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Underside Couching in the Byzantine World

Le point couché retiré dans le monde byzantin
Η βελονιά “underside couching” στον Βυζαντινό κόσμο
Warren T. Woodfin

Résumés

Résumé : les spécialistes du textile ont longtemps partagé la conviction que la technique du point couché retiré était utilisée au Moyen Âge exclusivement dans le monde occidental. L’Angleterre est le centre le plus renommé de borderie au fil d’or dans cette technique, même si des exemples d’autres centres, sporadiques, sont connus, particulièrement en Italie. Des broderies à l’or qui utilisent le point couché retiré, malgré leur apparence extérieure byzantine, ont été attribuées à des ateliers occidentaux en partant du principe que les Byzantins ignoraient cette technique. Mais des exemples, récemment révélés, du nord de la mer Noire suggèrent que les Byzantins et leurs voisins slaves ont pu expérimenter cette technique au xiie siècle et au début du xiiie.

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1Among historians of medieval embroideries, there is a kind of received wisdom that the Byzantines used surface couching exclusively. That is to say that in Byzantine embroideries, the metallic threads (whether made of gold or silver‑gilt foil wrapped around a silk core or made of drawn metal wire) remain on the face of the fabric to which they are secured by the couching stitches and never penetrate the support textile. Underside couching (French: point couché retiré, German: Anlegetechnik mit versenktem Metallfaden), that technique in which a tiny loop of the gold thread is pulled through to the back side of the supporting fabric by a couching thread – generally of linen – is a feature thought to be absent from Byzantine embroidery (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Diagram of underside couching technique

Figure 1. Diagram of underside couching technique

Image : redrawn by Jacqui Hopely Monkell.

  • 1 Schuette & Müller‑Christensen, 1963, p. 12; Monnas, 2016, p. 12.
  • 2 Johnstone, 1967, p. 67.
  • 3 On the other hand, the absence of underside couching is used to argue a Byzantine attribution in t (...)

2Underside couching is associated first and foremost with England and its eponymous opus anglicanum embroidery production, although scattered examples of underside couching are known from other locations, including Sicily, South Italy and Venice – but not Byzantium.1 This, at least, was the conclusion reached by Pauline Johnstone’s foundational survey, The Byzantine Tradition in Church Embroidery, in which she professes not to have been able to find any example of underside couching in either Byzantine or post-Byzantine embroidery. Johnstone thus concludes that underside couching was “a technique unknown to Byzantine embroiderers”.2 For the past half-century, therefore, it has been treated almost as an axiom that the presence of underside couching on a work of gold embroidery can be used to exclude Constantinople – and the Byzantine Empire more broadly – as the locus of production.3

Figure 2. Embroidered panel, attrib. Venice, ca. 1325. Embroidered silk in metal thread and silks, lined with linen and silk velvet

Figure 2. Embroidered panel, attrib. Venice, ca. 1325. Embroidered silk in metal thread and silks, lined with linen and silk velvet

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, T.92-1969. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Underside Couching as Tool for Attribution

  • 4 London, Victoria and Albert Museum, T.92-1969. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O93469/embroidere (...)

3This principle of treating underside couching as decisive evidence against a Byzantine attribution applies even when the style of the piece is extremely Byzantine. One may take as an example the embroidered panel with a half-length figure of the blessing Christ, surrounded by a floral border, now in London (Fig. 2). Christ’s facial type with the highly arched brows and slender nose, the rendering of the shadows on his neck, and the articulation of the drapery all are typical of Palaiologan art of the early fourteenth century. The Latin inscription of Christ’s open book, “Ego sum lux mundi,” on the other hand, suggests a Western provenance. Technical analysis discloses the presence of the underside couching technique, which has led the museum to attribute the work to a Venetian workshop of the early fourteenth century.4

  • 5 Flury-Lemberg, 1988, p. 107-111 & p. 460, cat. no. 2; Martiniani-Reber, 2006 & 2007; Bacci, 2008; (...)

4A more complicated case arises with the Grandson Antependium now in the Historical Museum in Bern (Fig. 3).5

Figure 3. Grandson antependium, central portion attrib. to Cyprus, last quarter of 13th century; side panels attrib. England, early 14th century. Gilded silver thread and colored silk thread embroidery on a tabby (central panel) or twill (side panels) silk textile ground

Figure 3. Grandson antependium, central portion attrib. to Cyprus, last quarter of 13th century; side panels attrib. England, early 14th century. Gilded silver thread and colored silk thread embroidery on a tabby (central panel) or twill (side panels) silk textile ground

© Bernisches Historisches Museum, Bern. Photograph Nadja Frey.

  • 6 The altar, made of black Saint-Tryphon marble, is now in Berne. Personal communication with Mariel (...)
  • 7 1957/58; cited in Martiniani-Reber, 2007, p. 86-87.
  • 8 A pair of censing archangels, holding thuribles of the short-chained type familiar from Late Antiq (...)

