Share your favorites on Show & Tell

HELP! Can anyone Identify these portraits and the "thread" used?

In Rugs and Textiles > Embroidery > Show & Tell and Folk Art > Show & Tell.
Rugs and Textiles562 of 727HELP! Anyone who knows the origin of 2 portraits that go to these frames (3 listings )HELP! Trying to identify the type "thread" used in making these....
Love it
Like it

AmberRoseAmberRose loves this.
miKKoChristmas11miKKoChristmas11 loves this.
ManikinManikin loves this.
inkyinky loves this.
See 2 more
Add to collection

Please create an account, or Log in here

If you don't have an account, create one here.

Create a Show & TellReport as inappropriate

Posted 5 years ago


(4 items)

Hi everyone, I am hoping somebody can help with determining the origin of these two portraits. I am creating three listings here due to the photo limits. One for the female, one for the male (back view photo is the female portrait) and one for the frames because I think the frames will be helpful in determining the time period the portraits were made. I obtained these in central California from a rather desperate person who inherited and there were alot of antiques all of which were being sold cheap. I immediately noticed that they were stitched using something other than embroidery thread. They were in the frames one with oval glass and the other no glass. They both have what I believe is glue residue on them as you'll see in the photos. I am pretty certain the frames are original to them because they are a perfect fit to the frames. Curious to identify the thread I took them around to several antique shops got no answers but alot of offers to buy. The thread appears to be hair, not horse hair, it is very soft and silky, and the background "hair" has the variations of color you see on a person with brown/auburn hair coloring. A few years ago someone suggested to me that these were Death Portraits. I was told it was customary to stitch these using the deceased own hair. True or False? I have had no luck verifying this supposed custom but it does fit in with the portraits. I would love to know when these were done and what they were made of and the value as is. I knew this website would be my best chance at getting some answers to questions I've had for 23 years now. Thank you!

Unsolved Mystery

Help us close this case. Add your knowledge below.


  1. Manikin Manikin, 5 years ago
    After looking at this one I does not make sense for them to be mourning pieces . And the dark hark on his background which did look like human hair I wonder after seeing the bald spots . Can you show a photo how hair or floss were sewn to back on the brown color ?
  2. Manikin Manikin, 5 years ago
    The colored area's seem to maybe be a silk thread ?
  3. drummergyrl drummergyrl, 5 years ago
    @Manikin Hi,
    The dark knots you see on the back view are the knots from the dark background "hair". It is actually long strips of "hair" not stitched in but actually layered on and at ends of the plaits seems it was pulled thru back and knotted. If I turn these upside down the "hair" hangs away from the material in a swag. Yes I agree that some of this appears to be a very fine silk thread but actually it all feels the same tot he touch. How about the workmanship on the faces and hands? Perfect in every way on both. I am so curious about these.....thank you for your comments and questions, feel free to join my quest, lol
  4. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 5 years ago
    they're very cool, but it's not a mourning piece. the red roses and demure look say that it's a courtship piece - which were often used simply as decoration. i'd guess from 1900-1920, but i don't see the frame?
  5. drummergyrl drummergyrl, 5 years ago
    @ho2cultcha Hi, A courtship piece sounds so much better, I like it. I'm new here so I don't know if you went to my profile will it show you the items I've posted? I put the frame in the same category as the portraits to keep them together but maybe it got moved? If you still don't see it I will re post it. Thank you! Let me know..
  6. AmberRose AmberRose, 5 years ago
    Okay, I can barely sew on a button so take this with a grain of salt...could it be something like musk ox hair?

Want to post a comment?

Create an account or login in order to post a comment.