Tapestry Fragment (Spain), 13th century
Medium: silk, metallic (gilded parchment wound around silk core) Technique: plain weave with discontinuous wefts (slit tapestry), with eccentric wefts Label: silk and metallic slit tapestry. Gift of John Pierpont Morgan. 1902-1-82
What is this?
Fragment of woven silk containing one full and most of a second roundel, surrounded by interlaced bands forming star and rosette motifs. In the upper roundel, two confronted figures toast each other with cups raised; in the lower roundel the figure on the right raises a cup and the other figure a long-necked bottle. In dark blue, green, orange-red, and white on a gold metallic ground.
Why is this important?
The figure pairs featured in this fragment are commonly called “cup bearers.” Seated in the same pose, but with clothing and drinking vessels of different colors, they raise their cups with one hand and point to each other with the other. Similar designs appear on Islamic textiles and carved ivories of this period. A 13th century cope of San Valero (1938-78-1) is one example. This type of decoration may have originated in the geometric decoration often found in Islamic architecture. Some of the complex mosaics at Alhambra, the palace of the Sultan of Granada, utilize the same patterns as this textile.
This object has been included in the following exhibitions: