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Medieval Silke Flowers

You are correct - not all the pictures have been inserted. I do like your suggestions though. I e-mailed the revised copy directly to you. Thanks for your help!

Medieval Silk Flowers

By Jonalee Crabb – known in the SCA as Roxelana Bramante




          Of all the handicrafts known to have existed in the Middle Ages it has always been the creation of artificial flowers that has most grabbed my attention. Pliny reports garlands of artificial flowers, made of very thin sheets of horn, and colored flowers of silk, and even thin gold and silver leaf. Artificial flowers are mentioned in account books and inventories throughout the Middle Ages. Silk flowers are just one type of artificial flower but one I found to be extremely fascinating after I first saw a picture of what Medieval silk flowers actually looked like.


One of the 24 Paradise Gardens from Erstorf.

The cushion is the gray portion on the bottom.


Unlike the silk flowers made today (which for the most part are no longer made with silk) the flowers of long ago were not made by cutting petal shapes from whole cloth and then arranging them around a central wire used for a stem. Flowers today can look so realistic that at a distance it is difficult to tell if they are real or not. In the Middle Ages silk flowers were clearly artificial in nature but they certainly have a beauty of their own. And it would take me several years to figure out exactly how Medieval flowers were created though it was clear from the pictures that there was no woven fabric involved.

          The silk flowers that I have studied were all created between 1480 and 1550. They are all part of reliquaries and reliquary shrines that were popular in the Low Countries (now known as Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands roughly) and Northern Germany at that time. There is no doubt that silk flowers were used in many other locations and other aspects, from headdresses to table decorations, but these shrines appear to contain the only surviving examples of silk flowers from the Middle Ages and so are our sole basis for any information on the actual construction methods used at that time.  

There is not much written on these flowers and most of what I have been able to find has been in reference to the reliquaries rather than the flowers themselves. Even there, they are only covered with any depth in German texts as the shrines do not seem to have been known outside of the Northern German, Belgium, and Netherlands areas.  With the exception of Appuhn’s description of the Paradise Gardens there is no detailed description of the art flowers to be found.


 Who created these historical flowers?


          One of the earliest accounts of the creation of these flowers comes to us from Beissel’s account of medieval wages and labor and refers to the creation of silk flowers found in the Xanten city records[1]:

The men helped supply the women and girls with something to occupy their time. In 1471 and 1472 the men brought a large box, silk threads, wire and gold foil for the women to use. The women trimmed out a relic of the holy in these boxes and decorated them with flowers. In Kalkar not a single one of these flowers of wire, silk and gold remain. In Xanten only insignificant fragments of flowers still exist. They show evidence of great training and taste. The Xanten building records (bills) prove that such flowers found place on the altars throughout the Middle Ages.

When the women and girls from Xanten had their flowers ready they then brought the beautiful ornate Reliquienkästen [relics - bins] to the church, and they would have their payment; because already at that time nothing happened without such reward. The old factory master gave them wine forth from the vine, and laughingly on his health they drank.


These specific flowers were created starting around 1470 in Belgium (for the most part). The German term for the flowers is “Klosterarbeiten” a word that means “convent work” and broadly encompasses all the handicrafts produced in convents. Some forms of Klosterarbeiten, such as bobbin lace, are still practiced and became popular outside of the convent setting – that does not seem to be the case with the flowers as, even today, they are created and used in a way to adorn religious artifacts though they are now created in this style using only metallic threads.

The flowers were created by nuns in convents, but to an even greater extent they were created in cloisters by Beguines.[2] Beguines were much like religious nuns except they did not take vows. They lived in communities and worked, rather than begged, for their support. The Bequines were very popular in the Low Countries. They originally started in the 1200’s.

In the early 13th century the first Beguine communities, known as Beguinages (from Lat. beginagium) were formed around grand mistresses, with a small church and often a hospital, but individual houses for each woman rather than a single large building on the model of a convent. No two communities of Beguines were connected to each other by any rule or mother house. Some beguine communities included only upper class women, some only the poor, but most were women of all classes. Numbers varied in different areas but in Ghent the community had several thousand members. Beguines also spread to France (encouraged by Louis IX), Germany and Switzerland.

