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Thursday, December 2, 2010

A long time

My great-grandmother, Augusta Anderson Broberg, came to this country with her husband, John August Broberg, sometime after 1870 from Halmstad, Sweden and settled in Augusta, Michigan. Great-Grandma Broberg's life was not easy, and I'm afraid it is one which leaves some of her descendants with lots of questions. She lived in a simple house, what we call an "American Four-square" with her family. She seemed to be an astute women, and even though she had more than her share of bumps (her husband dying and leaving her with a rather large family to support), she managed to do well enough. Unfortunately, she died of a massive heart attack in the 1930s when she was 51.

This comforter, while tattered and torn, is probably one of her pieces. She is the only relative I have who I know quilted. Her house was inherited by my Great Aunt Amanda (Amanda Wilhelmina Broberg Janes) and much of their belongings remained there until Aunt Man moved to an assisted living place in Battle Creek in 1979 after falling and breaking her hip. Aunt Man had previously given me a bow-tie top in red, white and blue dated to about 1915 and her large quilting frame.

Faded, well used, and lumpy, it was tied and eventually "retired" to a trunk in the attic. I purchased the trunk and its contents at auction in 1979.

Properly, this quilt is a "swastika", but is more often referred to now as a pinwheel. Most people avoid this pattern like the plague as we too often associate it with the Nazi swastika. This ancient pattern is found in many cultures and usually represents the four cardinal directions as well as fertility and prosperity. One of the English terms for it is "flyfot." I have seen 18th century Connecticut chests with the same swirling pattern carved into the bonnets. It is found in Sanskirt writings as well as Native American designs. I find it a pity that the work of one madman and his nasty henchmen have made it so that this ancient design is not used.

I'm not sure, but I think that the tan patch is one which was pieced with "cadet" or "Prussian" blue which had the unfortunate tendency to fade away to brown when washed in alkaline substances. The other blue, the first one, is an indigo blue print and when viewed closely, you can see the white threads underneath. Indigo doesn't really saturate the threads, but tends to sit on top and can be abraided away. Think about your favorite jeans and how the knees and thighs look just before they wear so thin that they burst.

I really wish I could have known Augusta Broberg....I certainly would love to trade patterns and ask her some questions about her life.

My apologies for not having written much lately...Casa Quintana has been a least for me.

1 comment:

Shady Character said...

It's wonderful that you not only have this heirloom but know it's history and understand so much about it.