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With its complexly woven design and elaborately varied color scheme, this fragment epitomizes the highest achievements of Byzantine silk production. The skillful rendering of the angel Gabriel and the seated Virgin as well as the attention to the ornamental motifs attest to the weaver’s skill. Such high-end silks were often sent as imperial gifts to neighboring courts. This work is thought to have entered the Vatican soon after its production; it was discovered in the twentieth century wrapped around a relic in a silver casket.

Annunciation, Weft-faced compound twill (samit) in polychrome silk

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