India Lotus Stamp
on Indigo Fabric
(wooden stamp right)
| Quilt Notes: A unique and exceedingly lovely star design, with its off-center symmetry, set into a symmetrical 8-point star. A smaller parallelogram can be appliqued on top of a larger, top or bottom, and then together rotated 8 times to form the star.
POLARIS STAR is illustrated in 849 TRADITIONAL PATTERNS: A PICTORIAL HANDBOOK by Susan Winter Mills (p.9), and also in CARRIE HALL BLOCKS, edited by Bettina Havig (p. 58).
The design dates back to the Ladies Art Company Catalogue in 1895 (see Barbara Brackman's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PIECED QUILT PATTERNS #3766). It is also called DOVE IN A WINDOW, and FLYING BATS (LAC) or FLYING STAR, etc., Nancy Cabot calls it WITCH'S STAR. But the positioning like a compass, and the pointing of the star upward (North) fits this name better than any other. Jinny Beyer's QUILTERS ALBUM (Feathered Stars section, p. 278-2), allows the small secondary parallelograms to merge into the background, by repeating the same color, as illustrated upper right and in the tiling pattern, but the indigo fabric added to the corners here is a variation.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Polaris is a "star of the second magnitude, at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper and almost at the north celestial pole, also called the North Star, or Polar Star." The term "polestar" indicates any guiding light or directive, the same way the North Star acts as a compass for mariners. According to an article on the Pole Star at Wikipedia, it has "historically been used for navigation since Late Antiquity, both to find the direction of north and to determine latitude."
The design itself has a universal appeal, and is highly reminiscent of Lotus Flower abstractions, which in Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism symbolize enlightenment — Certainly unintended, but the fabric-stamp design illustrated left, from India is truly quite similar. Even the tilt of the design in the wooden stamp photo above, pointing to a specific direction, like the block too, is beautifully in synch with finding one's way.
There are a precious few quilt designs that seem to "draw" the outline of the pattern with patched lines: compare with COLONIAL PAVEMENT and HOMESPUN BLOCK, also DIAMOND NET and CITY STREETS.