German (Upper Rhineland; Basel)
Linen warp with wool weft
28 1/4 x 33 in. (73 x 85.1 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1990 (1990.211)
This fragment of a weaving, or Rücklakena tapestry hung in a domestic interior at frieze levelrepresents a fabulous composite beast, part horse and part lion, wearing a collar ornamented with small bells that is attached to a leash held by a hand, visible at the left, which is now all that remains of a missing figure. The inscriptions accompanying these creatures on many hangings indicate that they were valued as better company than corrupt townsfolk, and that they symbolize both concupiscence and the unsullied forces of nature. That the creatures are tethered or otherwise subdued suggests that the figures shown with them likewise have tamed their libidinous cravings.