The beguines were a religious women's movement. Their success, according to the Belgian historian Henri Pirenne, was due to a surplus of women occasioned by violence, war, military and semi-military operations, which took the lives of many men. Great numbers of women had no option but to unite and collectively secure the aid of rich benefactors. Similarly, nuns' convents in the twelfth century enjoyed substantial initial success. Stricter rules within Cistercian and other abbeys, however, caused many women to seek less strict surroundings. Moreover, these abbeys' initial success necessitated the refusal of a great many applications for admission. As an additional obstacle, in several cases a certain degree of prosperity was required as a condition for admission to a regular nunnery.

To understand the general workings of a Beguine cloister one must know just a bit about the region at the time. Beguine cloisters were popular until the Black Death (which did not affect Belgium nearly as much as the rest of Europe) and the population of Europe dropped dramatically (1347-51). With the blessing of the Pope, Eugenius IV, the Beguine movement experienced a resurgence about a hundred years later in the mid 1400’s. The European population started to rebound in about 1470. Because the Beguine’s did not take vows, they could return to the world and marry if they chose to do so. This made the cloisters of the Beguine a welcome place to women who could not or would not marry, and who did not wish to devote themselves to a lifetime of religious seclusion. So during times of war, when men were scarce or away, women could stay at the cloister and return to the world when their husband returned.

Beguines worked for their keep. The Low Countries were the center (particularly in Ypres and Ghent) of production for the English woolen textile industry, more so after Italy switched its production from wool to silk in the 15th century. Some time later the English started to restrict the export of wool so some of the Beguine communities changed their focus and engaged in the art of lace making and other handicrafts. The creation of silk flowers was just one of many assorted handicrafts these women took part in.

Because so many of the existing flowers are located in Mecheln, or are known to have been created there, it is possible that the flowers emerged from a workshop. The flowers are exactly the same fabrication[3] and give an impression of industrial construction rather than a ‘labor of love’ based on the overall uniformity of the flowers. Certainly the art industry in general was well promoted under the governorship of Margaret of Austria over the Netherlands (1507-30). In addition the city of Mecheln was the artistic center for sculptors, gun and bell castors, and later for the creation of alabaster altars.


What purpose did the flowers serve?


In about the year 1480, the convent in Ebstorf created a series of Paradise Gardens to adorn the wall that separated the choir from the congregation in the convent. These cushions were used by the novices to kneel upon when they took their vows to become nuns and they contained a great number of relics.[4] The flowers that adorned the 24 cushions that lined the wall all came from the city of Mecheln. The cushions were fastened to the wall and topped with a lattice so that the appearance was more of a garden wall and was in many ways suppose to represent the heavenly reward –hence the name Paradise Garden.

The Ebstorf cloister chronicle from the year 1487 describes them, stating: “The relic shrines are arranged like a wall, skillfully and with a graceful lattice with crown [probably canopy]” and was used “therewith the novices, before the cloister community, the Novitiates and the Professed, were then taken and were consecrated as brides to Christ.”[5]

In the neighboring Benedictory convent located in Walsrode stand two shrines, nearly identical to each other. They are neither Paradise Gardens nor “Bestolen Hofjes”. In the shrines stand wood figures of the risen Christ and the unbelieving Thomas, below and on the sides are bushes of art flowers and directly over the garden scene is a checker board of star blossoms and relics encased in copper boxes, 27 of each. The flowers are worked in the same manner as those found in Ebstorf and serve as a reliquary though in this case the relics are not interspersed with the flowers.

The Beguines had a similar type of shrine, for they too needed a focus for their meditative prayers. What better way to meditate in the glories of the afterlife (Paradise) than to stare it in the face? The cabinets, enclosed gardens, called ‘Besloten Hofjes’ in Dutch were the perfect thing to meditate upon. In Mecheln, in the former Beginenhof, stand seven such shrines, in the Beginenhof of Herentals is yet another, as well as one each in the churches of Baelen-Neet, Saint Leonard, and Gheel and in the Lower Rhine in Kalkar.

