Silk and gold thread: lampas
Overall: 124 x 48.8 cm (48 13/16 x 19 3/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1989.50
The Mongols created exceptionally sumptuous cloths of gold to symbolize their imperial authority and legitimacy, this being the most resplendent example known. Opulent expanses of gold thread enrich the roundels, lions, and griffins in striking contrast with the intricate brown silk foliate ground. The pattern integrates motifs from Iran—paired lions in roundels and paired griffins—and from China, cloud ornaments on the lions’ wings. They suggest it was woven in an imperial workshop in Central Asia where Iranian and Chinese craftsmen worked together with local artisans. The gold is on a paper substrate associated with Asia, whereas animal skin substrates were used in Islamic lands. It is woven in a new technique developed by Iranian weavers, a combination of two weaves known as lampas, which was adopted internationally.
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