Have a look at the profound abstraction and Greek symbolism in the Homeric HYMN TO DEMETER — Like this geometric pattern as a bird, or FEATHER STAR, the Greek gods are also personifications of abstractions, LOVE, WAR, PEACE, etc. In the myth, Demeter is the Goddess of PLANT FERTILITY, while her daughter, Persephone, is SPRING. (It has a happy ending.)||
A coverlet for this version of FEATHER STAR (dated ca. 1850), illustrated upper right, derives from
QUILTS: THEIR STORY AND HOW TO MAKE THEM by Marie D. Webster, published 1915, full text available online. In regard to this pattern, the author comments on it for her choice as the archetype of a sort of Yin in pieced quilt designs, whereas JACOB'S LADDER would be more her Yang:
"For those who enjoy making pieced quilts, there is practically no limit to the variety of designs available, some of which are as intricate as the choicest mosaic. The bold and rather heavy design known as 'Jacob's Ladder' is a good example of the pieced quilt. Another is the 'Feathered Star,' whose lightness and delicacy make it a most charming pattern." (p.95)
Again the idea of tiny triangles as feathers accompanies innumerable "feathered " or serrated blocks, including a good range of feathered star designs, but this is the only one in the compendiums with a diamond checkerboard for a center, as well as possibly the oldest, at least back to 1850, assuming the date is correct in Webster's collection (more from Webster at ROMAN STRIPE).
Ancient Greek Pottery Design
Also unique to the pattern is a likeness in this block to an actual bird, including the two eyes at the top in the center above a beak and mouth, and seeming to have outstretched wings with two spindle legs and feet at the bottom.
Every once and a while the artistic soul of a block comes forward and makes itself known.
The idea here seems to be more of a star as a bird of some kind, not just a "feathered" star. Finally, in its construction, and as an abstraction which has become enlivened, FEATHER STAR is strikingly akin to a variation of COLUMBIAN STAR by Maggie Malone. In spirit, both are reminiscent of the playful, ancient Greek geometric abstractions that transform into beings somehow, like the chorus line of diamonds, twirling their batons, illustrated above (ancient Greek amphora, Knossos, Crete). For triangles themselves as symbolic of birds see, BIRDS IN THE AIR.