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One of the few pieced patterns to come to America from Europe, the Star of Bethlehem is one of the oldest and most beloved of traditional quilt patterns. This stunning pattern is so popular and so dramatic that it is probably the single most well-known pattern among quilters and non-quilters alike.
A large 8-pointed star forming a starburst medallion, in the late 1700s and early 1800s it was normally seen with very elaborate chintz appliques in the setting triangles and corner squares. Over time, these appliques became more simple until eventually the modern variation with its plain background became the norm.
While the name is used for several blocks, it is traditionally, and most accurately, used to refer to the 8-pointed star pattern known as Lone Star, which became an alternate name for it during the mid-1800s when the annexation of Texas was a political issue. It was this version of the Star of Bethlehem that traveled across the Great Plains with quilters on their journey west.
In the cultures of the Plains Indians the Morning Star played an important role. When the Star of Bethlehem pattern was introduced by missionary wives to the women of these tribes, it became a predominant theme in their quiltmaking as well. Endless variations resulted from their interpretations of the pattern.