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Textile (Italy)

This is a Textile. It is dated possibly 13th century and we acquired it in 1902. Its medium is silk, metallic and its technique is supplementary warp pile (velvet) in plain weave foundation, with continuous supplementary weft patterning. It is a part of the Textiles department.

This opulent velvet with a pattern of offset gold disks was most likely imported to Europe from a production center along the Silk Road like Tabriz, a city in Persia used as a capital by Mongol rulers. Chinggis Khan often spared artisans such as weavers during his conquest of Persia, relocating them closer to the Mongol homeland. When he reopened trade along the Silk Road in 1240, fine silks, often called Tartar silks, began pouring into Europe. They were used in garments and furniture, and were prized by aristocratic Mongols and Europeans alike because they proclaimed the affluence of the owner and acted as stores of wealth. A pattern similar to this one, with gold disks on a red ground, appears on the cope of St. Louis Toulouse in a 1317 painting by Simone Martini at the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Velvet with Gold Disks.

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

  • Panel (Italy)
  • silk, linen, wool, and metallic yarns.
  • Gift of John Pierpont Morgan.
  • 1902-1-833-a/j
  • Textile (Italy)
  • foundation warp and weft: cotton; pile warp: silk.
  • Bequest of Erskine Hewitt.
  • 1938-57-1226-a

Our curators have highlighted 9 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Sidewall, Pieces of Eight
  • machine printed on paper.
  • Gift of the Appleman Family in memory of Betty and Ira Appleman.
  • 1997-4-1

Its dimensions are

H x W: 53 × 26 cm (20 7/8 × 10 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile (Italy); silk, metallic; H x W: 53 × 26 cm (20 7/8 × 10 1/4 in.); Gift of John Pierpont Morgan; 1902-1-385

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

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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 (Italy) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=27 January 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>