The Stola is sewn together from eight pieces of differing sizes cut from
the same gold fabric. The black silk used for the eagles has largely
fallen out; all that remains are the round medallions surrounded with
double rows of pearls. These alternate with a total of 68 appliqués of gilt
silver, which, as on the long side of the Stola, are set in double rows of
pearls. To protect the precious silk fabric, all the rows of pearls and
most of the appliqués are underlaid with parchment. The enamels
in the appliqués are underlaid with several layers of paper, cut precisely
to shape and covered with writing that can be dated to the 14th century.
The Stola appears to have been modelled on its Norman predecessor,
which may have been damaged, or on a Hohenstaufen version in between.
Perhaps it was made for Louis of Bavaria. Its unusual length is remarkable;
it is not possible to wear it like a liturgical stole. It seems to have been
modelled on the loros that the Byzantine emperor wore, and which was
imitated by the Normans. With the help of mosaic depictions of Roger II
and William II in Palermo, the tradition of wearing the loros over the
shoulder and around the hips can be reconstructed, and this also solves
the puzzle about the various pieces out of which the Vienna Stola was
sewn. In stitching the pieces together, attention was always paid to the
attitude of the eagle, so that when the stole was correctly wrapped the
eagle would always be visible with its head up. The memory of the
imperial loros seems to have soon been lost, however; the Stola was then
considered the equal of the priestly stole and was worn draped across the
chest despite its great length. © Masterpieces of the Secular Treasury, Edited by Wilfried Seipel, Vienna 2008


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