The identification of the “Besloten Hofjes” with the hortus conclusus, a locked garden, is the symbol of the virginity of the Blessed Mary. The cabinets were meant as a moral demand to guard ones’ virginity and a correlation between the locked garden and the rewards of heaven was apparent.  Almost all of the cabinets follow the same basic construction rules. Each has two doors in order to close the cabinet. These doors are frequently painted with portraits of the donor or some religious figure. The cabinets have the feel of a garden, with a small picket fence up front and a locked gate in the center. There are statues of the divine, the Virgin and prominent saints, and small pieces of parchment on which are written the names of saints and other revered (in a religious sense) persons. And, of course, many different flowers and remains (relics) – usually small pieces of bone but could also be hair, holy fluids, etc.

The flowers were popular from the time of the Catholic reforms of 1470[6] until the Lutheran Reformation (which reached the area in 1528). While the flowers on the Ebstorf cushions are the earliest surviving, the cabinets date from 1490 to roughly 1530, with the majority of them dated to the early years of the 1500's. The art form lived on through the 18th century but never again reached the same level of popularity. For whatever reason though, it is clear that the Church was becoming more accepting of decoration in general and was willing to accept artificial flowers. The Lutheran Reforms, on the other hand, made decoration of any sort unacceptable and so it becomes obvious that dwindling production is directly related to the spread of Lutheranism in the area.


What were the flowers made of?


          By most accounts the flowers were always created with silk and no other fiber. Fine linen is mentioned in one account dating to the 1630’s but in no other case is there evidence of other fibers being substituted for silk.[7] Since the surviving flowers are all a part of church artifacts, and silk was used in abundance when it came to creating altar clothes and other items for the church as it was considered to be the finest material, it is possible that flowers for other uses were created with other fibers but I find it unlikely that it was ever a common practice.

Appuhn describes the Ebstorf gardens thusly:

The element of the art flowers is copper wire in different strengths. Each leaf and each blossom contains a compressed wire loop. It compresses yield two parchment bits apiece, cut, folded outward, and forming the outline of each leaflet. Both halves of the leaf are individually wrapped up with colored silk. Each leaflet has a slit down the middle in the place of the rib. Therefore the halves of the leaves can carry different colors, quartered to appear as a crest. Other round leaves have spiraling loops of turned wire that one freely covered with loose colored silk threads. Here the green color of the wire shows. The handles on which the branches were fastened were left bare and originally were naturally bright. The thick turned silk threads were in the colors light yellow, dark yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, light green, turquoise, and blue. Altogether ten tones in addition to the silver threads at the acorns. In the leaves one can find single coral and between the leaves are small bezants pressed out of silver in the form of book leaflet. The flowers appear to float over a foil of gilded copper.[8]


The colors on the Paradise Gardens were far brighter than those found in the cabinets because the former were very little exposed to light over the years. Some of the relic packets, also of silk, on the gardens were dated as 13th century Spain, later half of the 14th century, 15th century Spain, and 15th century Italy. (The packet coverings imply that the relics were collected from many places and were of different ages.)[9]

An in-depth analysis of the flowers in the cabinets is not yet to be found and for materials and construction descriptions I am at the mercy of the photos I have collected.

The flowers, all of which have specific meanings of their own, most represented include lily, stern roses and narcissus though the colors and leaf shapes are frequently not represented as natural. Among the vast number of flower varieties can also be found strawberries, rosebuds, acorns and oak leaves.


The Process of recreating these flowers


          My first encounter with these flowers came in the form of a picture of the Paradise Gardens[10] that I first saw in 1999 but it wasn’t until three years later that I felt I was up to the challenge of duplicating the flowers based on the pictures alone. Once I started though I was swept up in the adventure.

          I started the process by comparing the pictures of the Gardens to modern versions of artificial flowers. A similar art form, called Ganutel, exists in modern Malta and has a long history but it is visually very different from these flowers despite the fact that the materials used are the same. Modern Klosterarbeiten looks very similar but is created entirely from metal threads, but at the time I could find no instruction as to how they were made.

