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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Tapestry

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The Church of the Middle Ages required for various purposes a great number of tapestries for dorsalia at the back of the choir-stalls, for closing the doors and windows, for the protecting enclosures of the altars, for the veiling of the sanctuary during the fast-time (fasting-cloths), and especially for clothing the walls and the floor. At first the tapestry came from the East, until, in the 4th century, a tapestry manufactory was formed at Palermo, which, under the hands of Saracen and Byzantine workmen, imitated the Oriental patterns. These old silk webs, of which we find remains here and there in collections, show a strictly architectonic style, and are covered with figures of animals of a typical character, such as griffins, unicorns, lions, elephants, peacocks, and parrots. In the northern cloisters, tapestry-weaving was learned and soon practiced, even from the beginning of the Romanesque period, and the circle of representations was increased by Biblical and symbolical scenes, to which were added representations out of favorite poets. Tapestry embroidery was an occupation followed with zeal in the nunneries. From the 14th century, carpets painted with size-colors on linen were also made. With the entrance of Gothic art, there appears in use a friezelike composition, hand in hand with a naive naturalistic border, which drives out the severe style of the earlier times. Interesting tapestries of the Romanesque period, partly with antique mythological representations, are to be seen in the treasury of the collegiate church at Quedlinburg; others of the same time, with Christian representations, in the cathedral at Halberstadt, intended for the backs of choir-stalls. A complete selection of tapestries is in the monastery of Wienhausen, near Zell, one of them as embroidery with the history of Tristan and Isolde; others in the St. Elizabeth Church at Marburg, in St. Sebald and St. Lorenz, at Nuremberg, and in many church treasuries.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Tapestry'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/t/tapestry.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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