Aleks Byrd Designs


Heritage Messages

Looking at tradition also brings up the word "heritage", both having ties to a culture and place. Reading Riina Tomberg's book Vatt, Troi, Vamsa- Knitted Jackets from Western-Estonian Islands brought forward the concept of "heritage message" and its transient quality in the spreading cultural information from generation to generation as well as beyond the local location of a culture.  Tomberg sub divides "heritage message" into three groups that relate to the context or environment and then to group and/or individual.    

The conditions around heritage message can be divided into three groups the first of which contains social and cultural heritage environment, the second involves the person as a bearer of the heritage and third covers the factors embracing the meaning heritage...The conditions of the first group form the social context and functions of a tradition. The factors of the second group influence heritage message through the bearer. The continuation of the heritage message depends on the meaning of the message. (pp. 167) 

It is interesting to see how the factors of influence vary from group to group particularly how the meaning is influenced by the bearer. The concept of the bearer is interesting as the bearer of the motifs, the visual representation of a "heritage message" would be the influencer when arriving wearing a knitted garment. This relates to the idea and "folk stories" recorded by Starmore (Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting) and McGregor (Traditional Fair Isle Knitting) of Shetlanders being influenced by garments brought over from sailors as trade and trying to copy them to add to their knitting pattern vernacular. It also ties into the idea presented in reading Lucy R Lippard's The Lure of the Local about elements like motifs being like ingredients that influence as well as undergo changes in mixing with another culture to become a hybrid (Lippard pp. 6). 

The idea that, "The continuation of the heritage message depends on the meaning of the message." (Tomberg pp 167) is striking because it echoes that for a motif like the eight point star to have such wide use and popularity over the region it is a motif/ symbol that resonates with many people and cultures, and still resonates today. This could be a sign of a "collective heritage".


Lippard, L.R., (1997). The lure of the local : senses of place in a multicentered society. New York : New Press, c1997.

Tomberg, R. (2013) Vatt, Troi, Vamsa- Knitted Jackets from West-Estonian Islands. Tallinn, Estonia: Eesti Kunstiakadeemia.