I had never seen this broad-leaf pattern (below) on a quilt prior to my find on eBay December 2010.This is a Four-Block quilt.
I am assuming the tan was once green but I can find no real evidence of it. Even where the loose fabric enables me to get under the tan, there is no appearance of the green left.
The fact that the red has worn so unevenly makes me wonder if the red wasn't from two different dye lots. Seems strange that some leaves held-up so well and others did not.
Below is a photo of a Corithn column with two ranks of stylized acanthus leaves. Is that what this leaf is -- an interpretation of the acanthus plant?
Acantha (Greek: Ἀκάνθα, English translation: "thorny") was a minor character in Greek mythology. She was a nymph loved by Apollo, the sun god. In one version of the story, Acantha refused Apollo's advances and scratched his face when he tried to rape her. Apollo then turned her into an acanthus plant. Another version features Acantha as a mortal man who returned Apollo's advances. The matter of Acantha's identity is further confused by the fact that the acanthus plant is not a tree, but a shrub or bush, and therefore is unlikely to have had a nymph associated with it. This may simply indicate that it was perceived to be a tree at the time the myth was created.
The little nine patch checkerboard at the intersections of the four blocks is a nice touch.
Now came the real surprsie. I found another quilt made of this pattern just this week! It has the very same over-all loss of the green coloring to that same creamy tan! They came from opposite coasts of the country. Oh how I wish there was some history of the source of these two pieces! Is it possible the two women knew each other and shared the pattern?
UPDATE: Tim Latimer of Tim Latimer Quilts, etc sent me a link to another Acanthus plant whose leaf looks even more like this quilt's pattern! (Be sure to check out Tim's gorgeous quilting!)