Floral Motifs on Early Chintz
Opuntia sp. - Prickly Pear
Opuntia cochenillifera (Prickly Pear) Public Domain image from the Torner Collection of Sessé and Mociño Biological Illustrations, courtesy of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa. While not necessarily the plant illustrated on the textile, this plant was selected as an example because it is the host species for cochineal insects.  They are the source of cochineal dye, a very important dye for early textile manufacturers.
Opuntia compressa (Prickly Pear) showing the typical Opuntia  flower form.
Opuntia sp. (Prickly Pear) from the Musée d'impression sur étoffes, 19th century fabric sample with birds, corals, shells, and flowers, manufactured by Thierry-Mieg & Cie, Mulhouse, France 1862.
Common Names: Prickly Pear, Prickly Pear Cactus, Pear Cactus
Description: Opuntia sp. (Prickly Pear) is a member of the Cactaceae (Cactus) family. The Hortus Kewensis, ed. 2, Vol. 3 recorded this native of Peru was first cultivated in Europe in 1690. Curtis's Botanical Magazine, Vol. 1, plate 17 recorded it as a native of South America and the West Indies. Note that the flower on the textile design above is more similar to that of an Orchid Cactus than of that of a Prickly Pear though the plant is clearly a Prickly Pear.  Textile designers did not always have botanical training and sometimes took artistic license when creating their designs.

Quilts with this Opuntia sp. (Prickly Pear) motif: 
  • None known at this time
Cretonne with this Opuntia sp. (Prickly Pear) motif: 
  • Musée d'impression sur étoffes, 19th century fabric sample with birds, corals, shells, and flowers, manufactured by Thierry-Mieg & Cie, Mulhouse, France, 1862

Victoria and Albert Museum, Furnishing Fabric Paul et Virginie, 1802 (made)
Toile with this Opuntia sp. (Prickly Pear) motif: 
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Furnishing Fabric Paul et Virginie, Object Number T.27-1967, 1802 (made)
  • Musée de la Toile de Jouy, curtain of roller print on cotton Paul et Virginie, Inv. 982.22a, c. 1802
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, Paul and Virginie, Object Number 1937-11-77a, 1802

                                                           More Opuntia sp. (Prickly Pear) Motifs
                                                                 ( No pictures available at this time)

Textile Design Pattern with an Opuntia sp. (Prickly Pear) motif: 
  • Design Register at the National Archives in Kew- London, Cactus Design, BT 43 191 7255d, Wearable Prints, 1760-1860: History, Materials, and Mechanics, p.456, 1843.

    ©  Updated 1/14/2024     Author: Terry Terrell