5At first glance, the center portion of the hanging is quite Byzantine in appearance, with its enthroned Virgin and Child between two censing archangels. Despite this impression of a Byzantine composition, there are a few anomalies. Most obviously, the presence of the diminutive donor figure in a full suit of mail and surcoat at the foot of the throne speaks to the admixture of Western European elements, as do the heraldic blazons on either side. The identification of the armorial blazons links the work to the patronage of Othon I Grandson, whose biography places him at various times in Crusader Acre, Cyprus and England, while the measurements of the antependium link it convincigly to the altar formerly in the cathedral of Lausanne.6 The use of Latin and French inscriptions for the Mother of God and the archangels, respectively, also suggests an environment in which Western medieval and Byzantine visual cultures coexisted. Even the Byzantinizing iconography is not itself purely Eastern. Already in 1958, Mechtild Lemberg noted that the spherical form of the censers is typically Western European rather than Byzantine.7 In fact, despite their ubiquity in the art of Western Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, censing angels in Byzantine art are rather uncommon prior to the Palaiologan period.8

  • 9 Martiniani-Reber, 2007, p. 85, n 3. There is a mistake in the technical information given, where “ (...)
  • 10 Schuette & Müller‑Christensen, 1963, p. 31, no. 99; Flury‑Lemberg, 1988, p. 107.

6If the composition suggests a blending of Byzantine and Western European elements, the same is true of the work’s embroidery technique. The execution of the central portion of the antependium is in surface couching, which has suggested to scholars an Eastern Mediterranean origin (whether Byzantium itself, the Crusader states, or Cyprus) in keeping with its hybrid Byzantine and Western European style. The two flanking panels with their vases and twining vines are attributed to a different workshop on the basis of their use of underside couching.9 Following Marie Schuette and Sigrid Müller‑Christensen, the majority of scholars have accepted this technique as evidence of the side panels’ manufacture in England, since they have treated underside couching as a virtually equivalent term to opus anglicanum.10 As what follows will demonstrate, this equivalence is false. Not all English medieval embroidery, or opus anglicanum, utilizes underside couching, nor are all examples of underside couching English in origin.

  • 11 Müller‑Christensen, Kubach & Stein, 1972, p. 959‑960; Lalli, 2006, p. 117; Tekampe, 2011, p. 196. (...)
  • 12 Since the restoration campaign of 1960, the embroideries have been protected under gauze (Tekampe, (...)
  • 13 A similar motif occurs in the borders of the medallion of a silk lampas sewn as the “curtain” over (...)
  • 14 Herget et al., 2011, p. 224.

7Even if the criterion of surface vs. underside couching were removed from the equation, the attributions given above for the antependium in Bern and the embroidered panel in London would likely stand. But what about more ambiguous cases? A prime example is furnished by the Mantle of Philip of Swabia.11 The mantle, identical in form to a liturgical pluviale or cope, was excavated from the grave of Philip of Swabia (†1208) in Speyer Cathedral in 1900. It bears on either side of its opening a pair of large (21.5 cm diameter) embroidered medallions with images of a blessing Christ and the Mother of God (Fig. 4). The Byzantine style of the two medallion images is striking. Although their current state of preservation is extremely poor,12 it is clear that the figures conform to standard Byzantine iconographic types: Christ is shown with a closed codex in his left hand and blessing with his right hand, while the Mother of God holds her hands outward in an orant pose. The figures are labeled with the typical Greek abbreviations for the nomina sacra of Jesus Christ and the Mother of God. The rendering of the draperies follows Byzantine conventions, and Christ makes his gesture of blessing in the Byzantine rather than in the Western manner. The alternating heart‑shaped motif of the medallion border can be compared with parallel examples both in Byzantine textiles and manuscript illumination.13 On the other hand, the technique used of the metal threads is underside couching.14

Figure 4. Embroidered roundels from mantle of Philip of Swabia, attrib. Byzantium or Sicily, last quarter of the 12th century

Figure 4. Embroidered roundels from mantle of Philip of Swabia, attrib. Byzantium or Sicily, last quarter of the 12th century

Domschatz, Historisches Museum zu Pfalz, Speyer, Inv. no. D 332. Image: Historisches Museum zu Pfalz, Speyer. Photographer: Peter Haag-Kirchner.

  • 15 Schuette & Müller‑Christensen, 1963, p. 29; Schramm & Mütherich, 1962, p. 185‑187.
  • 16 Von Wilckens, 1991, p. 184; 1995, p. 279. In her 1995 article, p. 282, von Wilckens attributes a s (...)
  • 17 Coatsworth & Owen‑Crocker, 2018, p. 91‑92.
  • 18 Blocher, 2011, p. 126.
  • 19 Robert de Clari, 1969, p. 45‑46.
  • 20 Weller, 2010, p. 100‑101.

