Maculate Conceptions

Maculate Conceptions

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Maculate Conceptions

Connor, Steven

Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, Vol.1 (2003)


What do spots mean? I want in what follows to consider the signification of and affective response to different kinds of spots, dots, blotches and patches, in a number of different areas of social and cultural history in Western Europe. I will try to account for why it is so odd or difficult to clothe or surround oneself with patterns of spots in clothing, fabric and furnishings, approaching this analysis through reflections of the idiom and appearance of the spotted in nature, religion, story and technology.

The ways of seeing, feeling and reading that I convene here are given encouragement and example by Michel Pastroureau’s investigations of motifs of colour and design, especially in his remarkable meditation of the cultural history of stripes. In The Devil’s Cloth, Pastoureau has traced the evolution of the stripe in clothing, flags and other fabrics and related it to attitudes towards the stripe in nature.

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