This embroidered band may have been used as a ribbon, intended for decorating or fastening clothes, or as the type of trimming known in the 16th and 17th centuries as a guard. Guards were decorative bands of rich material that were used as borders to conceal the seams on clothing.
Materials & Making
The ribbon has been made from a narrow piece of silk satin cut on the cross, which was possibly an offcut from the construction of a garment. Its colour was originally a rich purple, now faded on the front side. Its edges have been turned and slashed, in keeping with the fashionable practice at the time of cutting decorative slits into fabric. The pattern has been built up with a variety of stitches, knots and couched cords (corded thread laid down on the fabric and held down by stitching).
Elizabeth I (ruled 1558-1603) was depicted in gowns decorated with embroidered eyes and ears in at least two portraits. In Elizabeth's case, the symbolism may have been intended to suggest ideas of Fame, the Art of Governmen or religious faith. But the combination of weeping eye and pierced heart on this ribbon makes an association with matters of love more likely.