Do Bears? Stitch count 297 x 274

Throughout the 17th Century Dutch samplers, particularly those from the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and North Holland, often featured their own very distinctive form of the Tree of Life. The trunk was symbolic of force (the father) and the foliage of abundance (the mother) whilst the whole tree, with its cyclic nature, stood for renewal and immortality. Opposing pairs of birds were almost always perched around the branches as a reminder of the life eternal.

The creatures found in this sampler would also have had their own symbolic meanings at that time. These are:

Bears - strength (male), protection at all costs (female)

Butterflies - joy, pleasure and playfulness

Dogs - fidelity, loyalty and watchfulness

Hares - meekness and timidity

Snails - sloth and idleness

Squirrels - mischief

Stags - longevity, gentleness and pride