          What I knew was the flowers were created from wire and thread. This fact was clear from the pictures I had and so that was where I started. I collected together some embroidery floss and wire and tried first bending the wire into a petal shape and wrapping it with the floss. I just couldn’t get the floss to stay on the wire and I was having the added difficulty of trying to keep the wire in the desired shape. Further examination of the photos convinced me to purchase a large quantity of bullion wire (wire that looks like a Slinky). I found if I covered the petal wire with tightly coiled bullion wire I could effectively get the floss to adhere to the wire but I still could not get the petal to hold its shape. From the pictures I could see that each petal had a slit down the middle and each half appeared to be stuffed with cotton batting. After much experimentation I discovered that if I created each half of the petal from a separate wire and then bent them to hinge at the tip of the petal I could get them to hold their shape and stay looking the same way they did as I wrapped the floss around them. I skipped the “cotton batting” since the flowers didn’t really seem to need it. The end result was a flower that looked almost exactly like the ones on the Paradise Gardens.

          Wanting to learn more of these flowers I wrote to the museum in Mecheln to inquire about their collection of these flowers because the written description of the Paradise Gardens said the collection of these art flowers was especially fine in Mecheln. It took better than a month to receive a reply but it was worth the wait! The curator sent me nine separate pictures of one of their shires which they had recently had to open (from behind the glass) for some other purpose – so while they were in there he took some pictures for me.[11]

          In-depth study of these new-found pictures threw all of my previous work right into the trash. Based on the new photos I discovered that my first replicas were entirely too large in comparison to the actual flowers. Attempts to miniaturize my flowers using the same technique were hopeless. I needed to start over from scratch. After questioning the curator further I was unable to determine exactly how large the flowers should be although I was told they were closer to 2-3 centimeters each (which I assumed meant each petal) and they knew nothing what-so-ever of the particulars of the construction.

          At approximately the same time I came across the pictures of the Shrines in Walsrode[12] and Harline’s book which showed a picture of the complete shrine that I had recently received detailed pictures of. Several months later I found pictures of even more shrines on the Belgium historical preservation website (KIK-IRPA) where they also listed the materials used in making the flowers.

          From my museum photos I was better able to determine the construction of the flowers. Not only were these pictures far more detailed than the ones of the Paradise Gardens, they also contained far more flower varieties.

          I choose to start with a flower that was clearly made with bullion, wire and thread. The base of the flower was easy enough to create. The flowers from Malta have a style that is nearly identical and with those instructions I knew to cut a small piece of bullion, run a wire down the center of it, twist into the petal shape and then wrap the threads so that they fell between the grooves in the bullion. The extra decoration, created from what appears to be tightly coiled, fine grade wire, was a bit more of a challenge. Easy enough to figure out that it was coiled wire – the difficult part was attempting to coil the wire so it was smooth and consistent in its finished state.  I discovered that coiling the wire back over itself allowed me to pull the coils tight and did not leave a loose end that could potentially snag on something. Coiling the longer pieces over a slightly heavier wire makes larger coils but if I left the wire in the coils it made the whole length of it stronger and thereby it was easier to get it to hold its shape in the end. I became very adept at coiling wire.


                       My first completed flower compared to the original from the Shrine.


          My next flower choice was more ambitious. I had determined that what I had originally took to be cotton batting was, in fact, vellum. I based this on the materials list from the Belgium shrines. I attempted to use other materials, including vegetable parchment, to no avail. The reason vellum works is simple: Vellum has a “tooth” that allows the thread to cling to it without sliding; it is both stiff and flexible. The stiff aspect works to keep the petal shape with the addition of one piece of wire to model it and the flexible aspect allows a needle to pass through it without tearing, which allows for anchoring the threads on the ends.  The “fineness” of the vellum doesn’t seem to make much of a difference as far as workability – the end result will be thicker with thicker vellum but wrapping the threads is not affected to any great degree.

          I cut each vellum petal in one piece – with the middle edges on one straight line so that when the two halves are folded toward each other they form the complete petal. By leaving the two halves connected by a very thin piece I did not have to deal with the two pieces sliding either toward or away from each other. Looking at the original shrine photos I was fairly convinced that the originals were constructed in this manner though Appuhn claims the halves are separate. If they are in fact separate I suspect it had more to do with the ease of cutting the vellum because it is harder to wrap the pieces when they are separated.