8These stylistics parallels were sufficient for Schuette and Müller‑Christensen to attribute the embroideries to Byzantium, ca. 1200, following the conclusions of Schramm and Mütherich.15 Leonie von Wilckens, on the other hand, rejected a Byzantine attribution for these roundels, citing the use of the underside couching technique, otherwise unknown in Byzantine embroideries. She connected them, instead, with the several pieces of the coronation regalia from Palermo that feature underside couching.16 The same opinion is followed by Elizabeth Coatsworth and Gail Owen‑Crocker in their recent publication, where they note the supposedly un‑Byzantine characteristic of underside couching in the haloes, draperies, and in the ornament of the medallions’ borders.17 Others, again based on the shared use of underside couching, have compared the embroideries on the mantle of Philip of Swabia with the more highly stylized figures executed in the same technique on the Mantle of Otto iv in Braunschweig, although they have only a rather tenuous stylistic connection.18 Thus the majority of recent scholarship rejects a Byzantine attribution for the embroideries despite Philip of Swabia’s strong Byzantine connections. Philip was married to Irina Angelina, the daughter of the Byzantine emperor Isaac ii Angelos (r. 1185‑1195, 1203‑1204). When his brother-in-law, the future Alexios iv, fled to Philip’s court, he unwittingly set in motion the chain of events that would lead to the Fourth Crusade’s diversion to Constantinople and the overthrow of Byzantine rule in the capital.19 Nonetheless, the consensus of recent publications has been that the embroideries must be attributed to Sicily on technical grounds, again, because underside couching is unknown among embroideries from Byzantium. There are some justifications for a Sicilian attribution in the biography of Irina Angelina, who reportedly met Philip of Swabia in Sicily.20 If, on the other hand, examples existed of underside couching from Eastern contexts, the simplest solution would surely be to attribute the embroideries on the mantle of Philip of Swabia to a Byzantine workshop.

New Evidence of Underside Couching in the East

  • 21 Dode, 2014, no. 1, p. 54‑66; Petrov, 2014, no. 1, p. 67‑74.
  • 22 Dode, 2014, p. 55‑56.

9As it happens, recent publications have brought to light examples of underside couching in embroideries of Byzantine style from the Slavic world. Zvezdana Dode and Arseniy Petrov have authored detailed studies on the remains of an embroidered textile with the Ascension of Christ depicted according to Byzantine iconographic conventions.21 The textile was discovered in a 1978 excavation in Kalmykia, within the Russian North Caucasus. The embroidery, probably originally an altar frontal or a podea for an icon, was cut into irregular pieces and used to adorn a set of Mongol trousers.22 Although the inscriptions are now very fragmentary, it is possible to determine that they were in Church Slavonic rather than Greek. Petrov has noted that these fragments show the use of underside couching, which is indicated by the loops raised on the back side of the silk tabby ground fabric (Fig. 5a‑b).

Figure 5. Fragment of embroidery of the Ascension of Christ, obverse (a) and reverse (b), attrib. Kyivan Rus’ (?), 12th or early 13th century

Figure 5. Fragment of embroidery of the Ascension of Christ, obverse (a) and reverse (b), attrib. Kyivan Rus’ (?), 12th or early 13th century

From grave Guva 2 (Mongol period, late 13th early 14th century), in Kalmykia, Russian Federation. Image: Zvezdana Dode.

  • 23 Petrov, 2014, p. 72.
  • 24 Kondakov, 1896, p. 139; Korzukhina, 1954, p. 118‑119. St. Petersburg, State Russian Museum, inv. n (...)

10Petrov attributes the piece to the period prior to the Mongol invasion of the region, that is, to the twelfth century or beginning of the thirteenth century.23 This object is surely not the only example of underside couching to survive from pre‑Mongol Rus’. A small fragment (about 4 cm long) with underside-couched gold threads made of silver-gilt foil wrapped around a reddish silk core, is preserved among the twelfth-century objects from the Kylv Treasure of 1889, now in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.24

  • 25 Woodfin, Rassamakin & Holod, 2010. Other archaelogical finds of underside couching from the Gródek (...)

11Other examples of underside couching have come to light through archaeological investigation. The 1981 excavations at the Chungul Kurgan in southern Ukraine revealed an extraordinary trove of embroidered garments in the burial of a steppe nomadic ruler.25 The deceased was dressed for his burial in both an inner and an outer caftan, and several other robes were placed in the grave with him for his use in the afterlife. The outer caftan on the body itself bore an elaborate band of embroidery extending down the front of the garment and around the shoulders and cuffs (Fig. 6).

Figure 6. Detail of embroidered decoration on burial caftan, attrib. Byzantium or neighboring polity, late 12th early 13th century

Figure 6. Detail of embroidered decoration on burial caftan, attrib. Byzantium or neighboring polity, late 12th early 13th century

From 13th century burial at the Chungul Kurgan, near Zamozhne, Ukraine. Image: © Chungul Kurgan Project. Photographer Yuriy Rassamakin.

  • 26 The silver-gilt foil of the gold threads is wrapped Z on a single S‑twisted thread. The whole asse (...)

12This band was divided into panels separated by rows of metallic braid created from twisted pairs of metallic threads sewn down side-by-side to create a plait-like effect. This same braid, together with pearl stringing, was looped around silver-gilt plaques to create intricate, quatrefoil-shaped knots. Between these, roundels approximately 4 cm in diameter contain individual embroidered faces against a gold background. Examination of the reverse side of the embroidery shows that, while the braid and the pearl stringing were surface couched, the roundels’ background of gold threads was executed with underside couching.26 On the obverse side, the couching stitches are spaced 3 mm apart and are offset by half of their length from one row to the next (Fig. 7).

