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Not currently on display at the V&A

Dress Fabric

14th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

By the later Middle Ages a great variety of silks was available in Europe. Weavers in many Italian cities manufactured silks, while Italian merchants imported silks from Central Asia, Turkestan and Iran, and other silks were received as gifts from the Mongol territories which stretched from China into eastern Europe.

The silk imports were woven with asymmetrical designs featuring lotus flowers on scrolling stems or exotic creatures, such as dragons and phoenixes. The patterns flowed and their colours were often bright and shimmered with gold. They contrasted with the western European symmetrical designs of roundels containing paired animals or with striped or geometric patterns.

This Italian-made silk combines European and Asian motifs. It demonstrates how Italian merchants adapted some of the motifs from imported silks into their own products. Weavers in both Lucca and Venice made silks in this style.


Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Woven silk and metal
Brief description
Dress textile, lampas silk with gold mythical beasts; twill ground; gilt pattern weft; 1300-1399, Italian; green
Physical description
Fragment of green lampas silk with gold mythical beasts and exotic foliage; 2/1 twill ground, pattern formed by a continuous pattern weft of gilt animal substrate filé tied in 1/3 twill. The shape of the piece suggests that at one point it was part of a fiddle-shaped chasuble.
Dimensions
  • At longest point length: 69.5cm
  • At widest point width: 35.5cm
Style
Production
Based on Lisa Monnas's publication of 2008
Subject depicted
Summary
By the later Middle Ages a great variety of silks was available in Europe. Weavers in many Italian cities manufactured silks, while Italian merchants imported silks from Central Asia, Turkestan and Iran, and other silks were received as gifts from the Mongol territories which stretched from China into eastern Europe.

The silk imports were woven with asymmetrical designs featuring lotus flowers on scrolling stems or exotic creatures, such as dragons and phoenixes. The patterns flowed and their colours were often bright and shimmered with gold. They contrasted with the western European symmetrical designs of roundels containing paired animals or with striped or geometric patterns.

This Italian-made silk combines European and Asian motifs. It demonstrates how Italian merchants adapted some of the motifs from imported silks into their own products. Weavers in both Lucca and Venice made silks in this style.
Bibliographic reference
Monnas, Lisa. Merchants, Princes and Painters. Silk Fabrics in Italian and Northern Paintings 1300-1500. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008, p. 14, fig. 13.
Collection
Accession number
1279-1864

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Record createdMay 19, 2009
Record URL
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