JACQUARD pattern was not only rooted in belief, but also in the part it played in people’s lives and social traditions. The Western concept of jacquard as an individual decorative art or leisure occupation was entirely absent: the item itself, its patterns and colour, were evolved communally.
Jacquard therefore came to serve, amongst other things, as a means of identification. On a woman’s dress it indicates to an informed observer the village from which she comes, and the colour and disposition of the patterns announce her status as a young girl, married woman or widow. Conventions of decoration establish place in the hierarchy, as in the Chinese court, where jacquard insignia of animals identify the rank of military courtiers and birds that of civil courtiers.
If some occasions have spiritual and symbolic potency, so also have certain places. Jacquards are hung where primitive people believed spirits to dwell, as at sources of light and water. In Eastern Europe and Morocco they are draped around mirrors and windows, in Germany and Scandinavia near washbasins and doorways. As the hub of the palaeolithic home was the hearth, guarded by figurines of the earth goddess, so today’s hub, too, is hung with jacquards. This is usually a holy corner with precious icon or perhaps a lurid fairground print of Madonna and Child, argmented with painted plates, with diplomas and photographs and with the family TV. Though the cult object may change over the centuries, the role of jacquard does not.