The weekly market here in our small Moroccan mountain town is fun. Mostly our destination is mountains of fresh vegetables and fruits, delightful in their seasonality. Occasionaly, we also browse the used goods section — kitcheware, textiles — brought from Europe via the ferry between Tarifa and Tangier. My local friend amassed this way some real treasures over the years; she is seriously crafty and appreciates good workmanship of others. In her footsteps, I and my daughter tried to look for some handwork in the souq as well.
These two embroideries are, I think, a form of blackwork, combined with some drawn work borders. (I am not really knowledgeable about the mapping and varieties of blackwork emboidery; just a semi-educated guess). The base fabric appears to be a blend of linen and cotton. The quality of embroidery is very nice indeed. There was a label attached to one of the pieces — sufficiently yellowed to make it interesting. It locates the work as originating from the cooperative ‘Arta casnica‘ from Breaza — according to a quick internet search, a small town in Romania known for tourism and traditional needlework cooperatives.
What’s the story behind these pieces? I choose to imagine they were purchased in the later 90s by an Italian lady visiting the area; someone perhaps remembering her own mother and grandmother engaging in needlework (although she could have been skillful herself — Italy retains a strong embroidery tradition to this day). The embroideries were stored away seeing no use, perhaps passed along to other family members, and ultimately neglected, until finally ending up in a van (very neatly, I must say) piled with other unwanted kitchen towels, table napkins, etc., etc. At which point they were adopted by us.