The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 6 – Our Father which art in heaven

The top ‘header’ part of the Lord’s Prayer panel that I made contains the words ‘Abwoon d’bwashmaya’. In the ‘usual’ English version of the Lord’s Prayer, this is translated as ‘Our Father, which art in heaven’. There are many other ways of reading this, when translated directly from the Aramaic, as Aramaic is such a poetic language. Some versions are:

O Birther! Father-Mother of the cosmos!

O Thou from whom the breath of life flows and is present in all forms of vibration and light.

Radiant One: You shine within us, outside us – even darkness shines – when we remember.

O Thou! The Breathing Life of all, Creator of the Shimmering Sound that touches us.

I used an Islamic cartouche design as the basis for this part of the panel. I wanted it to have the *feel* of a detailed cartouche, but without having the centre part too busy – otherwise, the lettering wouldn’t be readable. I debated whether to apply red fabric ‘triangles’ (well, sort of triangles!) to the corners first, and then embroider on top of them, but I rejected that idea.

In Middle Eastern prayers, it is a tradition that the first word of the prayer encapsulates the whole of the rest of it, and this is the case with the Lord’s Prayer, when read in the Aramaic. Each letter, to Aramaic-speaking people, had a ‘character’ or meaning of its own, so the word ‘Abwoon’ was more like a whole sentence to them, expressing the whole prayer. As the word Abwoon was supposed to represent the prayer as a whole, I wanted to do the equivalent of this through my embroidered representation. So, I decided to take design elements from the rest of the panel, and incorporate them into the cartouche.


I did this by taking the floral elements from the borders around some of the lines further down the panel, and using them to make flowery corners for the cartouche. I used Carolyn Pearce’s style of wound roses from the centre ‘ribbon’ design of the panel, ‘three-red-bead’ flowers from the border of the Nethqadash area, and the spacer bead flowers with blue lazy daisy edges from the ‘Ameyn’ area. I felt that this gave the feeling of representing the other parts of the prayer at the beginning, in the Middle eastern style.


I stitched a long band of herringbone stitch with one strand of Anchor stranded cotton 1006 Red around the inner border of the cartouche, and then edged this with Coats Ophir thread (two strands) couched down with the Guterman thread.


The very outer border was couched with Kreinik #16 braid.


I was very pleased with how this part turned out – it made the whole panel look much more substantial, and using elements from other parts of the same panel started to pull the whole thing together.

So, this is the panel so far (well, just before I added the gold outlining, but it shows how the elements fit together):

Abwoon 3192 post 6


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