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Fragment (Spain)

This is a Fragment. It is dated 11th–12th century and we acquired it in 1902. Its medium is silk and its technique is compound twill (samite). It is a part of the Textiles department.

This Spanish silk, decorated with exotic and imaginary animals in pearled roundels, was most likely woven by Islamic craftspeople in 11th or 12th-century Spain. The roundels are bilaterally symmetrical and depict, from the top down, elephants, senmurvs (composite creatures with dog heads, lion paws, peacock tails, and wings), and winged horses. Patterns, like the zigzag motif on the horses’ manes, function to distinguish individual features.
The weaver of this textile was clearly influenced by the art of the Sasanian Empire, which had ruled Persia 400 years earlier. The creatures allude to figures in the texts of the state religion, Zoroastrianism, and the design appears to have been inspired by Sasanian coins and silver plates, which feature similar creatures. In the Christian European context, textiles such as these were most often found in the tombs of saints and royalty.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Elephants and Winged Horses.

This object was donated by John Pierpont Morgan. It is credited Gift of John Pierpont Morgan.

  • Roundel (Egypt)
  • warp: undyed s-spun wool; wefts: s-spun red wool; s-spun white linen; s-spun....
  • Gift of John Pierpont Morgan.
  • 1902-1-71
  • Man's Robe (China)
  • silk, metallic yarns.
  • Museum purchase from Au Panier Fleuri Fund.
  • 1960-32-1

Our curators have highlighted 9 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Fragment (Egypt)
  • wool, linen.
  • Museum purchase through gift of Anonymous Donor.
  • 1946-103-1

Its dimensions are

H x W: 51.4 x 32.7 cm (20 1/4 x 12 7/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Fragment (Spain); silk; H x W: 51.4 x 32.7 cm (20 1/4 x 12 7/8 in.); Gift of John Pierpont Morgan; 1902-1-222

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Hewitt Sisters Collect.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Fragment (Spain) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=6 February 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>