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Tears of Yaroslavna

“From our ancestors come our names, but from our virtues come our honours.“

Latin proverb
a piece of bobbin lace tablecloth and an old jewellery box are laying on the table

Antique things have an appreciation and worth. Some pieces can be old, whereas they can be timeless, antique. If this antique is preserved and deemed precious, it can be passed down as a family heirloom. I value skills, prioritising the possessing of knowledge instead of just retaining something material. It would be great if people remember that the most important aspect of family history is keeping a record of the present for the future because it is a perishable commodity, disappearing with time, as memories fade, and as loved ones pass on, leaving the signs of their existence created by them. Family heirlooms are parts of private stories that make the history of a nation. The family tradition of embroidery, lace-making, including the old creations made by women in my family, is my private history and the source of my inspiration for this piece.

sketching of an embroidery pattern

Any antique piece is a lush source of inspiration in the aspects of materials and the imagery for any artist, no matter if it is an old tablecloth, a curtain, or a piece of an apron with a filigree of fine whitework.

fitting the materials to the drawn embroidery pattern

For this piece of embroidery, the lace made by my great-grandmother became extremely inspiring. In her hands, the twists and tiny knots on flax thread formed stars, snowflakes and flowers. I use the reflection of these elements to construct the relief made with cotton cords; they transform the plane surface into a complex structure; for outlining the layered contours that wrap the crystals and beaded embellishments.

the canvas base with caster crystals stitched on top

Searching for the best techniques and the materials, I chose the construction of high-relief embroidery, the use of freshwater pearls, gold and silver wire and crystals. The ancient local craftsmen traditionally used these materials to decorate Tsar's robes.

hands stitching the cord with couching stitch

The name and the imagery are inspired by the plot of the medieval epic poem "The Tale of Igor's Campaign" and the same-called opera by Alexander Borodin.

the shiny beads and pearls close-up

I use the symbol of a solar eclipse crown which makes the "ray-shape" for the tiara. Blue crystals in the beaded setting remind the sore tears of Yaroslavna, scared by eclipse and possible tragedy, pleading and crying, appealing to the Prince to stay.

the sun beams sparkle on the glass beads

Yaroslavna’s faith is reflected in the symbolism of freshwater pearls. They surround each "tree-shaped" element associated with the figure of God Mother. Old East Slavic associated pearls with "family seeds" - the signs of hope and prosperity.

the close-up of the beaded element of the embroidery

I use these symbols as the hidden-narrative elements in my work together with recognisable symbols of Christianity - "dome" and "cross" applied in the beaded elements. Each twist, knot and stitch here is made by hand, like every "twist" and turn in history - done by humans. This is not something we just inherited.

a view of an embroidered Russian Tiara

This - is something that we create day by day and keep, not as a burden of memory but as an ornament, to illuminate souls and teach offspring.

a close-up of Russian Tiara bow