A large number of Ottoman silk textiles were destined for export to Europe, where they functioned as secular and religious garments. This chasuble, an ecclesiastical vestment worn by high church officials, is a fine example of the synthesis of Eastern and Western displays of wealth through the donning of silk and gold garments. The design features large-scale palmettes and serrated leaves imbued with tiny pomegranate blossoms, highlighted by gold-wrapped weft threads. The elegant contrast between sky blue and crimson is achieved through the lampas (kemha) technique, which combines two different weave structures to create solid areas of color by floating the unused warp threads on the back of the cloth.
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Geography:Attributed to Turkey
Medium:Silk, metal wrapped thread; lampas (kemha)
Dimensions:Textile: H. 46 in. (116.8 cm) W. 27 1/2 in. (69.9 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1906
The design of the textile used to create this chasuble is a variation on the ogival pattern found on many Turkish silks. One ogival trellis is created by chevron-striped bands that connect large, leafy palmettes with pomegranates at the center. This intersects with another trellis created by serrated saz leaves whose stems are bound by a semicircular motif.
While silks of this kind were made to satisfy fashionable tastes in Turkey, they were also exported abroad. The presence of many similar silk ecclesiastical garments in church treasuries is due in part to policies like those in effect in Venice, where ambassadors were required by law to surrender to the state any items presented to them while serving at foreign courts. Often the robes of honor the ambassador received at the Eastern courts to which they were posted were hopelessly unfashionable at home and so were relinquished without protest. Offered at public auctions, these items, if not sold, were donated to churches, where the textiles were repurposed for vestments.
Unlike an eighteenth-century cope from Safavid Iran (MMA 14.67), this chasuble reveals no traces of the original garment from which it might have been made. Seams on the back and front correspond to the three panels created by the application of gold braid, and in each instance, the pattern has been carefully matched across the seam. The style of the chasuble, with a cross on the back and a V-shaped double orphrey band at the neck, suggests that it was made in Southern Germany or Austria.
Marika Sardar in [Peck 2013]
1. A similar textile serves as the central band on the back of a chasuble in Skokloster Church, Stockholm (see Atasoy, Nurhan, Walter B. Denny, Louise W. Mackie, and Hulya Tezcan. Ipek: The Crescent and the Rose: Imperial Ottoman Silks and Velvets. London: Azimuth Editions, 2001, p. 262).
2. Monnas, Lisa. "Textiles and Diplomacy: Ottoman Silks Entering Venice as Diplomatic Gifts in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries." Conference paper presented at "Luxusgewebe des Orients im westlichen Mittelalter/Oriental Silks in Medieval Europe." Riggisberg, September 29–October 1, 2012. Riggisberger Berichte. Riggisberg: Abegg Stiftung; forthcoming.
3. Johnstone, Pauline. High Fashion in the Church: The Place of Church Vestments in the History of Art from the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century. Leeds: Maney, 2002, pp. 141–46.
J. Pierpont Morgan (American), New York (until 1906; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800," September 9, 2013–January 5, 2014, no. 69.
Catalogue of a Special Exhibition of Textiles. New York, 1915–16. no. 343, p. 82.
"A Thousand Years of Western Vestments." In Raiment for the Lord's Service. Ill.
Peck, Amelia, ed. Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013. no. 69, p. 225, ill. (color).
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