Bring me the Head of John the Baptist

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I spent a good chunk of the Easter weekend working on my Aubrey Beardsley ‘Salome’ embroidery which has lain neglected down the side of the sofa for a good couple of months. The reason for the title of this post is due to a surreal moment I had on Good Friday watching the film ‘King of Kings’ – a classic Biblical Epic from the early 1960’s (aren’t the best of this genre from the 60’s?) while I was stitching. As I worked on the hair on the severed head of John the Baptist, the film grabbed my attention as the scene I was stitching was being played out on screen!

But on Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before them: and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath, to give her whatsoever she would ask of him. But she being instructed before by her mother, said: Give me here in a dish the head of John the Baptist. And the king was struck sad: yet because of his oath, and for them that sat with him at table, he commanded it to be given. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

And his head was brought in a dish: and it was given to the damsel, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body, and buried it, and came and told Jesus. (Matt 14:6-11, D-R)

 (Thank you Wikipedia for a brief Bible Lesson! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salome)

I’ve never read the Bible and I’m only half way through the Oscar Wilde play from which the embroidery is taken so I’ve started looking at the subject matter slightly differently now!

Here’s how Salome is described on her Wiki page – I think Beardsley totally captured her sensuality in his illustration:

Christian traditions depict her as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness, notably in regard to the dance mentioned in the New Testament, which is thought to have had an erotic element to it, and in some later transformations it has further been iconized as the Dance of the Seven Veils.

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As you can see I’ve neatened up the edges of the applique and I’m really pleased with how this is looking now. I’ve taken the decision to fill the entire bottom section with a mix of split stitch and stem stitch which is opening me up to a fair few hours of intense stitching (I must say that stitching black thread on black fabric isn’t exactly thrilling but the density it gives to the embroidery is worth it.
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Still a way to go with it and I’ll probably leave it lying for another spell while I work on other things but at least I can see the end in sight now!

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