Dalmatic of Pope Benedict XI, consists of “panni tartarici”, 14th century. Photo: Convento di San Domenico, Perugia.

Dalmatic of Pope Benedict XI, consists of “panni tartarici,” 14th century. Photo: Convento di San Domenico, Perugia.

Project (2021)

Oriental Silks and the Italian Arts during the Fourteenth Century

During the fourteenth century, oriental silks made a difference to the Italian silk industry in various aspects, including imported raw materials, dye, manufacturing systems, and exotic taste. The research project traces how the Italian silk lampas started from absorbing the design elements of oriental silks to self-innovation to meet the consumers requirements.

One of the main clues to understanding the relationship between oriental silks and Italian figured silks is the panni tartarici, which generally refers to silk lampas structures with metallic produced in the Mongol empire. The panni tartarici widely appeared in the vestment and collection of churches, often combined with fabrics of different provenance. Based on the survey of silk objects and vestments in the European museums and church treasuries, the project discusses the usage of panni tartarici and other oriental silks in churches daily routine, ceremony, and gifting. The role of luxury oriental silks in expressing political power will be revealed as a consequence.

Besides investigating the textile items, the project wants to draw attention to the figured silk represented in paintings. As another realization of the oriental taste in Italian silk lampas, these visual materials provide evidence to understand the transformation of the oriental silk patterns, for example, phoenix (fenghuang), dragon (long), qilin, etc., under the Christian context and within the circle of the artists workshops.