Saturday, February 3, 2007
Purple Cross Block for Lydia
For week 51 of the Women of the Bible study group I have completed the Purple Cross block for Lydia. Lydia was Paul's first European convert to Christianity. She was a dealer in purple dye and the first European church met in her home. The purple dye came from sea mollusks in the Mediterranean Sea and it took so many to make a tiny bit of dye, that only the rich and royalty were able to wear purple clothing. [I've been interested in natural dyes since taking a course in Navajo spinning, dying, and weaving at Henderson Museum, CU Boulder a little over 30 years ago so was excited to study about Lydia. Unfortunately, there were no sea mollusks in Boulder, so we used plants, lichens and cochineal bugs to dye our homespun wools.]
The choice of purple fabric was pretty much a given. I also added a little green to symbolize the life of the new European church with gold to indicate the presence of God. The block was done with fused, machine applique and stitched with gold thread.
The story of Lydia is found in Acts 16:6-40.
It is not clear to me, from the way her story is written whether she was selling the actual dye or purple dyed cloth. Some people think she was a weaver, who was selling her purple dyed cloth. This makes sense to me, because according to the book "Women's Work: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Years" (which I highly recommend) by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, weaving and trading and selling cloth was the first industry and was done by women because they could do at home while caring for the children. There were many extremely successful fabric businesses run by women in this part of the world during the time of the New Testament and earlier.
Her information was gathered through the discovery of spinning and weaving tools and writing on tablets in archaeological digs because very little actual fabric has survived.