Thursday, September 09, 2010

An Old Willow Pattern Irish Linen Tablecloth

I love willow pattern crockery in blue and white, especially those wonderful old earthenware platters that you sometimes come across. There's something about old blue and white ware that goes extremely well with dark wood furniture. Now, 'brown furniture' has had a spell of being deeply unfashionable here in the UK. You can still pick up an Ercol oak dresser with matching table in your local saleroom for the proverbial 'song.' Less, in fact, that you would pay for flat pack chipboard. Much of it has been transported, in containers, to the USA, where they seem to appreciate this solidly built and really very attractive furniture rather more than we do. However - as so often happens in the antiques business - times and fashions are changing. It has a lot to do with ideas of recycling, or upcycling, I think, with the fashion for all things vintage, both in clothes and household goods. (I've been wearing vintage for years, since I was a student, in fact. I like to think I was ahead of my time, rather than just poor!) We may not all be quite ready for a complete resurgence in the intricacies of Victoriana  but people are certainly beginning to appreciate real wood, either the lovely chunky simplicity of genuinely old oak, or the later equally lovely lines of well made oak furniture from the 1900s.

All of which also goes some way towards explaining the growing popularity of lovely old linens, for bed and table alike. Why spend a fortune on new polycottons, when you can get fabulous antique textiles for a good deal less.  In one of my recent auction lots of old linens, I found a new and unused (albeit very grubby)  'double damask' Irish linen tablecloth, patterned all over with an absolutely gorgeous Willow Pattern design. Not only that, but woven into the cloth itself is the actual willow pattern story:

'Koong Shee, daughter of a rich mandarin, loved Chang. But her father, wishing her to marry a wealthy suitor, shut her up in the house to the left of the temple. Chang, disguised, effected her release and the lovers, pursued by the Mandarin, fled to Chang's island.They lived happily there until discovered by the wealthy suitor who burned down their home when from the ashes, their twin spirits arose in the form of two doves.'

So unusual - and imagine such a tablecloth being used - as was probably the intention of the company that made it - with a willow pattern dinner service. What a talking point that would be!

1 comment:

Erna said...

Another wonderful story to read