Black Gryphon

From: $10.00

Continental Samplers
Linen count: 35 count
Finished size: 11-1/4″X8-3/4″
Rated: Beginning

SKU: samp-214 Category: Tags: ,


On the first Sunday of September the Giostra del Saracino (Joust of the Saracen) takes place in the historic center of the Italian city of Arezzo, in Tuscany. The various contrade (neighborhoods) of the town participate, proudly flying their respective banners as mounted, armored riders attempt to strike the shield of a wooden effigy of a Saracen warrior. The tournament commemorates the town’s fifteenth century triumph over an invasion of Saracen who marched inland to Arezzo from the Adriatic Sea in an attempt to seize the wealthy city. The banners under which the townsfolk compete are beautiful works of art in themselves, and this black gryphon is representative of one particular Aretine neighborhood. We found the original cross stitched grifo nero at the town’s famous antiques market, in a stall specializing in tessuti antici (antique textiles). Perhaps he was stitched to decorate the bodice of a medieval costume worn by a participant in the tournament, or maybe he was going to be fashioned into a purse or saddle ornamentation. In any case his frightening heraldic visage is now emblazoned on a dour, autumn-themed sampler of our design, which can also serve as a mourning sampler. The M shape in the lower left corner is the ancient Germanic symbol for autumn; the cross with forked ends in the lower right corner is an early Christian symbol of hope and everlasting life. The knotted rope border was first published by Niccolo d’Aristotile Zoppino in Venice in 1537 in a work titled Gli universali dei belli recami antichi, e moderni. The Latin verse we have chosen for the sampler translates thusly:

Lament, man
Flee, flee mortality
Why do you love fleeting things?
All are dreams
Death is menacing

The author of the verse is anonymous. It was written in England in the thirteenth century. Stitches used to work the piece are cross and four-sided.

Additional information

Kit Type

Silk Floss, Cotton Floss, Graph Only, Finished Model