Altar Cloth or Podea

Date: late 14th century

Geography: Made in probably Greece or Constantinople

Culture: Byzantine

Medium: Silk, embroidery

Dimensions: Overall: 58 1/2 x 51 1/8 in. (148.6 x 129.9 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Embroidered

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1912

Accession Number: 12.104.1

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 303
The double-headed eagle became the primary symbol of the state during the late Byzantine centuries and was also adopted for liturgical use. This huge eagle was probably used as an altar cloth or as a podea, a skirt hung beneath an icon. The inscription, which connects the owner with distinguished imperial dynasties, exaggerated the claims of a pretender to the patriarchal throne.
Inscription: Inscribed in Greek: (on the central medallion around the edges)
Paul Patriarch of Constantinople and New Rome; (in the center, three monograms from left to right) Doukas, Patriarch, Palaiologos, and a B [for basileus]
Michel Boy, Paris and Versailles (sold 1905); his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris (May 15-24, 1905, no. 945); [ Bacri Frères, Paris and New York (sold 1912)]
Molinier, Émile, ed. Catalogue des Objets d'Art et de Haute Curiosité du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance: Composant la Collection de feu M. Boy. Paris: Galerie Georges Petit, May 15–24, 1905. no. 945, p. 151.

Dean, Bashford. Notes on Arms and Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1916. pp. 98–99, pp. 98–99, ill.

Evans, Helen C., ed. Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557). New York, New Haven, and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004. no. 298, p. 495.

Ball, Jennifer. "A Double-Headed Eagle Embroidery: From Battlefield to Altar." Metropolitan Museum Journal 41 (2006). pp. 10, 59-64, fig. 1, 2, pl. 3.

Colburn, Kathrin. "A Double-Headed Eagle Embroidery: Analysis and Conservation." Metropolitan Museum Journal 41 (2006). pp. 10, 65-73, fig. 1-7, pl. 3.