Sunday 15 July 2012

12th Century Sicilian Gold and Pearl Work Mantle

I am such a fan of the series of videos made by the SmartHistory Team within the Khan Academy. I watch at least one a day while I have a break to have a cup of tea. They usually last around 5 minutes - just the right length of time for those short relaxation breaks. This is a special video on textiles and features a coronation mantle from around 1133 that is now in the Neue Hofburg in Viena. The fabric is from Byzantium or Thebes and is samite worked with silk, gold, pearls, filigree, sapphires, garnets, glass, and cloisonné enamel. It is thought to have been made during the flowering time of Norman rule in Sicily at Palermo during the reign of King Roger. It is edged with a Kufic script which translated reads: This mantle was worked in the most magnificent clothing workshop and is connected with the desire and hopes, felicitous days and nights without cease or change, with authority, with honor and felicity, assurances of trust, reverent care, protection, good destiny, freedom from harm, triumph and livelihood in the capital city of Sicily in the year 528 - 1133/34 in the Gregorian calendar. To see the wonderful collection of SmartHistory videos, click here.


  1. Thank you for your kind words. Comments such as yours make our work at Smarthistory much more meaningful.

    With appreciation,
    Steven Zucker

  2. That's one biiiig piece of work! Thanks for the link - shall go investigate the SmartHistory site some more. It was a bit of a tease - inconography of camels, and I'm straining to see a close up of the technique! All to the good :-)

    1. for more detailed photos, see my Flickr stream and look in the section Vienna...