Value-Added Stuffs and Shifts in Meaning: An Overview and Case Study of Medieval Textile Paradigms

  • Désirée Koslin
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Throughout the medieval period in Europe, textile production and its adjunct industries was the lifeblood of medieval life and economics.1 Textile trade and commerce brought revenue as they introduced novel technologies and design aesthetics for merchants to disseminate and for entrepreneurs to emulate.2 The urban centers of Europe grew around the ports and places of textile manufacture, and many cloth merchants became rich and powerful in city governance and as suppliers to the courts. Surviving documents, especially trade accounts and inventories, allow an understanding of the direct relations between luxury consumption and the demands of ceremonial circumstance. For instance, massive expenditures to purchase precious textiles were incurred for royal or ecclesiastical investitures, and for the matrimonial and funerary requirements of medieval society’s elite.3 In prestigious commissions of works of art, the costliest pigments and elaborate techniques were used to depict these fine textile qualities and luxurious garments by artists who were employed by secular and ecclesiastical patrons of art.4

Keywords

Migration Corn Europe Cage Marketing 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    An excellent, recent synthesis is by Dominique Cardon, La Draperie au Moyen Age: Essor d’une grande industrie europénne (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 1999). For the later Middle Ages, the essays inGoogle Scholar
  2. N.B. Harte, ed., The New Draperies in the Low Countries and England, 1300–1800 (Oxford and New York: The Pasold Research Fund and Oxford University Press, 1997) are most useful.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    For the exchanges with Islamic Spain, the Mediterranean region, and West and East Asia, see Karel Otavsky and Muhammad Abbas Muhammad Salim, Mittelalterliche Textilien: Agypten, Persien und Mesopotamien, Spanien und Nordafrika (Bern: Abegg-Stiftung Riggisberg, 1995); Riggisberger Berichte Band 5, Islamische Textilkunst des Mittelalters: Aktuelle Probleme (Bern: Abegg-Stiftung Riggisberg, 1997); andGoogle Scholar
  4. James C. Y. Watt and Anne E. Wardwell, When Silk Was Gold: Central Asian and Chinese Textiles (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997).Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    See, for instance, Agnes Page, Vêtir le Prince Tissus et couleurs à la cour de Savoie (1427–1447), (Cahiers Lausannois d’histoire médiévale 8, Lausanne, 1993);Google Scholar
  6. Lisa Monnas, “Textiles for the Coronation of Edward III” in Textile History, Vol. 32, No 1 (2001); 2–35, and Françoise Piponmer, “Les Etoffes de deuil” in A réveiller les morts (Lyon Presses Universitaires, 1993), 135–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 4.
    For this context, see Jonathan J. G. Alexander, Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992), especially 52–71, alsoGoogle Scholar
  8. Odile Blanc, “Parures Sacrées” in Brocarts Celestes (Avignon: Musées du Petit Palais, 1997), 23–30; andGoogle Scholar
  9. Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  10. 5.
    See, for instance, J. J. G. Alexander, “Labeur et Paresse Ideological Images of Medieval Peasant Labour” in Art Bulletin 72 (1990): 436–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 9.
    See John H. Munro, “The Medieval Scarlet and the Economy of Sartorial Splendour,” in Cloth and Clothing in medieval Europe, eds. N. B. Harte and K. B. Ponting (London The Pasold Fund, 1983), 13–70.Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    See E. M. Carus-Wilson, Medieval Merchant Ventures: Collected Studies (London: Methuen, 1954), 226–33.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Herodotos, Dioscurides, and Pliny the Elder describe dye recipes with scientific, empirical intent. Plutarch and the anonymous, third-century author of the Papyrus graecus holmiensis, Uppsala, University Library, include references to alchemy, see R.J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology, Vol. IV (Leiden: Brill, 1956), 128–36Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Joan M. Petersen, ed. and trans., Handmaids of the Lord: Contemporary Descriptions of Feminine Asceticism in the First Six Centuries (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1996), 258.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    See Michael Camille, Gothic Art: Glorious Visions (New York: Harry N, Abrams, 1996), esp. 41–57; andGoogle Scholar
  16. John Gage, Color and Meaning: Art, Science and Symbolism (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999), esp. 68–81.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    See A. R. Wagner, Heralds and Heraldry in the Middle Ages (London: HMSO, 1967); andGoogle Scholar
  18. Ottfried Neubecker, Wappenkunde (Munich: Orbis, 1991); andGoogle Scholar
  19. Michel Pastoreau, Couleurs, images, symboles. Etudes d’histoire et d’anthropologie (Pans: 1989).Google Scholar
  20. 19.
    See Daniel V. Thompson, The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting (New York: Dover, 1956), 134.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    See Ruth Mellmkoff, Outcasts: Signs of Otherness in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages, 2 vols (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Oxford: University of California Press, 1993) for a full treatment of the late medieval material, and among others byGoogle Scholar
  22. Michel Pastoreau, “Formes et couleurs du desordre: le jaune avec le vert,” in Médiévales 4 (1983): 62–73. Then as now, brightly contrasting colors would also be used for visual attention-getting, as in medieval heraldry and livery and contemporary traffic signs.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 22.