Figure 7. Detail of embroidered roundels on burial caftan from the Chungul Kurgan

Figure 7. Detail of embroidered roundels on burial caftan from the Chungul Kurgan

© Chungul Kurgan Project. Photographer Dmytro Klochko.

13The precise spacing of the couching stitches evidently results from the counting of the threads of the base textile, and the couching threads pull the gold completely through to the back of the textile, making this an example of underside couching. The couching thread consists of a double ply of silk, Z-twisted, its two strands plied S (Fig. 8).

Figure 8. Detail of reverse side of embroidered roundels on burial caftan from the Chungul Kurgan

Figure 8. Detail of reverse side of embroidered roundels on burial caftan from the Chungul Kurgan

© Chungul Kurgan Project. Photographer Dmytro Klochko.

14This stands in contrast to the linen thread normally used for underside couching in opus anglicanum and seen in other, non‑English examples, including the Mantle of Philip of Swabia.

15Another of the garments buried with the “prince” from the Chungul Kurgan was ornamented with a complex pattern of interlaced quatrefoils with an embroidered palmette motif at the center of each, alternating with canted and foliated square motifs with a bird at the center (Fig. 9).

Figure 9. Embroidered quatrefoil decoration from caftan found next to the body in the Chungul Kurgan burial

Figure 9. Embroidered quatrefoil decoration from caftan found next to the body in the Chungul Kurgan burial

Image: © Chungul Kurgan Project. Photographer Yuriy Rassamakin

  • 27 D’Archangelo, 2006. The pattern can be compared with the “Griffin and panther” patterns frequently (...)

16As with the embroideries on the burial caftan, the gold threads are underside couched to the unpatterned samite supporting textile. The general program of embroidered decoration, with its linked medallions resembling repeating motifs in a figured woven textile, recalls the yellow silk dossal from the basilica of San Francesco in Assisi, another work that features the underside couching technique (Fig. 10).27

Figure 10. Embroidered decoration of yellow dossal from treasury of San Francesco, Assisi

Figure 10. Embroidered decoration of yellow dossal from treasury of San Francesco, Assisi

Image: © Archivio fotografico del Sacro Convento di S. Francesco in Assisi, Italia.

  • 28 Von Wilckens, 1995, p. 281.

17The oldest inventory that lists this dossal, drawn up in 1338, lists it as the gift of the “Imperator graecorum” – possibly referring to the Latin Emperor of Constantinople, Baldwin ii (1228‑1261).28 This hint at an eastern Mediterranean provenance for the dossal supports the possibility that it was embroidered not in Sicily – as its similarities to the Norman coronation regalia have led others to suggest – but in Constantinople during its Crusader interregnum.

Conclusions

  • 29 Járó, 2006, p. 596‑599.

18What emerges from this survey of twelfth and thirteenth‑century embroideries is that technique was variable from workshop to workshop and even within workshops. While several of the gold embroideries associated with the Norman court of Palermo utilize underside couching, not all do. Similarly, we have a number of Byzantine embroideries that have survived either in Western European church treasuries (the Halberstadt aeres, the orphrey of the Eichstätt chasuble, etc.) or in archaeological contexts (the bishop’s vestments from Khardzhali in Bulgaria) that do not feature underside couching, but several embroideries of Byzantine or Kyivan Rus’ origin have recently come to light that reveal knowledge of this technique. We cannot, therefore, assume the consistent use of either surface or underside couching as an identifying feature for the production of any given center. One of the insights that came across in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s 2016 Opus Anglicanum exhibition was that surface couching was often used for more time-sensitive (generally secular) commissions, even by the English embroiders who most excelled at underside couching. Similarly, Márta Járó has noted the coexistence of two types of metallic threads among the embroideries of the Norman royal regalia: some with foil wrapping and others with a leather substrate in imitation of Central Asian examples.29 In other words, expecting total consistency of technique from a single center of production may be a mistake.

  • 30 Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, KG 562. Von Wilckens, 1986, 1991b; 1995, p. 383.

19Leonie von Wilckens has identified as the oldest surviving example of underside couching the embroidery of the reverse side of a reliquary pouch, once in the collection of the bishop of Hildesheim, now in the Germanisches National Museum in Nuremberg (Fig. 11).30

Figure 11. Reliquary pouch, attrib. Trier, ca. 993. Gilded silver thread embroidery with silver-gilt plaques, pearls, and gems on silk twill textile ground

Figure 11. Reliquary pouch, attrib. Trier, ca. 993. Gilded silver thread embroidery with silver-gilt plaques, pearls, and gems on silk twill textile ground

Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Inv. no. KG 562. Image: Germanisches National Museum.

  • 31 Chatzidakis et al., 1964, p. 474; Schuette & Müller‑Christensen, 1963, p. 30.
  • 32 Von Wilckens, 1986, p. 22‑23.
  • 33 Maué & Kupper, 1997, p. 29.

20Although the reliquary pouch has been previously published as a Byzantine work of the eleventh or twelfth century,31 Von Wilckens reattributed it to Ottonian Trier, ca. 993, linking its appliqued gold decoration to the settings of the gems on the shrine of St. Egbert at Trier;32 this is now the attribution and dating used by the German National Museum in its guidebook.33 Von Wilckens pointed out that there are no other reliquary pouches attributed to Byzantium, and the presence of the Greek abbreviation IC XC for Jesus Christ on the reverse side in no way guarantees a Byzantine provenance.

