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Textile (Spain)

This is a Textile. It is dated 15th century and we acquired it in 1902. Its medium is silk, metallic (gilded parchment wound around linen core) and its technique is two interconnected structures: 4&1 satin and weft faced plain weave (lampas). It is a part of the Textiles department.

This Spanish textile features confronted leopards or cheetahs within a geometric framework, an enduring motif that probably originated in early Islamic Egypt or Persia. Woven in the 15th century by Islamic weavers, this silk lampas may have been produced in Almería, a center of silk production in Andalucía and a source of blue and gold textiles with similar motifs. Although it is unclear whether the spotted cats are leopards or cheetahs, elongated spots below their eyes suggest the “tear lines” below a cheetah’s eyes. The collars on the animals may refer to the tradition of Persian kings using leashed cheetahs as hunting animals, a practice that Frederick II (1194-1250), the Holy Roman Emperor, brought to Europe. The pose of the cats recalls heraldry, the art of creating emblems for aristocratic houses, sometimes found on period garments.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Cheetah Tears.

This object was donated by John Pierpont Morgan. It is credited Gift of John Pierpont Morgan.

  • Cap (Egypt)
  • untwisted silk, gilded parchment; z-spun linen lining.
  • Museum purchase through gift of Anonymous Donor.
  • 1949-64-7
  • Fragment (Spain)
  • silk, metallic yarns (gilded parchment wound around linen core).
  • Gift of John Pierpont Morgan.
  • 1902-1-311
  • Fragment (Spain)
  • silk, metal wrapped around linen core.
  • Gift of John Pierpont Morgan.
  • 1902-1-253-a,b

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Its dimensions are

Warp x Weft: 42.5 x 33 cm (16 3/4 x 13 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile (Spain); silk, metallic (gilded parchment wound around linen core); Warp x Weft: 42.5 x 33 cm (16 3/4 x 13 in.); Gift of John Pierpont Morgan; 1902-1-251

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Textile (Spain) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=23 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>