Reflections of the Exotic East | India


peacock

peacock

Peacock
Circa 1930
Possibly made in Tennessee
IQSCM 1997.007.0804, Ardis and Robert James Collection

The late 19th- and early 20th-century Aesthetic, Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements favored the peacock as a design motif. See, for instance, the pattern that French Art Nouveau designer M.P. Verneuil created based on the image of a peacock (above). The peacock is native to India, which adds significantly to its perceived exotic quality. It is a symbol of power and beauty in India, as well as the national bird, and is associated with the Hindu gods Brahma, creator of the universe; Kartikeya, god of war; and with the heavenly Buddha, Amitabha.

Style and Construction Note: A combination of outline, satin and French knot embroidery stitches create this brilliant bird. Women’s magazines and needlework catalogs in America offered many embroidered quilts like this one in the 1920s and ’30s, and the style remained popular for decades afterwards.