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Textiles (N) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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NANKEEN, NANKIN: A buff colored cloth originally made in the district of Nanking in China from a naturally buff colored type of cotton fiber. The original Nankeen has been superseded by ordinary cotton cloth, colored to imitate the genuine fabric.

NEEDLEWORK: Needlework is a broad, general term applying to embroidery, lace, and tapestry work. In the Tudor period chairs, upholstered with satin or velvet, were frequently enriched with applied needlework. During the William and Mary and Queen Anne periods in England needlework was particularly devoted to tapestries, in which a coarse canvas ground is entirely covered by close-set stitches of wool or silk. This work was accounted the duty of the women folk in country houses in England. Many examples are today in good state of presservation. The stitch generally used is a diagonal called the tent-stitch. Grospoint and petit-point are terms used also for this work, gros-point crossing two meshes of the canvas, and petit-point, the smaller, crossing but one mesh. In general, the designs follow those for tapestries and other textiles of the periods. Crewel-work was popular, also designs in imitation of the Chinese silks, embroideries, and other textiles imported at that time from the East. Some of the most important needlework panels were those designed for wall-hangings in imitation of woven tapestry. About 1770, needlework covers for seat furniture were superseded by silks, satins and tapestry.

Needlework in the American colonies was largely utilitarian, although as time passed and the conditions became somewhat easier for women, they indulged their taste for decoration and ornamentation by means of their needle. Firescreens, chair seats, bed-coverings and articles of clothing gave evidence of their skill and taste. Samplers, too, afforded work for the younger generation. See EMBROIDERY and LACE.

NEEDLEWORK PICTURES: In England needlework pictures in imitation of tapestry were made as early as the Tudor period and they were continued until the days of the Stuarts, corresponding roughly with the years during which tapestries were produced. The subjects consisted of Biblical scenes, chiefly, although there were others of current interest. Some of the later pictures were a combination of needlework and paint. The effect of these, in many instances, approaches the grotesque. One of the finest needlework pictures in existence today is to be seen in the Cluny Museum in Paris. It is a panel in high and low relief of the 16th century, representing the story of Eden. It is truly a work of art. In this country these pictures were introduced by the Moravians, who came to Pennsylvania soon after 1700. In their schools, they taught fine white embroidery, tambour, crewel-work, and the making of pictures with a needle on silk and satin. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this work became very popular in their district, and went under the name of Moravian-work.

NILLA: A cotton fabric imported into England from India in the 17th century. It was either plain or striped.

NOYALS: A canvas fabric made at Noyal, France, in the 17th century.