Fragment with confronted sphinxes in roundels from the tomb of Saint Bernard Calvo

Fragment with confronted sphinxes in roundels from the tomb of Saint Bernard Calvo

1200-43

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

Overall: 54.3 x 64.5 cm (21 3/8 x 25 3/8 in.); Mounted: 66.7 x 76.8 cm (26 1/4 x 30 1/4 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1950.394

Description

Composite creatures, such as winged lions and sphinxes, predate the rise of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. Islamic textiles continued to include them for centuries after the Arab conquest of Spain. Pairs of lions with gold faces rear up to bite the haunches of the winged beasts. In between the roundels are pairs of peacocks, motifs traceable to pre-Islamic Persian art that spread throughout the Islamic world, including Spain.

The body of Saint Bernard Calvo, the Catholic Bishop of Vich in 1233–43, was wrapped in textiles, including these fragments that still retain traces of his blood.

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