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  • Place of origin:

    Italy (probably, made)

  • Date:

    15th century to 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woven linen and cotton

  • Credit Line:

    Given by W.B. Chamberlin Esq. through Art Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The name usually given in English to textiles like these is 'Perugia towels', deriving from tovaglie perugine. Tovaglia is usually translated as tablecloth, and tovagliolo as napkin, but their use was in both ecclesiastical and secular contexts. Their function included napkin and table cover, as well as altar cloth and sacristy hand towel. They were woven in mixed twill, ofter diaper, with white linen warp and weft, and had the characteristic feature of bands of pattern created with a supplementary weft of cotton, almost always dyed blue with indigo or woad, though occasionally in red or brown.
An inventory of 1482 describes two napkins being '...in the style of Perugia' (banbagia a la perugina)so the association of such blue-banded textiles with this region may date back to at least the 15th century.

Physical description

Towards each end of the towel are 3 blue bands woven with blue cotton supplementary wefts; they vary in width and are each bordered with double blue stripes.They depict :
1. continuous vine stem with parrots (twice)
2. griffins affronted holding swords, between tall flowering plants (twice)
3. hounds pursuing hares (once)
4. castles with parrots and another creature looking like a lamb (once)
The linen ground is a small lozenge diaper weave.
The ends of the towel are unfinished. The blue colour is very washed out, and the towel is extensively patched and darned, including patches from other similar towels.

Place of Origin

Italy (probably, made)


15th century to 16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Woven linen and cotton


Length: 185 cm, Width: 55 cm

Object history note

The towel came to the museum with a mixed group of other textiles from W B Chamberlin. There is no further provenance for it.

Historical context note

Griffin is emblem of Perugia

Descriptive line

Towel, natural linen with patterned bands of blue, Italian, 15th - 16th century

Production Note

These textiles are usually attributed to Perugia.


Linen; Cotton



Subjects depicted

Castles; Hares; Parrots; Swords; Lozenges; Griffins; Hounds




Textiles and Fashion Collection

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