The New World Tapestry

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cene Two
         1595-6 PANEL

As this panel begins with the Guiana story it was thought most appropriate to invite His Excellency Francisco Kerdal-Vegas the Venezuelan Ambassador to make the very first stitch in it at a ceremony in Tiverton’s Town Hall in 1988. The choice turned out to be doubly fateful for not only was 1988 the 400th anniversary of the Armada but the Ambassador was a direct descendant of Admiral Don Martin de Bertendona, Commander of the Levantine Squadron in the battle with the English. It was also Bertendona who later, in 1591 captured Sir Richard Grenville’s ship ‘Revenge’ off the island of Flores.

At the top of this scene Tiverton Castle in Devon is shown because it is where this panel was stitched. The shepherd and shepherdess standing either side of the fortress allude to Tiverton’s long association with the wool trade. Naturally the shepherd is eating Shepherd’s Pie.

In Guiana some native villages consist of huts built in trees in the swampy regions surrounding the rivers. Raleigh also reports that he has searched without success for the ‘El Dorado’, the fabled Indian Chief reportedly covered in gold. He mistakenly thinks that Guiana has similar wealth to other areas being ransacked by the Spanish. The Dons have already sent twenty expeditions in search of ‘El Dorado’ for it is believed that this golden man is the Inca himself who with some of his people has fled from Peru and founded, across the Andes, a new empire. These previous expeditions burned Indians and tore them to pieces with dogs to get information.

tapestry photo 1595-6 scene two

STITCHWORT   Stellaria holostea.  The common name refers to the use of the plant in easing ‘stitches’ in the side and similar pains. A preparation of stitchwort and acorns taken in wine was the standard remedy.

DILL  Anethum gravelens.  ‘is of great force or efficacie against the suffocation or strangling of the mother, if the woman do receive the fume thereof being boyled in wine, and put under a close stoole or hollow seat fit for the purpose’. Gerard.

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