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dinsdag 24 maart 2015

Lace – the product of Bruges

When people visit the city of Bruges, they’re often confronted with shops filled with lace. Before I tell you the story/legend of these beautiful artful pieces let me give you a little warning. When you want to buy real, handmade lace you mustn’t go to these shops in the center. I know that the little sign sometimes says “handmade”. But the only thing about all this, the sign that says “handmade” is the only real handmade thing in all this. I’ve even seen lace with a little label that stated “made in China”… So careful with overpaying on the lace!

But, I promised a story about lace!
The story can be found several times in books, but strangely there’s never a year or century that mentoines when this story takes place.
We know that the first spinning wheel was invented somewhere around 1035. It was in… China (pure coincidence, really). Leonardo Da Vinci painted a spinning wheel in 1480, but the wheel as we know today was invented in 1520-30 by a German engineer. So we can assume our story doesn’t take place before the 15th century.

A widow named Barbara had 5 children, and they all had to work hard to survive financially. They were masters with the spinning wheel so the device was in constant usage. Her oldest daughter, Serena realized pretty quickly that all this hard working wasn’t sufficient and despite all their efforts they were still hungry and poor.
Every evening Serena fiercely prayed in honor of Our Lady, making a promise: if by some miracle the family would get a better life, she would resign from any joy and hope her heart cherished.
The following spring Serena gets a day off to rest from all the hard working, so Serena decides to go for a relaxing walk in the woods with her best friend Arnold. When the young people take a resting moment, spiders descend on the lap of Serena and start walking up and down her lap. Serena doesn’t know what’s happening but notices soon there’s a pattern in the work of the little spiders. Shapes of birds, animals and flowers are seen in the work. The spiders finish their work; Serena and Arnold make a little frame with small branches to carefully take the work back home.
This is the miracle Serena prayed for and she starts to copy the work of the spiders. Soon she get tangled in all the different wires, but Arnold makes little bobbins so it’s easier to work.
The inspiration comes quickly and Serena soon starts to make own designs. Rich people notice the beautiful work and pretty soon the lace is one of the most desired items in the city.
With the growing demand and the high pricing of the lace, more prosperous times come to the family.
However, the friendship between Arnold and Serena grew into more romantic feelings. When Arnold takes up his courage and asks Serena’s hand, and although she says she loves him deeply, Serena tells Arnold she can’t marry him. He doesn’t know about the promise Serena made in her prayers and she doesn’t tell him.
A year later Serena decides to remember and celebrate the moment of the miracle. So she goes back to the place where it all began. Arnold follows her without her noticing. Arriving at the spot of the miracle, Serena sits down and starts to pray to Our Lady. Not accepting Arnold’s proposal hurt her and Arnold so she asks for help. Again spiders descend on the lap of Serena and start making another work. This time it has the shape of a bridal bouquet and the text “Serena, I relieve you from your promise”.
Seeing this, Serena starts crying and Arnold (who was hiding in the bushes close to her) comes out to help her. She tells him about her promise and shows him the new work. Now Arnold understands why she couldn’t accept his proposal, goes down on one knee and asks her again. This time she says ‘yes’ and soon the young couple marries.
This story can be seen on some bas-reliefs in the Steenstraat (the shopping street of the city), number 40. I put these reliefs with this text, enjoy !