Fragment with Lion Strangler from a Dalmatic of Saint Bernard Calvo

Fragment with Lion Strangler from a Dalmatic of Saint Bernard Calvo


Silk and gold thread: lampas, taqueté, and plain-weave variant

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



Within the elaborate roundel, a bearded man with a belted tunic strangles a lion in each hand. Gold thread shimmers on their heads and his hands. In the inscription band across the top, an Arabic word has been written with mirror-image symmetry. It can be read as al-yumn, primarily translated as prosperity.

The central motif of this renowned silk is a pre- Islamic Persian symbol of royal power. Both Muslims and Christians throughout the Iberian Peninsula admired such textiles. Members of the Catholic clergy incorporated it into a dalmatic—a long ceremonial tunic. It was found in the late 1800s in the tomb of Saint Bernard Calvo, Bishop of Vich (1180–1243).

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