Fragment with Lion Strangler from a Dalmatic of Saint Bernard Calvo


The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, United States

Within the elaborate roundel, a bearded man with a belted tunic strangles a lion in each hand. Gold thread shimmers on their heads and his hands. In the inscription band across the top, an Arabic word has been written with mirror-image symmetry. It can be read as <em>al-yumn</em>, primarily translated as <em>prosperity</em>.

The central motif of this renowned silk is a pre- Islamic Persian symbol of royal power. Both Muslims and Christians throughout the Iberian Peninsula admired such textiles. Members of the Catholic clergy incorporated it into a dalmatic—a long ceremonial tunic. It was found in the late 1800s in the tomb of Saint Bernard Calvo, Bishop of Vich (1180–1243).

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  • Title: Fragment with Lion Strangler from a Dalmatic of Saint Bernard Calvo
  • Date Created: 1200-1243
  • Physical Dimensions: Overall: 43.8 x 39.7 cm (17 1/4 x 15 5/8 in.); Mounted: 53 x 49.8 cm (20 7/8 x 19 5/8 in.)
  • Provenance: from tomb of St. Bernard Calvo, Bishop of Vich, who died in 1243; this fragment from one of vestments found in tomb at the Cathedral of Vich when it was opened at the end of the 19th century, (Paul O. Berliz, New York, NY, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art), The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Type: Textile
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1950.146
  • Medium: Silk and gold thread: lampas, taqueté, and plain-weave variant
  • Inscriptions: the inscription (incorrectly written) appears to read "al-'amir" (command, i.e. authority) [alternately retrograde and vice versa].
  • Department: Textiles
  • Culture: Spain, Almeria
  • Credit Line: Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
  • Collection: T - Islamic
  • Accession Number: 1950.146

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