oa South African Journal of Cultural History - Die tweekleurige stermotief op Europese en Kaapse meubels

Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3053



The popular black and white star inlay motif was popular on town furniture at the Cape in the 18th and 19th centuries. The oldest furniture ornamented with the two-colour star dates from late 16th century England, from where the motif spread to western and central Europe, reaching the USA and the Cape in the 18th century. The twocolour star was, however, much more popular in the country districts, where the first examples were encountered in Schleswig towards the end of the 17th century. In the 18th and 19th centuries the two-colour star appears most frequently in the north-western German regions of Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalen, followed by the province of Lorraine in the east of France. This particular star displays differences in various periods and regions. The twocolour star was probably the most popular inlay motif ever at the Cape. The form and variants of Cape stars correspond largely with those found on European furniture, although a few differences do occur. A variation favoured at the Cape is a star of which the points are further subdivided along the width into smaller black and white sections. Decorative framing such as banding or fan inlay on the comers was mostly applied to rural furniture. As in Europe, Cape furniture-makers applied the star mainly to storage furniture, notably on the cameos of the X-stretchers of cabinets and Bible desks. Stars applied as panel decorations were preferred in the country districts. Country furniture also displays a wider variety of furniture decorated with the motif, e.g. wagon boxes, built-in cupboards, a chest of drawers, a wash-stand and a settee. Available information presents an incomplete distribution pattern, e.g. the absence of the star ornament on Dutch furniture after the Queen Anne period, on early German furniture (excepting in rural areas), on French furniture (excepting in Lorraine) and on Belgian furniture. It is argued that the two-colour star probably reached the Cape via Germany, a strong centre of influence on our folk art and from where many Cape craftsmen originated. Recent research has indicated terminology such as ""two-colour"" and ""multi-coloured"" star as well as ""windrose"" (syn. compass rose) for the motif, which has otherwise always been described as a star. Evidence suggests that the users of the motif regarded it as nothing more than a variation of a star. It is therefore recommended that the name ""star"" be retained, and a ""two-colour star"" when distinguished from other variants of the ornament.

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