As I was reading Merklap Motieven (Sampler Motifs), an essential title on Dutch traditional sampler patterns by A. Meulenbelt-Nieuwburg, I came across a 17th century German hungertuch (hunger cloth). These cloths were hung on the altar on Ash Wednesday to indicate the start of Lent. For many years I’ve been fascinated with this particular cloth, and it was not until now that I’ve decided to turn this one into a pattern. There is a lot of Christian iconography on this sampler, and, though I am not an expert on the subject, I will try and clarify some of these images for you.
The central point of this sampler is the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God. It was taken from the Gospel of John, where the Lamb represents Jesus. The Latin text is from this gospel and reads:
ECCE AGNUS DEI
ECCE QUI TOLLIS PECCATA MUNDI MISERERE NOBIS
Which translates as Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Have mercy upon us.
The lamb is holding a cross with banners, and bleeds into the Holy Chalice. Underneath the lamb are what I believe to be three stylised flames, which symbolise the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.
Surrounding the Lamb is a floral border containing four diamonds containing the Christogram IHS. They are based on the first three letters of “Jesus” in Greek – IHSOVS. Flanking the border pattern are two sets of seven circles (possibly abstracted crowns of thorns). These contain symbols of the Passion of Christ. Clockwise from the top right corner the are:
• Ladder, Pliers & Hammer
• A wounded foot
• A wounded hand
• Lamb of God
• IOHN (Monogram for John the Baptist)
• ARA (in Latin Ara stands for Altar)
• IHS (Christogram for Jesus)
You can embroider this pattern as given, but it has many individual elements that can be used for other projects. There are several borders that would look great on any piece of embroidery. This piece would look best embroidered on a dark coloured linen (deep grey or black) with white thread, to represent the light and purity of the lamb.
This pattern measures 217 crosses in height and 357 crosses in width. Stitched over two threads on 32 count linen it would measure approximately 13 1/5” by 22 1/4” (34.5 by 56.5cm)
PDF sizes: this pattern is after purchase available in both A4 and Letter formats.