Thursday, May 26, 2011

Part II of Normandy adventure: Bayeux tapestry

So I was mildly excited to see this at first, because let's face it it's an old piece of cloth and as historic as that is I couldn't imagine it being that cool. But you know, we were there and it's supposedly really famous so we went and saw it--why not?--and I'm really glad we did because it was actually incredible. There is so much detail and just the sheer length of this thing is impressive! (It could probably wrap around an average house) 

You get to the place and before entering the darkened room they hand you a device that looks like a very old cell phone, which you press against your ear to hear the story told by the tapestry (which is actually an embroidered cloth, not a tapestry--there's a difference!). And as you can see below it is very... colorful. 

You know, pillaging, chopping off arms and clubbing people, raping villagers... the usual. Guillaume is victorious and everybody's happy in the end (except for the serfs who lost their villages but they don't count apparently. Oh, and Haley's comet makes an appearance. It's a bad omen.)

Then you can walk on to an expo about the tapestry and how it was preserved, how it's made, etc. And it hit me: it is such a cool idea to record the history of your people in such a vivid manner--the idea was to make it pictorial so even illiterate peasants could understand (ah you see, poor people did matter enough that it was important they know their history!), and it's kind of the same idea with making it accessible to kids don't you think?

So I think it'd be fun to do some sort of project like this that I could add to over time and that would tell our family's story. Eh? Of course, I think I'd go for something a little more... sophisticated than disproportionate guys in chain mail hacking at each other's horses, but it could be a pretty awesome idea. Oh and I'd drop the Latin too. French and English should be plenty enough. Say, for example, something appliqu├ęd onto some sort of quilt or throw, and I could create new ones every couple of years to continue the story. I don't know, but I feel inspired. The craftsmanship that went into this tapestry is so meticulous and so unique that it just comes alive and the stories jump off the cloth. I love it.

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