History tapestries

History Tapestries.

Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven by hand on a loom. Most weavers use a natural thread, such as wool, linen or cotton, but may include silk, gold, silver, or other alternatives.

The term tapestry is also applied to embroidered hangings, although these are not true tapestries. Embroiderers usually use silk and cotton threads and sometimes metal threads. Polyester, rayon and viscose threads are also widely regarded as suitable.   https://www.britannica.com/art/tapestry

There are many history tapestries, ancient and modern. For example:

The Lady and the Unicorn in Paris


The Quaker Tapestry in Kendal


The Great Scottish Tapestry in Edinburgh


The Bayeux Tapestry is probably the most famous of all history tapestries.  It is a 72-metre long account of the Norman invasion of England in 1066, using embroidered pictures.



In recent years the Bayeux Tapestry inspired Xhosa women in South Africa to create the 126-metre-long Keiskamma History Tapestry, which is on permanent display in the South African Parliament House in Cape Town.

The Keiskamma Art Project [KAP] was established in 2000 in three villages on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, where there was much poverty and ill-health, to help the community recover after the years of apartheid oppression.

Carol Hofmeyer, the founder of the Keiskamma Art Project, assisted by Jan Chalmers and Jacky Jezewski, created the Keiskamma History Tapestry.  Jan and Jacky provided embroidery training and other support to rural Xhosa women in one of the poorest parts of the country. By 2002 there was a network of embroiderers with established skills in textile and embroidery techniques, able to make a modest living by producing works for sale.  It was within this group that the idea of the History Tapestry emerged.

Time was spent in learning about the local history and the people. Input from academic historians and from the stories handed down by the Xhosa elders of the villages were also invaluable resources. An overall plan, was designed. It was made up of stitched panels, each panel telling an individual story and hand sewn by a group of 5 to 7 women. The project supplied sewing materials and each woman was paid according to her contribution. The 126 metres completed tapestry has left a legacy of pride and confidence in the community.

The work relates the story of the San and Xhosa people, through British and Apartheid rule, to the release after 28 years in jail of their most famous son, Nelson Mandela. This massive work of embroidered art has helped to educate people about South African history and has been acclaimed internationally, it currently hangs in the South African Parliament in Cape Town. The success that the Keiskamma History Tapestry had in telling the Xhosa story became an inspiration for The Palestinian History Tapestry Project