I’ll just call it FDC) tapestries, as I mentioned in my last post above, are called that because of the mass of cabbage-like leaves dominating their fields.

I think they're the most striking and mysterious of all tapestries. Their design is almost abstract, a profusion of wild foliage seemingly emerging out of the darkness. Ooh, scary.

The first FDC tapestries appeared in the early 16th Century and probably evolved from what are called millefleurs (pronounced:”meel FLUR”) tapestries that are flowered and less dense tapestries. Here is the 15th century "Captive Unicorn" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Flemish, 15th century:

The funny thing about FDC tapestries is that they really don’t depict cabbage leaves at all.

And so the “cabbage leaf” name is really a misnomer. The leaves portrayed are actually meant to be acanthus (bear’s breach) plants. I have three of them in my back yard:

FDC tapestries are almost three-dimensional and often have animals or mythological creatures amid the foliage. What they rarely, if ever, depict are people. Why is that? I have no idea. But that’s just one of the many mysteries of FDC tapestries. Others are:

"What do FDC tapestries mean?”, and

“What do they symbolize?", and

“Why doesn't Buzz get a life and stop wasting time on boring subjects like this?”

All excellent questions, but no one really knows the answers: maybe these wild and dense thickets, appearing to be beyond the control of man, represent medieval society’s genuine fears of chaos or insanity (hmmmm.). Life then was short and brutish—that’s a quote from some famous guy (Thomas Hobbs?) that I studied in college . But I’m too lazy right now to look it up (it’s Saturday!). Hope you have a lovely weekend.

P.S. I know, now you’re all worked up over tapestries (dream on, Buzz) and probably want to know all about verdures too. But I’ll mercifully save that for another post. You can thank me later….

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