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VocalEyes - Hall's Croft

Sweet Bag, 1560-1600.



This silk satin bag sings with jewel-like colours. Although made between 1560 and 1600, these colours seem undimmed - as bright and vibrant as the day it was made.

It's a square draw-string bag, measuring about 25 centimetres across. The base fabric is a deep pink satin, over which leaves and flowers are embroidered with colourful thread. An abundance of delicate stems curl and weave their way over the fabric. From these blossom bright yellow flowers. The pink circle in the centre of their 8 rounded petals is highlighted by a metal spangle, or sequin. A profusion of almond shaped leaves have a deep green core. The embroidery silks are intricately graded to lighten their colour through lime green to yellow at the outer edge. Other plumper buds have red grading to pale pink - their tops are crowned with three tiny spikes, like a thistle. More spangles are scattered among the flowers, attached with silver and gold thread they make the whole design glitter.

The bag uses a drawstring fastener which is threaded through eyelets which run around the top of the bag. The draw-strings are multi-coloured, using the same pinks, greens and yellows as the bag - the colours plaited together to create a thin cord. The same cord is used to create a long handle, attached to the top corners of the bag. Where they join, is a Celtic knot of metal thread. The draw-strings end with two acorn-shaped tassels of coloured and metal thread, which hang down either side. Three smaller tassels, made only of the metal thread, decorate the bottom of the bag.

This type of decorative bag or purse is often referred to as a sweet bag. It may have been used to hold herbs or flowers, or powdered perfume to mask the unpleasant odours of the time. It may also have been used a courtship gift, a token of love, and may have held a smaller, symbolic gift inside. The handle would allow the bag to be carried at the waist.