The first of the vellum flowers I constructed – my petals are not as elongated.



          From looking at the photos it was easy to see that many of the petals had a single piece of wire running through the length of the petal. This wire would extend past the end of the petal and be used as part of the assembly process. The petals which have the wire running on the top of the petal have the wire exposed at intervals so that it appears to be a dotted line down the middle of the petal. I attempted to wrap the threads in this manner but was unsuccessful. The wire may have been woven into the flower after wrapping the petal (which was difficult to accomplish) or it was wrapped in separately after the petal itself was wrapped (which did not result in as finished a look but seems to be the most plausible).

          The actual shape of the petal is not an accident. Without the slit in the middle it is incredibly difficult to wrap the petal. For one reason the lack of a straight edge makes it near impossible to keep the threads from sliding in addition to not having a proper starting point and no way to wrap the very tip of the petal, especially on one of the more rounded varieties. Folding the petal (creating it in two halves) also allows the finished flower to have the same type of shading that is seen in the veining of many varieties of leaf. The basic shapes that the vellum is cut into to form the petals are rather simple in nature, taper gently and are for the most part rather straight. Flowers appear to be more complicated because the vellum is bent and twisted into more complex shapes.

Such is the case with the next flower I attempted. The tightly coiled spirals were made with a fine slice of vellum and a bent piece of wire wrapped tightly and then coiled. I originally tried to wrap just a bent piece of wire but had difficulties keeping the threads tight.  The originals may have been created without the vellum, which would certainly account for their scarcity on the shrines, even using the vellum each coil took nearly as long to make as a full petal. This flower also has a metal bead at the tip of each of the petals which I twisted onto the base wire before wrapping the thread around the petal.

The third of the flowers I recreated. I chose to use a softer color for the spirals.



          From this point it seems to be a matter of finding out exactly how the vellum pieces are bent in order to form some of the more intricate flower designs.  Variations like bushes and branches are more a matter of how the piece is assembled rather than a difference in basic shapes.  And it would appear that the larger flowers are created on a ‘backing’ of sorts but I have not yet been able to delve into this area to see if my assertions are correct.




Materials I used to create the flowers


Thread: Most of the articles I've read say silk was used in the original shrines so that is what I'm using. I like Kreinik's Soie d'Alger. It is very much like cotton embroidery floss which is what I used while I was still in the experimental phase because it is far more cost effective. I don't like rayon and the silkier silks - they are too shiny and they tend to slide around making them more difficult to work with. I also don't like the heavier two-ply silks as they are to heavy looking for such small flowers. I separate the silk floss and use a single strand at a time so I would think that using actual thread would work too but I haven't tried that. Harline mentions the use of fine linen (his work concentrates on post 1600 sources) and Appuhn mentions that one of the relics was wrapped in a fabric that was 'light blue silk on a finer blue wool'. No other fibers were named - most refer to the thread only as 'silk'. 

Wire: pre-made bullion can only get you so far - eventually you're going to end up coiling your own wire into bullion just to get it small enough. You'll need a selection of all the smaller wires - I've used everything between 18 and 34 gauge. Somewhere I have a breakdown of wire metal content from medieval artifacts but I'm going to spare you to details and just say: I have found no noticeable difference in how the metal content affects the workability of the wire. Seriously. Coupled with the fact that one can not just look at a piece of wire and know for certain what metals it is comprised of. It is difficult enough to purchase wires today where one knows for certain the composition of the base metals.

According to Appuhn the paradise gardens contained only copper but I have no information on what was used in the shrines other than a reference that “only the finest materials were used” which included “noble metal” which I can only suppose was gold and possibly silver.[13] For making the smaller coils I prefer to use a non-tarnish silver wire in 34 gauge (which is actually sterling silver plated over copper). I have not found pure copper wire in 34 gauge but I suspect that it doesn’t coil as easily as the softer metals, namely gold and silver. With the exception of the miniature coils, the wire is only used as a base support for which a stiffer wire is preferred. Looking closely at the pictures of the Paradise Gardens I was unable to find any of the smaller coils that are in the shrines – another reason to believe the coils are of silver, a softer metal that would, after time, appear blackened as the coils in the shrine do.

