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Textile Fragment

Object Name:
Fragment
Date:
13th century
Geography:
Spain
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Silk, gilt animal substrate around a silk core; lampas
Dimensions:
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)
Classification:
Textiles-Woven
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1928
Accession Number:
28.194
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 (author) in [Ekhtiar et al. 2011]
[ 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).

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).



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