The Malagasy Village pillow is dear to my heart as it captures the rural scenes I saw during my trips to Madagascar as well as my appreciation of Mayan symbolism in backstrap woven textiles. This one-of-a-kind pillow features the incredible story-telling textile art form unique to Madagascar, embroidered by the young women I had the pleasure of working with during my visits. Guatemalan weavers also tell their story through symbols inspired by the legacy of their ancestors. This pillow will bring be a conversation piece anywhere it is placed.
15” x 15” (38 cm x 38 cm)
Front – cotton
Back – linen, in turquoise
Polyester pillow insert
Fabric origins: Madagascar, Guatemala
The focal part of this pillow is the stunning embroidery of a farm scene in Madagascar, located off the southern coast of East Africa. The sumptuous Malagasy embroidery often uses naïve scenes of everyday life for inspiration. Mostly known for lemurs, vanilla and pepper, embroidery is an integral part of their distinct cultural heritage. Although Madagascar is only 250 miles off the African coast, its origins are from Indonesia at 4,000 miles away. In 1960, Madagascar gained complete independence from France after 87 years of rule. Through funding from Catholic Relief Services, and my employer, Serrv International, I have been fortunate to visit twice working with women embroiderers on product development and capacity building skills. With the use of short flat satin stitches or damask stitches, the fabrics are completely covered with embroidery telling the story of life in Madagascar. It is rich in color and detail, it has an enchanting perspective.
In keeping with a farming theme, I paired this handwoven back strap weaving depicting birds from San Pedro, Sacatepeques, Guatemala. In Maya Ixil symbols, the bird symbolizes the luck of having money and attracts wealth wherever it is taken. Using a supplemental weft technique, I believe the maker of this piece had fun weaving as all the birds are different color combinations as well as the border patterns and designs in the center between the dark red wide stripes. This piece was one of the first I collected during my years in Guatemala.