Lampas with lion strangler, from a dalmatic of Saint Bernard Calvo

Lampas with lion strangler, from a dalmatic of Saint Bernard Calvo

1200-1243

Lampas, taqueté, and plain-weave variant: silk and gold thread

Overall: 43.8 x 39.7 cm (17 1/4 x 15 5/8 in.); Mounted: 53 x 49.8 cm (20 7/8 x 19 5/8 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1950.146

Description

This renowned Lion Strangler silk symbolized Muslim imperial power in Islamic Spain. In a simplified style, a man strangles lions with his mighty arms in roundels bordered by winged animals. Gold thread shimmers on their heads and hands. The Arabic word for power repeats in the inscription band, reinforcing the lion strangler image. This silk came from vestments in the tomb of Saint Bernard Calvo, Bishop of Vich (1233–43), found in the late 1800s. It is one of dozens of sumptuous Islamic silks that transcended religious boundaries and were preserved in the elaborate sarcophagi of Christian rulers and bishops, reflecting the strong pan-Iberian aesthetic.

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