1200s or earlier
Silk, gold thread; tapestry weave
Overall: 63.5 x 34.7 cm (25 x 13 11/16 in.); Mounted: 73.7 x 45.7 cm (29 x 18 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1991.3
This colorful, robust pattern features spirited Iranian golden lions, traditional symbols of royalty, amid large palmette leaves on vines that repeat, facing alternate directions in an asymmetrical Chinese-inspired layout. The regular repetition of the design indicates that it was influenced by silk patterns that were preset on large drawlooms, whereas variations in the motifs and colors confirm it was woven by hand in the tapestry technique. The pattern was created with silk thread in 13 rich colors and gold thread on parchment strips wrapped around a yellow core for increased visibility. This luxury fabric served as a container, most likely for imperial correspondence, a forerunner of paper envelopes today.
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