From the long Genoese tradition come the mezzeri, or mezzari, beautiful bedspread whose long history has transformed them from headscarves to fine household linen, used to cover beds or sofas, or to be simply displayed in the home.
From the Middle Ages to the present day
Mezzero, or mezzaro, refers to a large square of linen or cotton cloth typical of Ligurian tradition. It originated from a combination of the simple headscarves used by European women and the more complex and ornate ones used in the East.
Spice merchants were the first to import beautiful headscarves with vibrant colors and designs from the east, lighter than those embroidered in Europe and therefore less expensive. Then nobles commissioned the East India Company to import them.
There are many accounts of aristocratic men and women who had among their possessions these splendid fabrics: Casanova recounts in his memoirs that he acquired one; Gomez Soarez de Figueroa, ambassador to Charles V, also owned some; and they are also found among the possessions of Leonardo Cattaneo, Doge of the Italian Republic in the 1500s.
It is with the subsequent spread among the people in the 1600s that the term mezzero was born, as a mispronunciation of the Arabic mizar (to cover).
For over a century the aristocracy used the mezzero as a symbol of power and wealth, as cloaks for men and headscarves for women. Until the late 1700s, when it fell into disuse among the nobility, but remained a fundamental part of the common people's tradition.
The mezzero can be made from a variety of materials, but the most common are cotton and linen, chosen for their durability suitable for retaining the colors used for decorations
Initially, decorative mezzeri were imported from the East and were decorated using carved pear stencils dipped in ink. As them spread to Liguria, several artisan spinning mills and printers were opened, who then exported their products throughout Europe.
In India the most depicted subject is the Tree of Life, from which later realizations were inspired and which still forms the basis of many decorations today. European artisans were inspired by Indian subjects and adapted them to Western taste; the most common subjects are those referring to nature, such as the chestnut tree or roses, and to the animal world, such as monkeys or rabbits. In the modern era, classical decorations are revisited and others are added with glimpses of cities and geometric patterns.
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