Well, I THINK we now have TWO fully stitched banners. I’m not totally sure - there’s always the possibility that I’ll pick one of them up and stitch it much more. But, here they are, photographed very unprofessionally on the bed, which has a nice side light to show the stitching:
The National Museum of Brazil
The printed fabric has a woolen backing. I basted it, then repeatedly stitched long black lines from top to bottom. Other than the white outlines on the lettering, that’s all. No embroidery, no decoration. This is a banner of loss, and the plain black and white seems appropriate.
The Gods of Literacy
This one has more stitching, but still no embroidery. Here’s some details:
I stitched on either side of the light lines - to raise them - and in the center of (most of) the black lines, giving them depth.
I keep looking at these two and something’s just not right. My Tablets are stretched over composite blocks, or stitched onto stacks of wool. Both methods present the images strongly. But these banners are just….quilts. They just hang loosely on the wall. I’ve always thought that part of the reason quilts aren’t taken as seriously as other art forms is this casual presentation - no frames, no matting, just flapping loosely on the wall. But these banners are too large to mount on wool stacks - I think. Maybe…. I’ll get back to you on this….
So, I cut 4 big pieces from a woolen blanket and started stitching them together. This won’t be as stiff as the fabric stacks on the Tablets, but…..just maybe, it will give the banner enough substance to be more of a bas-relief, less of a quilt:
I also cut metal rods to sew between layers at the top and bottom. A bit of wool, wrapped around the end, (below) will act as a brake, to keep it from slipping out.
Below, you can see the rod disappearing into the edge of the woolen layers. The rods will help this piece hang straight and totally flat against the wall.
While the top and bottom are rigid, the sides still bend. Here (above) you can see the last section of unfinished edge (right above my hand) and the rest sewn neatly together.
Now, hanging on a wall, it has substance, a physicality. It’s still very obviously cloth, but there’s nothing waving-in-the-breeze about this one. This piece can take on traditional quilts and spit out the stitches.
So I went out and bought 15 yards of heavy wool to do the same with the Brazil Museum Banner and the Malleus Banner. Hmm: probably need a new name. These aren’t banners anymore.
Happy to read your comments at email@example.com See you next week!
It seems to me that there should be actual text from Malleus Maleficarum in this banner. I looked around online, and sure enough, I was able to download the whole book! (Well, my husband was able to do it). Reading the book was difficult: it’s so hateful and nasty that I found myself trying to look for passages I could use without actually having my mind take in the words. But I found some text that spells out the repulsive meaning, and typed it into red/orange:
Now I just had to very carefully use the clone stamp tool to add the glowing words to my image:
You just never know when to stop, do you, Diane? Go on, add another layer:
It really seemed finished….but I didn’t like it, and didn’t know what else to do. I was actually smart enough to leave it alone for a few days. And I remembered a church I saw years ago, on a mesa out west. Long ago, Catholic priests had forced the building of the church, with the usual crucifix and saints. But the people who used and supplied the unwilling labor to build it also added their own images, on the ceiling, above the rest.
Yes, this banner is about the oppression of women…but let’s put them on top. Let’s find some medieval female faces showing horror:
But….when I Googled ‘Medieval women mourning’ (or screaming or yelling or crying or showing any agitation), the results were pathetic. These women (above) are….mildly displeased. Very few images of women in the Middle Ages show any real emotion. Then I remembered Niccolo Dell Arca and his Compianto sul Cristo Morto…
…a life-size group of six figures lamenting the dead Christ. Now, these figures show some emotion!
By using photos of three of the figures from different angles, I was able to get the faces I needed for this:
I think we’ve got it!
Ready to send to Spoonflower. If I keep sewing like crazy, I should have at least one of the other 2 banners ready to show you next week.
Top row: Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, Pope Innocent VIII. Second row: Johannes Nider, author of Formicarius, and Spanish inquisitor Nicholas Eymeric, author of Directorium Inquisitorum. Both of these texts were source material for the Malleus Maleficarum.
Actually….. the guy standing in front of Directorium Inquisitorum is NOT the real Nicholas Eymeric. There do not seem to be any images of this man. So…we have instead a picture of Tomás de Torquemada, another member of the Inquisition. Close enough.
Now, on to the images of the witches. Here’s a few of the many Medieval prints available online showing witches and their persecution.
There are many other, far more grisly images. But I don’t want this banner to be torture porn. I want to focus on how this old, now almost unknown book was behind the persecution and oppression of women. So I started collecting images of women from the medieval period:
After combing through many collected images, I chose the ones above. The Virgin Marys on the outer edges are statues, which (I hope) will read as tangible, three-dimensional figures. The next women in are images from paintings, while the women closet to the center - to the witch - are drawings. So, as we get closer to the B&W image of the burning witch, the women become flatter, less detailed. They become less real. Which is what the Malleus Maleficarum did, transforming women from human beings to imagined monsters.
