Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chiara Vigo, Master of Sea Silk

I told you a little about Byssus, called Sea Silk in this post last year, a fibre made from the Pinna Noblis now only found in Sant'Antioco, Sardinia.

Last May I went to visit the Museo del Bisso [Byssus Museum] in Sant'Antioco and met Chiara Vigo, the last master of this ancient art.

The Byssus Museum where you can find Chiara Vigo in Viale Regina Margherita, 111, Sant'Antioco, Sardinia.

This video series explores the Holy Veil of Manoppello found at the Basilica del Volto Santo di Manoppello [Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello] in the province of Pescara, Italy. The second part of the series talks about Chiara Vigo and Byssus thread. Signora Vigo travelled to Manoppello to determine that the Veil was made of Byssus.

Inside the Byssus Museum in Sant'Antioco are several areas where you can look at Byssus in it's various forms. There are displays of the Pinna Noblis, raw Byssus as it looks when first collected, the hand-spun thread, embroideries made with Byssus thread and weaving frames with fabric being woven which has Byssus designs.

When enough people have entered the one-room Museum, Signora Vigo explains the history and the technique of collecting, processing and using the Byssus threads. This is not a commercial enterprise by any means and there is nothing to purchase.

The Signora however does not keep the thread from you, she hands out raw, spun and treated thread (it must be dipped in a secret liquid of ancient formula to give it a silky soft texture) for you to touch and examine. Embroideries and woven pieces are also offered for examination.

Our group had people from many far away places and she gave each of us who were from other countries a length of Byssus thread and instructed us to tell people and especially children about Byssus. She promised me that if I could get a group of children to write to her from Canada, she would produce an embroidery in Byssus thread for them. The walls of the Museum are covered in letters from children around the world.

Unfortunately, you cannot see the sparkle that this thread has from this scan. It sparkles like gold and changes colour depending on the direction of the light. It is so very soft and makes you understand instantly why it is called Sea Silk.

Photo by Roberto Rossi.

Go to Roberto Rossi's website to see more great photos of Chiara Vigo, Byssus and the Museum or go to Chiara Vigo's blog to learn more.

1 comment:

  1. Un caro saluto dall'Italia.
    Commendatore Chiara Vigo
    Maestro di Bisso marino