          Vellum: I don't know exactly what animal hide was used in the original shrines. I do know that I've tried a number of things, from paper and vegetable parchment to leather scraps. The best stuff is like paper-weight suede. The nice thing is that if you get it wet you can stick a needle through it without any problem and it is less likely to break than paper. The silk doesn't slide too much and it has flexibility. Even better - the pieces you need are tiny - generally I can get two petals out of a piece the size of my pinky finger. Find a scribe who has scraps and get the little pieces they will never use. As an added bonus - it doesn't matter if the piece isn't any good for scribing on or is oily or smudged or warped. You're going to cover the whole thing in silk so no-one is going to see it (and cutting it into tiny pieces helps that too.) Appuhn and Triest both mention the use of parchment but I can't rule out a translation error (as none of the authors actually give a name for the animal the paper is derived from). I have used several different types (vellum, parchment, etc.) and they are pretty much the same. Thickness seems to be the most important factor, something like smoothness is of little importance though a good nap makes it easier to wrap the threads.




While I would like to think that I now have enough knowledge of the silk flowers to faithfully recreate an entire garden full of them, I’m afraid it won’t be possible until after I see the shrines in person (sometime next autumn). I know from past experience that even the best of pictures runs a poor second to seeing the item up close and personal.

The challenge for now is to make the flowers much smaller than I have them currently. They are in proper scale for the shrine I have been studying but there are far smaller shrines with smaller flowers out there and I wish to spend some time working on truly minuscule examples of the art form. In addition I would like to better study the variations in construction that resulted from different workshops and locations. Truly there is a great deal that can be learned about medieval silk flowers as they are represented in the reliquary shires of Belgium.




Terminology for Silk Flowers


Besloten Hofjes – Dutch for ‘enclosed gardens’. Generally, this is the name given to all of the Shrines in this style.


Beguine – Much like a Nun but without having to take vows. There were many distinctive groups of cloistered women in the Middle Ages and nearly as many names for their collective dwelling places.


Hortus Conclusus – Latin for ‘enclosed garden’ and refers to all shrines in this style.


Klosterarbeiten – Cloister work – what the flowers are called now but in period this term could include all handicrafts created within the convent walls.


Kunstblumen – Art Flowers. This term could refer to artificial flowers in any media


Parmente: Liturgical vestments and other cloth decorations such as altar covers.


Paradiesgärtlein – Paradise Gardens – generally only the cushions from Ebstorf are called by this name. Named as such because it is where the novices knelt to take vows to become nuns. Paradise refers to the heavenly reward.


Predella -  the platform or step on which an altar stands. In painting, predella refers to the paintings or sculptures running along the frame at the bottom of an altarpiece. They often consist of narrative scenes, e.g. scenes in the life of a particular saint.


Relics – personal items (such as bone fragments or fluids) associated with a blessed or sainted individual or an extremely holy location or item (like a sliver of the true cross). It was believed that relics served as good-luck charms. Reliquaries and reliquary shrines were decorative places to store and keep the precious relics.

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Bibliography (furture reading list):



Appuhn, Horst - Die Paradiesgärtlein des Klosters Ebstorf / In: Lüneburger Blätter (1968). Pages 27 - 36.


Behling, Lottlisa Die Pflanze in der mittelalterlichen Tafelmalerei Köln 1967 Page 20


Beissel, Stephan Geldwerth und Arbeitslohn im Mittelalter Freiburg im Breisgau 1884


Egan, Geoff & Pritchard, Frances Dress Accessories c1150-c1450 HMSO Publications, London England 1991. Pages 291-296.


Harline, Craig The Burdens of Sister Margaret 1994  Pages 144-149


Legner, Anton Reliquien in Kunst und Kult zwischen Antike und Aufklarung Darmstadt 1995


Legner, Anton Reliquien: Verehrung und Verklärung Köln 1989


Lightbown, Ronald W. Mediaeval European Jewellery  Victoria & Albert Museum, London 1992.


Meckseper, Cord  Stadt im Wandel: Kunst und Kultur des Bürgertums in Norddeutschland 1150-1650, 1985 Pages 476 - 478. 

Meyne, Willi Lüneburger Plastik des XV. Jahrhunderts, Lüneburg 1959 Pages 134-138

Sander, Helga & Peschl, Wolfgang:  Klosterarbeiten; Tradition, Vorbilder, Anleitungen Augsburg 1997  

Schier, Bruno Die Kunstblume von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, Berlin 1957 Page 9


Scholten, Simone - Hortus Conclusus - Eeen vinger aan de Maagdelijkheid / In: Tekst (2001) Pages 23-24


Triest, Monika Het besloten hof Begijnen in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden Leuven 2000


Van Oz, Henk The Art of Devotionin the Late Middle Ages in Europe 1300-1500 Amsterdam 1994


Werner, Friedrich (Text), Förderverein Kloster / Schloss Bentlage e. V. (Hg.): Das Kreuz im Garten des Paradieses, Rheine 1998


Wolfson, Michael Ein Rundgang durch Kloster Ebstorf 2001 Pages 64 - 65.





800 jaar onze - lieve - vrouwegasthuis uit het erfgoed van de Mechelse gasthuiszusters en het OCMW – catalog


Bestandskataloge der weltlichen Ortsstiftungen der Stadt Freiburg i. Br. Band 3: Die Klosterarbeiten - catalog / Bock and Böhler 1999.

Krone und Schleier: Kunst Aus Mittelalterlichen Frauenklöstern - catalog 2005 Pages 428-430  



The cities listed by Meckseper for the location of flowers are: Walsrode, Rheine, Köln, Kalkar, Xanten, and Arras in Germany. Antwerp, Diest, Herentals, Kontich, and Balen-Neet in Belgium. The majority are from Mecheln.


List of extant flowers, location, and date of creation.































Located in Balen









Located in Antwerp









Located in Mecheln




Located in Mecheln




Located in Mecheln




Located in Mecheln




Located in Mecheln




Located in Gheel




Located in Herentals

(unknown) Mecheln



Located in Mecheln




Located in Saint Leonard’s




Located in Mecheln




Glasperle: Imitation einer Perle aus einem gläsernen Hohlkörper, der entweder innen oder außen mit Fischschuppenessenz oder ähnlichem überzogen ist. Die Herstellung entsprechend behandelter Glaskugeln war schon im 16. Jahrhundert bekannt.

[1] Beissel, S.: Geldwert und Arbeitslohn im Mittelalter. Ergänzungsheft zu den “Stimmen aus Maria Laach” XXVII, Freiburg 1884 (in zweiter Auflage unter dem Titel: Die Bauführung des Mittelalters. Studie über die Kirche des hl. Victor zu Xanten, Freiburg 1889)


[2] Triest, Monika Het besloten hof Begijnen in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden Leuven 2000 page 229


[3]  Appuhn asserts they are the same but comparison of the Kalkar flowers to the rest leave some doubt.

[4] 288 of them to be exact according to Appuhn, Horst - Die Paradiesgärtlein des Klosters Ebstorf / In: Lüneburger Blätter (1968). Pages 27-36.

[5] Ibid

[6] The Bursfelder reform movement reorganized the monasteries and allowed for the production of many cult objects and the formation of organized artistic endeavors. See Appuhn, footnote 32.

[7] Harline, page 147

[8] Appuhn , page 28

[9]  Appuhn, footnote number 5

[10] Meckseper, Cord  Stadt im Wandel: Kunst und Kultur des Bürgertums in Norddeutschland 1150-1650, 1985 Pages 476 - 478. 

[11] I am extremely grateful to Wim Hüsken, the curator who responded to my plea in June, 2005.  Stedelijke Musea Mechelen, Belgium, Museum Schepenhuis

[12] Bildex.de

[13] Schier, Bruno Die Kunstblume von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, Berlin 1957 Page 9