Wednesday 12 February 2014

Perugia Cloths

In my prolonged world-hopping search for the origins of the Amager designs, I recently came across some beautiful and intriguing cloths from the 15th and 16th centuries (more tomorrow!) The cloths originate in Perugia, a lovely Italian town that is situated half-way between Florence and Rome. The cloths appear woven, but are in fact, pattern darned on the surface in a woad-dyed thread.
With their men standing on horseback, and all manner of small birds and motifs tucked in the spaces between the larger figures, I might be forgiven for thinking that there is more than a passing resemblance.

The cloths are often referred to as Perugia Towels in English and you can see from this example above, why they are so called. If not towels, they resemble the decorative parade cloths of other cultures
For the most part the cloths are distinguished by their figurative or animal borders and, again, in some ways, they seem to have an affinity to Assisi work.
And seeing the paintings by Domenico Ghirlandaio made in the last quarter of the 15th century had me rethinking the cloth in Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus which initially I'd thought to be Assisi work, but may in fact have been a Perugia cloth.
Domenico Ghirlandaio includes two different Perugia cloths in his paintings, the one above appears to have very eastern appearing mythical winged animals, while below, the design is simpler and features what we sampler makers might call a Solomon's porch with confronting birds and stylized trees.
A similar architectural motif is seen on the cloth below, which in spite of having red decoration, is also from Perugia.
And the art continues, though the designs on these cloths are woven. This example below is from the Bottega Arte Ceccucci.


  1. Thanks for all the detective work, I just love this type of design. I may have to dust off my magnifying glass and see what I can unearth. When I was young we had a cover for the old Dutch clock in a similar style.

  2. Thank you so much for this very interesting and beautiful post. I am awed by the needle skills required to produce these Perugia cloths. That very first close up view is really something to could someone have created this!