I need a background setting for the scene. There are all sorts of ‘Medieval cathedral interior’ images online:
This one (below) is reasonably neutral and has great perspective, drawing your eye right into the center.
Photoshopped in the figures and the title. By dragging down the letter uprights and adding zigzags, I’ve turned the words into saws, cutting the women.
The images of the men have to be above the women, representing their oppression. Four of the men were easy enough to place facing inward, but I wasn’t sure where to put the pope. I couldn’t find an picture of his full face…and then realized that he could be facing down (below). Perfect!
The more I looked at the zigzags, the less I liked them. So I gathered up images of teeth (especially shark teeth) and saw blades using for cutting trees.
Look carefully at the photo above. I’ve changed Henrich Kramer slightly. Now he’s not writing in a book, he’s using his large red quill to write the title letters. Spencer’s hand tool has also been extended, to reach the words.
You might look at these last 2 images and think ‘that looks finished” . Well, no. Check in next week to see how much more I was able to cram into this one!
Heinrich Kramer wrote a book recommending practices that were too unethical for the INQUISITION! Kramer wasn’t excommunicated for that, though, they just shot him down for widespread endorsement.
His hatred of witchcraft was so strong that he justified torture, dismemberment and death in the name of God to root out that which he saw as evil. His methods were considered so beyond the pale awful that even the Catholic Inquisition told him to chill the heck out, and eventually the only place that would take him was Venice, the Las Vegas of 15th century Europe. So ultimately… a charismatic German has a meteoric rise to power and is strongly disliked by his peers and contemporaries. Sound familiar?
Kramer was an inquisitor in Germany, but felt that he wasn’t being given enough power. It seems he asked the pope, Innocent VIII, for help. In 1484, the pope issued Summis Desiderantes acknowledging the existence of witches and explicitly empowering the inquisition to prosecute witches.
And now the story descends into a really toxic stew, with all sorts of conflicting information. Kramer included Summis Desiderantes in the forefront of the Malleus Maleficarum implying papal support for the book. Malleus Maleficarum was condemned by the Inquisition in 1490…there was some scandal, Kramer always claiming support he didn’t have. According to https://www.faust.com/legend/malleus-maleficarum/Kramer and Sprenger submitted the Malleus Maleficarum to the University of Cologne’s Faculty of Theology on May 9, 1487, hoping for its endorsement. Instead, the clergy at the University condemned it as both illegal and unethical. Kramer nevertheless inserted a forged claim of support from the University into subsequent printed editions of the book.
The Church banned the book , placing it on the “Index of Forbidden Works. Malleus Maleficarum became a best seller. Here are some reviews:
So….forewarned, take a look inside Malleus Maleficarum.
Part 1 explains why women, by their weaker nature and inferior intellect, were supposedly naturally more prone to the lure of Satan. ‘when a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil’. All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable’
Part II describes the actual forms of witchcraft. . The most heinous of all crimes alleged to have been committed by witches in the Malleus is undoubtedly eating children.
Part III details the methods for detecting, trying, and sentencing or destroying witches. Many of the book’s reports of spells, pacts, sacrifice, and copulation with the Devil were gained from the tortures of Kramer’s inquisitions. Torture in the detection of witches is dealt with as a matter-of-course; Red-hot tongs were applied to womens' breasts and genitalia. Researcher Nancy van Vuuren has written that "The women's sex organs provided special attraction for the male torturer." It should not be surprising that just about every torture victim eventually confessed.
>sigh<….Kramer’s twisted sexuality and his awful book encouraged horrible misogyny and led to a widespread Medieval program against women. At LEAST 40,000 women were killed. And it allowed the church to easily subordinate people and openly denigrate women (there’s nothing like an Inquisition for truly effective behavior modification…)
https://www.thoughtco.com/persecuting-witches-and-witchcraft-4123033 says: The perception of women as inferior to men… has survived down through this day in the most conservative and fundamentalist religious movements around the world. Religious institutions and doctrines are a primary repository for ancient beliefs about the social, physical, political, and religious inferiority of women. Even if the rest of society is moving on and improving women's status, religion remains a main source of beliefs and attitudes which retard that progress in the hopes of reversing it completely.
The women questioned as witches would eventually agree to every ludicrous, insane suggestion of their torturers….so, really, most of our information about witches is based on the imaginings of seriously twisted Medieval men. Of course, just like Grimms’ Fairy Tales, the gory and sexual bits have been scrubbed off over the years, so today we have silly old witches on broomsticks, with no sexual connotations.
Witches cooking small children, kissing the devil’s butt, and stomping on a cross.
from 1720, dancing with the demons (above) and flying on broomsticks (below)
A witch feeding her familiars (below)
Look, what I’m giving here is a highly condensed account. If you’d like to learn more, check out these websites: