Silk, gilt animal substrate around a silk core; lampas
Textile: H. 4 1/16 in. (10.3 cm)
W. 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm)
Mount: H. 7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm)
W. 7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm)
D. 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1928
Not on view
The main decorative elements of this silk fragment are a row of large roundels enclosing two seated female musicians. Dressed in robes of patterned design, the figures are depicted playing tambourines. The lamp hanging between the figures suggests a luxurious interior setting. These large roundels are interlaced with a row of smaller ones containing stars. A rich shimmering effect is produced by the juxtaposition of the vivid reds and the lavish gold brocading. Silk textiles produced in Muslim royal workshops (tiraz) were found in Christian lands in medieval Iberia, whether created for Christian patrons or cut and refashioned entirely for new uses, such as ecclesiastic vestments or church furnishings. This fragment along with 14 others belonged originally to the same textile, and were discovered between the pages of a 13th century manuscript in the cathedral of Vich in Spain.
Esteemed for their expensive materials, refined design, and craftsmanship, luxury textiles manufactured in al-Andalus were admired and coveted by rulers, nobles, and ecclesiastics alike. They were considered among the most valuable commodities in the medieval economy, were collected in royal treasuries, and often served as ambassadorial gifts. In addition, elaborate, if somewhat less opulent, textiles appeared in more modest settings, for example, as part of a bridal trousseau or as valued items in a family inheritance. Silk textiles produced in Muslim royal workshops (tiraz) were found in Christian lands in medieval Iberia, whether created for Christian patrons or cut and refashioned for entirely new uses. By one means or another, these textiles were often employed in ecclesiastic vestments or church furnishings, such as altar cloths and reliquary linings. As a result, many examples have been preserved in church treasuries.
This silk fragment embellished with gold brocade is decorated with a row of large roundels enclosing two seated female musicians. Dressed in robes of patterned design, the figures are depicted playing tambourines. The lamp hanging between the figures suggests a luxurious interior setting. These roundels are interlaced with a row of smaller ones containing stars. A rich, shimmering effect is produced by the juxtaposition of the vivid reds and the lavish gold brocading. The circular shapes of the roundels and the gold brocade used for the interlace and stars are characteristic of the luxury silks of the thirteenth century. This fragment along with fourteen others (some cut in a circular shape to fit under the metal bosses of choir books) belonged originally to the same textile. The fragments were discovered between the pages of a thirteenth-century manuscript in the cathedral of Vich in Spain.
Olga Bush in [Ekhtiar, Soucek, Canby, and Haidar 2011]
1. Maria Judith Feliciano provided a cogent argument for an aesthetic shared by Muslim and Christian elites in medieval Iberia and so proposed the designation "Andalusi" in place of the prior scholarly practice of ascribing a given textile to a particular ruling Muslim dynasty. The new designation allowed her to take into account a more complex—and a more convincing—view of medieval Iberian society. See Feliciano, Maria Judith. Muslim Shrouds for Christian Kings?: A Reassessment of Andalusi Textiles in Thirteenth-Century Castilian Life and Ritual." In Robinson, Cynthia, and Leyla Rouhi, eds. Under the Influence: Questioning the Comparative in Medieval Castile. The Medieval and Early Modern Iberian World, 22. Leiden, 2005, pp. 101–31..
2. Sustained research on this topic was first conducted and published in May 1957.
3. May examined fragments with similar designs, which she dated to the fourteenth century; see ibid., pp. 134–41.
4. Cristina Partearroyo Lacaba in Madrid 2005. Vestiduras ricas: El Monasterio de las Huelgas y su época, 1170–1340. Exhibition, Palacio Real de Madrid. Catalogue by Rafael Lopez Guzman, Antonio Vallejo Triano, and others. Madrid 2005, p. 248.
5. May 1957, p. 139. Most of these fragments are now in the Archivo Episcopal of the cathedral of Vich; see Partearroyo Lacaba in Madrid 2005, p. 249. For technical analysis of the weaving structure of the fragment preserved in the Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid, see Borrego Diaz, Pilar. "Analisis tecnico del ligamento en los tejidos hispanoarabes." Bienes culturales, no. 5 [Tejidos hispanomusulmanes] (2005), pp. 107–8.
[ Herman A. Elsberg, New York, until 1928; sold to MMA]
Breck, Joseph. "A Hispano-Moresque Textile Fragment." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, old series, vol. 24, no. 10 (October 1929). pp. 253-254, ill. pp. 253 (b/w).
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 275, ill. fig. 183 (b/w).
May, Florence Lewis. "Eighth to Fifteenth Century." In Silk Textiles of Spain. Peninsular series: Hispanic Notes & Monographs; Essays, Studies, and Brief Biographies Issued by the Hispanic Society of America. New York: Hispanic Society of America, 1957.
Drake Boehm, Barbara, and Melanie Holcomb, ed. Jerusalem, 1000–1400: Every People under Heaven. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. no. 53, pp. 107-08, ill. fig. 53.
Otavsky, Karel, and Muhammad abbas Muhammad Salim. "Aegypten, Persien und Mesopotamien, Spanien und Nordafrika." In Mittelalterliche Textillien I. Die Textilsammlung der Abegg-Stiftung, Vol. I. Riggisberg: Abegg-Stiftung, 1995. no. 107, pp. 194-195, ill. p. 194 (color).
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 47, p. 80, ill. p. 80 (color).