Elsy Menko – M

M for Mandrake

The mandrake (official name: mandragora officinarum) is a plant of the nightshade family that is common in many parts of the Mediterranean. I was thrilled to see it for the very first time last February when touring the north of Israel. It has very large dark green patterned leaves and purple flowers and grows low to the ground. The root contains hallucinogenic and narcotic alkaloids and is used to remedy a host of different ailments. Aiding desire and fertifility is also ascribed to it. The root resembles a human figure and in the past was made into amulets for luck and warding off sickness.

The plant is mentioned in the bible. Reuven went into the fields and brought mandrakes to his mother Leah. Rachel (barren at the time) pleaded with her to give her some so that she may conceive (Gen. 30:14). In the Song of Songs it is mentioned in verse 7:14, “the air is filled with the scent of mandrakes”. In the Hebrew bible the name is dudaiem and in translations the word is often left unchanged, in Dutch it is called alruinen. In one of the Harry Potter films there is an unforgettable scene of “repotting mandrakes” which really drives home the notion that the root resembles a human figure.

The quilt is made of commercial and some dyed fabrics, fused with free motion embroidery. On the left side I have stitched the Hebrew letter M (מ).

Detail view:

  1. Love the citations about the plant somehow gives it a role of importance… I also like the way that you have interpreted the coastal setting for your beautifully stitched flowers.

  2. A great design and the Hebrew letter merges into the background what a great idea. Well done.

  3. Beautifully excecuted ! you have done a great work with your flowers and I like how their size shows how pawerful they can be ! really interesting piece.

  4. The first thing that came to mind when I saw Mandrake was the scene from Harry Potter and the screeching of the mandrakes, haha. Love the perspective and the tight quilting showcasing the beautiful flowers. Well done!

  5. Now we have to add your piece to the many benefits of mandragora – beautiful depiction of this famous plant!

  6. A lovely Mediterranean atmosphere with the Mandrake flowers as a beautiful centerpiece.
    Great addition to your series. Bravo.

  7. Beautiful execution of a beautful flower. Your stitching is well done and the quilt has an interesting background. I like the way that you have incorporated the Hebrew letter symbol as part of the design. Well done

  8. This is so nice, your work is stunning. I appreciate the backstory and history of the plant. The composition and use of color is exciting to see.

  9. studiociboulette

    I love the atmosphere you gave to the back ground. Beautiful composition, stitching and colors. Bravo!

  10. Love your story about the mandrake and the historical background of it. You did a great job making this piece, the mountain, sea and the plant are all together is a good composition. the fabric of the soil is so well chosen, lovely piece!

  11. I love this! The colours are great and the flowers themselves are beautiful. I know more about mandrakes now and will hope to see some up close one day.

  12. Such a beautiful quilt with an interesting story behind it. Perfectly designed and executed. Is the background what you see from your terrace? I remember once you posted a photo…

  13. Your background is beautiful and the flowers are so lovely. A great composition.

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