  • 34 Járó, Tóth & Gondár, 1990, p. 301.
  • 35 A number of Eastern Mediterranean silks dated to the twelfth century survive in Hildesheim. See Sc (...)

21On the other hand, much about the reliquary’s embroidery remains strikingly Byzantine in appearance. In particular, the obverse side’s decoration, consisting of braids and knot motifs made from strands of twined gold threads combined with pearls and silver-gilt plaques, bears a striking similarity to the applied ornaments of the burial caftan from the Chungul Kurgan. Testing of the gold threads used on the pouch show them to be gilded silver, which would make them of the very few known examples of silver-gilt embroidery threads from a piece dated to the first millennium CE.34 It is well worth considering, then, whether rather than being a precocious example of underside couching in tenth century Germany, the pouch from Hildesheim might have originated as a product of Byzantine or even Latin-ruled Constantinople in the twelfth or thirteenth century.35 Although the evidence is scattered and fragmentary, it now seems that we can assert that Byzantium was indeed acquainted with underside couching, however brief its moment of experimentation with the technique may have been.

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Bibliographie

Books

Chatzidakis Manolis et al., 1964, Byzantine Art: An European Art. Department of Antiquities and Archaeological Restoration, Athens.

Clari Robert de, 1969, The Conquest of Constantinople; Trans. by Holmes McNeal Edgar, Norton, New York.

Coatsworth Elisabeth & OwenCrocker Gail, 2018, Clothing the Past: Surviving Garments from Early Medieval to Early Modern Western Europe, Brill, Leiden, 454 p.

FluryLemberg Mechtild, 1988, Textile Conservation and Research, Abegg‑Stiftung, Bern, 532 p.

Herget Mélanie et al., 2011, Des Kaisers letzte Kleider, Neue Forschungen zu den organischen Funden aus den Herrschergräbern im Dom zu Speyer, Historisches Museum der Pfalz, Speyer, 240 p.

Johnstone Pauline, 1967, The Byzantine Tradition in Church Embroidery, Alec Tiranti, London.

Kondakov Nikodim, 1896, Russkie klady: izsledovanie drevnosteĭ velikokniazheskago perioda [Trésors russes: une étude des antiquités de la période grand-princière], Izdatel’stvo Imperatorskoĭ arkheologicheskoĭ kommissii, St. Petersburg.

Korzukhina Galja, 1954, Russkie klady ixxiii vv [Trésors russes des ixxiiie siècles], Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk SSSR, Moscow and Leningrad.

Maué Hermann & Kupper Christine, 1997, Schätze und Meilensteine deutscher Geschicthe aus dem Germanischen National Museum in Nürnberg. Germanischen Nationalmuseums Nürnberg, Nuremberg, 216 p.

Meller Harald, Mundt Ingo & Schmuhl Boje, 2008, Der heilige Schatz im Dom zu Halberstadt, Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg, 436 p.

Schorta Regula, 2001, Monochrome Seidengewebe des hohen Mittelalters. Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, Berlin, 369 p.

Schramm Percy Ernst & Mütherich Florentine, 1962, Denkmale der deutschen Könige und Kaiser, Prestel, Munich, 385 p.

Schuette Marie & MüllerChristensen Sigrid, 1963, Das Stickereiwerk. Wasmuth, Tübingen, 296 p.

Sinkević Ida, 2000, The Church of St. Panteleimon at Nerezi, Reichert, Wiesbaden, 209 p.

Vocotopoulos Panayotis, 2002, Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Athens & Jerusalem.

Von Wilckens, Leonie, 1991; Die textilen Künste: von der Spätantike bis um 1500. C. H. Beck, Munich, 428 p.

Papers and contributions to books

Bacci Michele, 2008, “Funerary Cloth with Othon de Grandson and the Virgin and Christ”, in Cormack Robin & Vassilaki Maria, Byzantium, 3301453. Royal Academy of Arts, London, cat. no 256, 496 p.

Bauer R., 2006, “Frammento del cosidetto cappuccio di re Stefano d’Ungheria”, in Andaloro Maria, Nobiles Officinae: perle, filigrane e trame di seta dal Palazzo Reale di Palermo, 2 vols, Maimone, Catania, vol. i, p. 399, cat. no VI.12, 1312 p.

Blocher Heidi, 2011, „Des Kaisers neue Kleider. Zu Schmuckformen und zur Herkunft kostbarer Herrschergewänder“, in Herget Melanie et al., Des Kaisers letzte Kleider. Neue Forschungen zu den organischen Funden aus den Herrschergräbern im Dom zu Speyer, Historisches Museum der Pfalz, Speyer, p. 121‑127, 224 p.

Bolman Elisabeth, 2016, “The Iconography of Salvation”, in Bolman Elisabeth, The Red Monastery Church: Beauty and Asceticism in Upper Egypt. Yale University Press, New Haven, p. 128‑149.