    See the oft-cited passage in Abbot Suger’s “De Admmistratione” in Erwin Panofsky, ed., Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of St.-Denis and Its Art Treasures (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1946), 57–67.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    In medieval secular society, the wearing of chaste all white was by special, clerical dispensation only, as we learn in Margery of Kempe’s account of her life; see W. Butler-Bowdon, ed., The Book of Margery of Kempe (London and Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1936), 97, 108, 134, and elsewhere.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    For terms see Françoise Piponnier and Perrine Mane, Se vêtir au Moyen Âge (Paris: Adam Biro, 1995);Google Scholar
  26. Elisabeth Hardoum-Fugier et al., Les Étoffes: Dictionnaire Historique (Paris: Les Éditions de l’Amateur, 1994), andGoogle Scholar
  27. A. R. Bridbury, Medieval English Clothmaking An Economic Survey (London: The Pasold Fund, 1982).Google Scholar
  28. 27.
    For an exceptionally lucid and concise account, see Priscilla P. Soucek, “Artistic Exchange in the Mediterranean Context,” in The Meeting of Two Worlds The Crusades and the Mediterranean Context, ed Clifton Olds (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1981), 15–16, and the textile entries of this catalogue.Google Scholar
  29. 28.
    For a concise introduction, see Agnes Geyer, A History of Textile Art: A Selective Account (London: Pasold Research Fund, 1979), 57–60.Google Scholar
  30. 29.
    See Luther Hooper, Hand-Loom weaving: Plain and Ornamental (London: Pitman & Sons, 1910 (1953));Google Scholar
  31. John Becker, Pattern and Loom: A Practical Study of the Development of Weaving Techniques in China, Western Asia and Europe (Copenhagen: Rhodos, 1987); andGoogle Scholar
  32. Regula Schorta, “Zur Entwicklung der Lampastechnik,” in Riggisberger Berichte Band 5 (1997): 173–80.Google Scholar
  33. 30.
    See Anna Muthesius, Byzantine Silk Weaving AD 400 to AD 1200 (Vienna: Verlag Fassbaender, 1997), 38–9, and catalogue M58.Google Scholar
  34. 31.
    See Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250–1800 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994), 25–33.Google Scholar
  35. 32.
    See Monique King and Donald King, European Textiles in the Keir Collection: 400 BC to 1800 AD (London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1990), 44–54; andGoogle Scholar
  36. Anne E. Wardwell, “Panni Tartarici. Eastern Islamic Silks Woven with Gold and Silver (13th and 14th Centuries)” in Islamic Art III (1989) 95–174.Google Scholar
  37. 35.
    See Brigitte Tietzel, Italienische Seidengewebe des 13., 14. und 15 Jahrhunderts (Cologne: Deutsches Textimuseum Krefeld, 1984)Google Scholar
  38. 36.
    See Friedrich Muthmann, Der Granatapfel. Symbol des Lebens in der Alten Welt (Bern: Schriften der Abegg-Stiftung, 1982).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    The Cloisters’ two other tapestries and two fragments depicting unicorn motifs are now thought to belong to other pictorial cycles; see Adolfo S. Cavallo, Medieval Tapestries in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993), 297–327, catalogue numbers 20 b, c, d, e; and his The Unicorn Tapestries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998).Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Technically, “brocade “designates extra-weft patterning, and can be applied to any woven substrate. Here it is used in its popular sense, designating a richly patterned, compound weave, usually including metallic threads, but distinct from velvet, for instance, in that it doesn’t feature any pile. See subject listed in Dorothy Burnham, Warp and Weft: A Textile Terminology (Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1980).Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    See several tapestry examples in Fabienne Joubert, La tapisserie médiévale au musée de Cluny (Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1994), 93–103. On the voyeuristic depictions of the lower classes, see the previously cited article by J.J. G.Alexander, n. 5, and Ruth Mellinkoff s Outcasts, n. 21, as well as Keith Moxey’s various works, for instance his “Sebald Beham’s Church Anniversary Holidays: Festive Peasants as Instruments of Repressive Humour,” in Simiolus 12 (1981–82): 107–30.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Later in the Modern Era, this treatment is reported in 1640 being applied to ribbed worsted qualities as well, see Eric Kerridge, Textile Manufactures in Early Modern England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), 53.Google Scholar
  43. 45.
    Guy Delmarcel, Golden Weavings: Flemish Tapestries of the Spanish Crown (Malines, Munich and Amsterdam: Gaspard De Wit Foundation, 1993), cat. no. 10, c. 1525–1530, The Foundation of Rome, now La Granja de San Ildefonso of the Collection of the Spanish Crown.Google Scholar
  44. 47.
    See Alan Phipps Darr et al., Woven Splendour: Five Centuries of European Tapestry in the Detroit Institute of Arts (Seattle and London: The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1996), ca. 1500–1510, now in the Detroit Institute of Arts collection, cat. No. 9.Google Scholar
  45. 48.
    See Cecilia Paredes et al., Âge d’or bruxellois. Tapisseries de la Couronne d’Espagne (Brussels: Bruxelles/Brussel, 2000), cat. No. 10–13, ca. 1515–1520, Brussels workshop, now Madrid, Palacio Real.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Désirée G. Koslin and Janet E. Snyder 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Désirée Koslin

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations