In the early modern period, this little flower was known as a pansy, johnny jump up, three faces under a hood, a pink of my john, or my favorite: Tickle my Fancy. But, most commonly and descriptively, it was called a “heart’s ease.”
This little flower comes in a variety of very vibrant colors and has a non-symmetrical layout with one petal being larger than the others and having a heart shape -- hence the name.
In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote “And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts” which was a play on words because pensee means “thoughts” in French (which is where we get our English word “pensive” meaning thoughtful).
When embroidered in the early modern period, these little flowers were stitched using a variety of techniques (long and short, tent, detached buttonhole) but they usually appear as polychrome and with the “heart” petal being a different color than the other petals to emphasis the heart.
This little heart’s ease is a piece stitched by Erin, using period techniques and embellishments and a part one of our workshops.