Cybulska Maria, Marciniak Magdalena & Sielski Jan, 2018, “The Early Medieval Textile Finds from Gródek upon the Bug River: An Analysis of Materials, Manufacturing Techniques and Origin”, in Wołoszyn Marcin, The Early Medieval Settlement Complex at Gródek upon the Bug River in the Light of Results from Past Research (1952-1955), Leipziger Universitätsverlag, Leipzig, p. 735-799.

D’Archangelo E., 2006, “Dossale con grifi e volatili”, in Andaloro Maria, Nobiles Officinae: perle, filigrane e trame di seta dal Palazzo Reale di Palermo. 2 vols. Maimone, Catania, vol. i, p. 395‑397, cat. no VI.10, 1312 p.

Dode Zvezdana, 2014. “Tkan s khristianskoĭ simvolikoĭ v kostiume zolotoordinskoĭ elity” [Tissu avec symboles chrétiens dans un costume de l’élite de la Horde d’or], Rossiskaia arkheologiia, no 1, p. 54‑66.

Járó Marta, 2006, “I filati d’oro: tecniche e metodologie”, in Andoloro Maria, Nobiles Officinae: perle, filigrane e trame di seta dal Palazzo Reale di Palermo. 2 vols. Maimone, Catania, vol. 2, p. 163‑169.

Járó Marta, Tóth Attila & Gondár Erzsébet, 1990, “Determination of the Manufacturing Technique of a 10th Century Metal Thread”, in ICOM Committee for Conservation, 9th Triennial Meeting: Dresden, German Democratic Republic, 2631 August, 1990: preprints, ICOM Committee for Conservation, Los Angeles, p. 299‑301.

Lalli G. 2006, “Mantello di Filippo ii di Svevia”, in Andaloro Maria, Nobiles Officinae: perle, filigrane e trame di seta dal Palazzo Reale di Palermo. 2 vols. Maimone, Catania, vol. i, p. 117, cat. no ii.3.

Lemberg Mechtild, 1957-1958, „Zum Antependium von Grandson“, Jahrbuch des Bernischen Historichen Museums, vols. 37/38, p. 143‑165.

Martiniani-Reber Marielle, 2006, « Antependium de Grandson », in Campagnolo Matteo, Chypre: d’Aphrodite à Mélusine, Skira, Milan, p. 153‑154, cat. no 182.

Martiniani-Reber Marielle, 2007, “An Exceptional Piece of Embroidery Held in Switzerland: The Grandson Antependium”, in Campagnolo Matteo
et al., From Aphrodite to Melusine: Reflections on the Archaeology and the History of Cyprus, La Pomme d’Or, Geneva, p. 85‑89.

Monnas Lisa, 2016, “The Making of Medieval Embroidery”, in Browne Claire, Davies Glyn & Michael M. A., Opus Anglicanum: English Medieval Embroidery, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, p. 7‑23, p. 324.

MüllerChristensen Sigrid, Kubach Hans Erich & Stein Günther, 1972, „Die Gräber im Königschor“, in Kubach Hans Erich & Haas Walter, Der Dom zu Speyer. 3 vols., Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich, vol. I, p. 923‑1024.

Muthesius Anna, 2013, “Textiles as Text”, in James Liz & Eastmond Antony, Wonderful things: Byzantium through its art, papers from the 42nd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, London, 2022 March 2009, Farnham, Ashgate, p. 185‑202.

Petrov Arseniy, 2014, “Tkan s shitym obrazom vozneseniia iz pogrebeniia kochevnika v Kalmykii: Problemy atributsii” [Tissu avec l’image brodée de l’ascension de l’enterrement d’un nomade en Kalmoukie: problèmes d’attribution], Rossiskaia arkheologiia, no 1, p. 67‑74.

Tekampe Ludger, 2011, „Philipp von Schwaben (11981208)“, in Herget Melanie et al., Des Kaisers letzte Kleider. Neue Forschungen zu den organischen Funden aus den Herrschergräbern im Dom zu Speyer, Historisches Museum der Pfalz, Speyer, p. 196‑211.

Teteriatnikov Natalia, 1995, “The True Cross Flanked by Constantine and Helena. A Study in the Light of the Post-Iconoclastic Reevaluation of the Cross”, Deltion tes Christianikes Archaiologikes Etaireias, vol. 18, p. 169‑188.

Weller Tobias, 2010, „Staufische Heiratspolitik im europäischen Kontext“, in Weinfurter Stefan et al. Die Staufer und Italien. Drei Innovationsregionen im mittelalterlichen Europa. 2 vols. Curt-Engelhorn-Stiftung, Mannheim, vol. i, p. 97‑106.

Von Wilckens Léonie, 1986, „Ein Reliquienbeutel des Bischofs Eduard Jakob von Hildesheim“, Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, p. 19‑25.

Von Wilckens Leonie, 1991, „Reliquienbeutel“ in Brandt M., Schatzkammer auf Zeit : die Sammlungen des Bischofs Eduard Jakob Wedekin, 17961870 : Katalog zur Ausstellung des Diözesan-Museums Hildesheim, Diözesan Museum Hildesheim, Hildesheim, p. 164‑166.

