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Cloth from the Promised Land

Appropriated Islamic Tiraz in Twelfth-Century French Sculpture
  • Janet Snyder
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

The fme cloak from which the Italian Norman Bohemond fashioned Crusaders’ badges was most likely an Islamic textile and his action of marking his warriors with arm bands follows the Islamic fashion. Similar decorative bands adorn sleeves and skirts of column-figures installed in church portal programs in northern France between the 1140s and the 1160s, linking them to the Islamic/Crusader mode of dress (see figure 9.1). This essay will address the appropriation of arm bands along with other borrowed elements of Islamic dress and textiles. More than the whim of fashion was involved in this appropriation: Although it is unlikely that Europeans could read the inscribed bands or fully grasp the concept that objects associated with the caliph brought blessings, they could observe the material success of the califs followers.2 The puttingon of the arm bands characteristic of the dress of the Islamic ruler’s coterie seems to suggest that a parallel status might be assumed by the Europeans similarly attired. For success in the Holy Land, Christian warriors had been promised eternal salvation, but for some of them, their exploits brought temporal power as well, giving them titles and property in the Levant. Decorative arm bands applied to sleeves of Europeans during the twelfth century serve as multivalent signs of success.

Keywords

Fine Linen Silk Cloth Twelfth Century Metropolitan Museum Promise Land 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Paula Sanders, “Robes of Honor in Fatimid Egypt,” in Robes and Honor: The Medieval World of Investiture, ed. Stewart Gordon (New York: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 225–26. During the Abbasid period (750–1258) Egyptian chroniclers used a term referring to the robe of honor bestowed by the calif, khil’a, as a shorthand for the appointment to office.Google Scholar
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    M. Lombard, Études d’économie médiévale, III, Les textiles dans le monde musulman du VIIe au XIIe siècle. (Paris: Mouton, 1978), p. 55.Google Scholar
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    The word tiraz may indicate embroidery, woven cloth, arm bands, or the textile workshop. “During the first centuries of Islam it was Egypt that was most renowned for its textiles, its tiraz, and for several centuries it continued to supply the caliphate with the cloth for the so-called robes of honor. By extension, the word tiraz was applied also to the arm bands or brassards of gold thread decorated with calligraphy that are seen in many Arabic miniatures and that were conferred on worthy individuals along with the robes of honor. Brocades were abundantly used for garments, curtains, hangings, and cushions” Alexandre Papadopoulo, Islam and Muslim Art (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1979), p. 190.Google Scholar
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    The dimensions of this rectangle of fine linen gauze with tapestry woven of silk bands and roundels, 3 m. 10 cm. long, would classify it as a pallium rather than a veil. Originally, it may have been sewn along the shoulder as an open tunic or coat. H. A. Eisberg and R. Guest “The Veil of Saint Anne” Burlington Magazine 68 (1936): pp. 149–54;Google Scholar
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    Archives nationales, Le Sacre à propos d’un millénaire 987–1987 (Paris: Archives nationales, Musée de l’Histoire de France, 1987): no. 36, Mars 25– mai 26, 1106, Chartres. For a document relating to the marriage, see Constance, fille de Philippe I, marriage with Bohémond of Antioche, in Achille Luchaire, Louis VI, le Gros, Annales de sa vie et son règne (1081–1137) (1890 repr. Brussels: Culture et Civilisation, 1964).Google Scholar
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    See figure 9.2. For other examples see M. Yoshida, In Search of Persian Pottery (New York: Weatherhill, 1972), fig. 7;Google Scholar
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    For Saint-Bénigne, see Dom Urbain Plancher, Histoire générale et particulière de Bourgogne (Dijon: 1739, repr., Paris: Éditions du Palais Royal, 1974), p. 503. Patterns appear on all column-figure sculpture at Étampes, at Saint Germain-des-Prés: L3 (see Johannes Mabillon, Annales Ordinis S. Benedicti, [Paris 1703-39] 2: 169), at Notre-Dame, Paris: L1 (see Dom Bernard de Montfaucon, Les Monuments de Monarchie Françoise, qui comprennent l’Histoire de France [Paris, 1729], 1 : Plate 7), Chartres: LL1, LL2, RR1, Angers: L2, Vermenton: R, Saint Denis: RL3.Google Scholar
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    Fountainhead in Griffin Form, Egypt, eleventh century, Cast bronze with incised decoration, ca. 39” h., Camposanto Museum, Pisa. Marilyn Jenkins, “Al-Andalus: Crucible of the Mediterranean,” The Art of Medieval Spain, A.D. 500–1200 (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993), p. 81. My thanks to C. T. Little for this observation.Google Scholar
  26. 49.
    For a discussion of carving methods, see Vibeke Olson, “Oh Master, You are Wonderful! The Problem of Labor in the Ornamental Sculpture of the Chartres Royal Portal,” AVISTA Forum Journal 13.1 (2003): 6–13;Google Scholar
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    For a concise discussion of the cloth trade at the Fairs of Champagne, see E. Jane Burns, Courtly Love Undressed, Reading through Clothes in Medieval French Culture (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), pp. 190–91.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© E. Jane Burns 2004

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  • Janet Snyder

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