Tuesday 20 August 2013

Saved By Mud - The 14th Century Anjou Textile * Castle Museum * Budapest

In a well nearly 14 metres deep in the grounds of the former Teleki Palace archaeologists searched a 5 meters thick layer of mud. At the bottom were coins minted 1390 and 1427. Some 10 metres down, appearing like a mud ball, they found this silk patchwork depicting the Hungarian–Angevin coat-of-arms together with a number of other silk finds. The mud has conserved the material although the pigments of the dyes have deteriorated. Traces of stitches suggest that the work was backed. A three-forked floating motif depicting a letter ‘E’ lying flat can be seen overlaying the lilies in the Angevin shield. This device, called abatement in heraldry, links the find with the royal house of Naples which was ruled by the French house of Anjou at that time.

Its mode of working was in the form of appliqué embroidery sewn together from individual elements. The original size is not known. In its present form, it was coarsely cut on some edges and turned, something possibly explained by attempts to mend the damaged material. The device suggests that the owner must have been a ruler of the Angevin dynasty or someone from his close environment. A similar cloth covers the back of the throne on the 3rd great double seal of King Charles Robert Charles a scion of the Angevins of Naples. King Charles Robert ordered 80 feet of red, white and blue silk from Naples to make banners for his court, leading to speculation that Petrus Simonis Gallicus, the designer of the King's seal, also designed the Anjou Textile in the early 14th century
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