Von Wilckens Leonie, 1995, „Byzantinische, griechische, sizilische, italienische und andere Stickereien des 12. und 13. Jahrhunderts”, in Borkopp Birgit, Schellewald Barbara, Theis Lioba, Studien zur byzantinischen Kunstgeschichte. Festschrift für Horst Hallensleben zum 65. Geburtstag. Hakkert, Amsterdam, p. 279‑289.

Woodfin Warren, Rassamakin Yuriy, Holod Renata, 2010, “Foreign Vesture and Nomadic Identity on the Black Sea Littoral in the Early Thirteenth Century: Costume from the Chungul Kurgan”, Ars Orientalis, vol. 38, p. 155‑186.

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Notes

1 Schuette & Müller‑Christensen, 1963, p. 12; Monnas, 2016, p. 12.

2 Johnstone, 1967, p. 67.

3 On the other hand, the absence of underside couching is used to argue a Byzantine attribution in the case of the embroidered roundels on a maniple from Halberstadt Cathedral (Meller, Mundt & Schmuhl, 2008, p. 212).

4 London, Victoria and Albert Museum, T.92-1969. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O93469/embroidered-panel-unknown/ Last accessed 12 August 2019.

5 Flury-Lemberg, 1988, p. 107-111 & p. 460, cat. no. 2; Martiniani-Reber, 2006 & 2007; Bacci, 2008; Muthesius, 2013, p. 195-196.

6 The altar, made of black Saint-Tryphon marble, is now in Berne. Personal communication with Marielle Martiniani-Reber, 2 February 2020.

7 1957/58; cited in Martiniani-Reber, 2007, p. 86-87.

8 A pair of censing archangels, holding thuribles of the short-chained type familiar from Late Antiquity, appear flanking the Virgin and Child in the paintings of the third phase (dated ca. 550-600) in the northern semidome of the Red Monastery, near Sohag, Egypt. Angels in deaconal dress carrying censers figure in the four subsidiary domes of the Church of St. Panteleimon at Nerezi, dated by inscription to 1164. At the late 11th or early 12th century Panagia Mavriotissa at Kastoria, a pair of angels vested as deacons swing censers on either side of an image of the True Cross on the west wall of the naos. The liturgical roll Stavrou 109, dated on stylistic grounds to the late 11th century, shows the archangels Uriel and Raphel waving censers on either side of the column of text, although it is significant that they are shown dressed as deacons rather than in the loros typical for archangels, as is the case with the Grandson Antependium. Another censing angel, designated simply as ἄγγελος Κ[υρίο]υ, appears in the context of the heavenly liturgy scene that ornaments the prayer of the Proskomide. See, respectively, Bolman, 2016, p. 14­2‑144, Figs. 10.19, 10.21, 10.22; Sinkević, 2000, p. 40, pl. 12, 14, 26, 27; Teteriatnikov, 1995, p. 179, Fig. 9; Vocotopoulos, 2002, p. 101, 107, Figs. 46, 50. I would like to thank Catherine Fernandez of the Index of Medieval Art at Princeton, Vasileios Marinis, and Courtney Tomaselli for these references.

9 Martiniani-Reber, 2007, p. 85, n 3. There is a mistake in the technical information given, where “underside couching” is reported erroneously for the central section; other published sources, including Martiniani-Reber herself, agree that the central portion is surface-couched exclusively. The same error appears in the French text of the exhibition catalogue itself, where “Broderie au point couché retiré” is mistakenly repeated for both the central and flanking panels of the antependium. The error is repeated in Muthesius, 2013, p. 195‑196. Schuette and Müller‑Christensen attribute the central panel tentatively to South Italy, Sicily, or perhaps Venice; more recently, Leonie von Wilckens and Marielle Martiniani‑Reber have favored an attribution of the central panel to Cyprus (von Wilckens, 1995, p. 279‑289).

10 Schuette & Müller‑Christensen, 1963, p. 31, no. 99; Flury‑Lemberg, 1988, p. 107.

11 Müller‑Christensen, Kubach & Stein, 1972, p. 959‑960; Lalli, 2006, p. 117; Tekampe, 2011, p. 196. Speyer, Domschatzkammer im Historischen Museum der Pfalz, inv. Nr. D 332.

12 Since the restoration campaign of 1960, the embroideries have been protected under gauze (Tekampe, 2011, p. 197).

13 A similar motif occurs in the borders of the medallion of a silk lampas sewn as the “curtain” over a miniature in New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M. 709, fol. 78r (Schorta, 2001, p. 276, cat. no. 144). Compare also the border motif on the miniature of the Evangelist Mark in an early 13th century Greek Book of Gospels in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, MS Tapou 60, fol. 77v (Vocotopoulos, 2002, p. 56, Fig. 22).

14 Herget et al., 2011, p. 224.

15 Schuette & Müller‑Christensen, 1963, p. 29; Schramm & Mütherich, 1962, p. 185‑187.

16 Von Wilckens, 1991, p. 184; 1995, p. 279. In her 1995 article, p. 282, von Wilckens attributes a second group of embroideries with underside couching to central Italy, although this thesis is contested by Rotraud Bauer (2006, p. 399, cat. no. VI.12).

