Altar frontal called the...

Textiles and clothing


Altar frontal called the “Witches' Cloth”

Period of the taifas kingdoms or Almoravid period, first half of the 12th century
Weft-faced compound twill, three lats. Two yellow silk warps and three (red, drack green, and alternating yellow and white) silk wefts
108 x 238 cm
From the monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses (Ripollès)
MEV 557

The ‘Witches' Cloth' or ‘Witches Canopy' is an Andalusian fabric which, according to tradition, was used as an altar frontal. It has two alternating decorative bands. The bottom one and the top one, which are repeated, show pairs of peacocks, separated by the 'hom' or tree of life, with their tails open. The middle band shows pairs of imaginary animals with a lion's body, a bird's wings, a harpy's talons and a tail in the form of a snake with panther's heads; the two heads joined together outline the appearance of a face at once human and animal and give rise to the fabric's name. It is part of a group of Andalusian fabrics from the 11th and 12th centuries, characterised by being made with the same technique, the same colours and same decoration of alternating bands of animals facing each other.

9-10-11 Gothic Art
12-13-14 Renaissance
15-16 Textiles and Clothing
17 Glass

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