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Textile (Italy), possibly 13th century

This is a Textile. It is dated possibly 13th century and we acquired it in 1902. Its medium is silk, metallic and its technique is supplementary warp pile (velvet) in plain weave foundation, with continuous supplementary weft patterning. It is a part of the Textiles department.

This opulent velvet with a pattern of offset gold disks was most likely imported to Europe from a production center along the Silk Road like Tabriz, a city in Persia used as a capital by Mongol rulers. Chinggis Khan often spared artisans such as weavers during his conquest of Persia, relocating them closer to the Mongol homeland. When he reopened trade along the Silk Road in 1240, fine silks, often called Tartar silks, began pouring into Europe. They were used in garments and furniture, and were prized by aristocratic Mongols and Europeans alike because they proclaimed the affluence of the owner and acted as stores of wealth. A pattern similar to this one, with gold disks on a red ground, appears on the cope of St. Louis Toulouse in a 1317 painting by Simone Martini at the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled Velvet with Gold Disks.

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

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

Its dimensions are

H x W: 53 × 26 cm (20 7/8 × 10 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile (Italy), possibly 13th century; silk, metallic; H x W: 53 × 26 cm (20 7/8 × 10 1/4 in.); Gift of John Pierpont Morgan; 1902-1-385

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

This object has no known Copyright restrictions.

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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=Textile (Italy), possibly 13th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 September 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>