17 Coatsworth & Owen‑Crocker, 2018, p. 91‑92.

18 Blocher, 2011, p. 126.

19 Robert de Clari, 1969, p. 45‑46.

20 Weller, 2010, p. 100‑101.

21 Dode, 2014, no. 1, p. 54‑66; Petrov, 2014, no. 1, p. 67‑74.

22 Dode, 2014, p. 55‑56.

23 Petrov, 2014, p. 72.

24 Kondakov, 1896, p. 139; Korzukhina, 1954, p. 118‑119. St. Petersburg, State Russian Museum, inv. no. БК‑2763G. The present author had the opportunity to examine the textile fragment in person in November 2007.

25 Woodfin, Rassamakin & Holod, 2010. Other archaelogical finds of underside couching from the Gródek on the Bug River in Eastern Poland, excavated in 1952-1955 have been recently published in Cybulska, Marciniak & Sielski, 2018.

26 The silver-gilt foil of the gold threads is wrapped Z on a single S‑twisted thread. The whole assembled thread measures 12 mm in diameter, and there are 8 twists of the gold foil per mm. For comparison, see Járo, 2006, p. 163‑169.

27 D’Archangelo, 2006. The pattern can be compared with the “Griffin and panther” patterns frequently seen in textiles of the eleventh century, such as the vestments from the grave of Pope Clement ii. See Schorta, 2001, p. 104‑119.

28 Von Wilckens, 1995, p. 281.

29 Járó, 2006, p. 596‑599.

30 Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, KG 562. Von Wilckens, 1986, 1991b; 1995, p. 383.

31 Chatzidakis et al., 1964, p. 474; Schuette & Müller‑Christensen, 1963, p. 30.

32 Von Wilckens, 1986, p. 22‑23.

33 Maué & Kupper, 1997, p. 29.

34 Járó, Tóth & Gondár, 1990, p. 301.

35 A number of Eastern Mediterranean silks dated to the twelfth century survive in Hildesheim. See Schorta, 2001, p. 234‑246, cat. nos. 96, 101, 103, 104, 107.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Diagram of underside couching technique
Crédits Image : redrawn by Jacqui Hopely Monkell.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 101k
Titre Figure 2. Embroidered panel, attrib. Venice, ca. 1325. Embroidered silk in metal thread and silks, lined with linen and silk velvet
Crédits Victoria and Albert Museum, London, T.92-1969. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 761k
Titre Figure 3. Grandson antependium, central portion attrib. to Cyprus, last quarter of 13th century; side panels attrib. England, early 14th century. Gilded silver thread and colored silk thread embroidery on a tabby (central panel) or twill (side panels) silk textile ground
Crédits © Bernisches Historisches Museum, Bern. Photograph Nadja Frey.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 266k
Titre Figure 4. Embroidered roundels from mantle of Philip of Swabia, attrib. Byzantium or Sicily, last quarter of the 12th century
Crédits Domschatz, Historisches Museum zu Pfalz, Speyer, Inv. no. D 332. Image: Historisches Museum zu Pfalz, Speyer. Photographer: Peter Haag-Kirchner.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 575k
Titre Figure 5. Fragment of embroidery of the Ascension of Christ, obverse (a) and reverse (b), attrib. Kyivan Rus’ (?), 12th or early 13th century
Crédits From grave Guva 2 (Mongol period, late 13th early 14th century), in Kalmykia, Russian Federation. Image: Zvezdana Dode.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 69k
Titre Figure 6. Detail of embroidered decoration on burial caftan, attrib. Byzantium or neighboring polity, late 12th early 13th century
Crédits From 13th century burial at the Chungul Kurgan, near Zamozhne, Ukraine. Image: © Chungul Kurgan Project. Photographer Yuriy Rassamakin.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 130k
Titre Figure 7. Detail of embroidered roundels on burial caftan from the Chungul Kurgan
Crédits © Chungul Kurgan Project. Photographer Dmytro Klochko.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 123k
Titre Figure 8. Detail of reverse side of embroidered roundels on burial caftan from the Chungul Kurgan
Crédits © Chungul Kurgan Project. Photographer Dmytro Klochko.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 165k
Titre Figure 9. Embroidered quatrefoil decoration from caftan found next to the body in the Chungul Kurgan burial
Crédits Image: © Chungul Kurgan Project. Photographer Yuriy Rassamakin
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 345k
Titre Figure 10. Embroidered decoration of yellow dossal from treasury of San Francesco, Assisi
Crédits Image: © Archivio fotografico del Sacro Convento di S. Francesco in Assisi, Italia.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 321k
Titre Figure 11. Reliquary pouch, attrib. Trier, ca. 993. Gilded silver thread embroidery with silver-gilt plaques, pearls, and gems on silk twill textile ground
Crédits Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Inv. no. KG 562. Image: Germanisches National Museum.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/docannexe/image/18337/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 76k
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Référence électronique

Warren T. Woodfin, « Underside Couching in the Byzantine World »Cahiers balkaniques [En ligne], 48 | 2021, mis en ligne le 17 décembre 2021, consulté le 16 janvier 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ceb/18337 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/ceb.18337

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Warren T. Woodfin

Queens College, City University of New York

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