Byzantine Eagle Silk

Byzantine Eagle Silk

65.00

Byzantine silk

Period: Xth century
Pattern repeat: 21 cm
Material width: 105 cm
100% silk

10 in stock

Weight 130 g
Dimensions 105 cm

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Similar eagles from the period appeared in many European countries. We have examples of Byzantine eagle patterned silks from France, Germany, Italy and Danemark as well.


Two-headed eagle on the Shroud of St. Amadus
10 -12th c. Riggisberg, Abegg-Stiftung CH-3132.

Phyllis Ackerman describes the type of this silk as one of the few truly Byzantine style patterns. He wrote that “beginning in the early tenth century … the Byzantine shops had produced a class of sumptuous, skilfully woven silks, highly distinctive in motif, style and colour. … The deep-toned lion and eagle series of silks is thus the only group of important medieval figural silks that can be said to represent the Byzantine textile art undeflected by Syrian traditions.”

Ackerman gave a really nice description about this pattern as well: “The double-headed eagle carries the sun rosette on its wings. That the feline creature which it dominates is a beast of evil is shown by the serpent’s head on the end of its tail. … Here are the emblems of the Great God, the Sun, emblazoned as manifest of the divine right of the Basileos.”

 

Byzantine eagle representations clarly influenced the Magyar goldsmiths in the Xth century as well.

Left: Byzantine silk pattern
Center: Tress disc from Rakamaz (Hungary)
Right: Tress disc from Zemplén (Slovakia)

Ackermann’s collection about eagles on silks:
Double-headed eagle from Sens (France) (Chartraire Inventory 21); Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs;
and possession of Indjoudjian (London Persian Exhibition Catalogue Number 40 I.) This last has been classed as Persian by L. AsHTON, Textiles, some early pieces (in the Persian Exhibition), The Burlington Magazine, L (1931), p. 27, and caption to illustration (printed upside down), Pl. IV C. This piece was found in 1925 in the Rayyi graves and there is reason to date it in the third quarter of the eleventh century.
The single-headed eagle displayed is seen on the Chasuble of the Blessed Hartmann (1140-1164) in the church of Brixen (Italy) (illustrated LESSING, op. cit., Pl. 78; FALKE, op. cit., Pl. 250 or Fig.251). This is by far the latest piece of the series and one wonders whether it does not antedate the Beatus by some decades.
Similar
pattern on a piece in Knuds Church in Odensi (Danemark), FALKE, op. cit., PI. 253 or Fig. 184,
and a fragment in Stuttgart Library, ibid., PI. 252 or Fig. 183.
A fragment of a large rosette, from a silk of this type, is in the Kestner Muséum, Hanover (Germany).
The shroud of Saint Germain in the Church of Saint Eusebius of Auxerre (France) (of which there are fragments in the Bargello and the Victoria and Albert Museum) is similar in design, but lighter in tonality.

Sources:
Ackerman, Phyllis: A Gold-woven Byzantine Silk of the Tenth Century. In. Revue des arts asiatiques Vol. 10, No. 2 (JUIN 1936), pp. 86-91

Bollók, Ádám: The Birds on the Braid Ornaments from Rakamaz: a View from the Mediterranean. In: Sonderdruck aus Falko Daim · Jörg Drauschke (Hrsg.) Byzanz –das Römerreich im Mittelalter.  Teil 3 Peripherie und Nachbarschaft, Verlag des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz 2010

Vries, Hubert de: National Arms and Emblems. Past and Present: Two Headed Eagle