Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 by the author(s).


Carpets of the Iberian Peninsula, woven in the 15th and 16th centuries, represent diverse cultural traditions at a time of great political transformation. With the fall of Granada in 1492, Christian dominion was firmly reestablished. Despite radical shifts in patronage from Muslim to Christian in previous centuries, the weaving of carpets with wool pile seems to have flourished in established production centers. Following the Arab and Berber conquests of Andalusia in the early 8th century, there is scant evidence for rug-weaving but a significant group of carpets survives from the 15th century, which stylistically reflects earlier traditions of carpet-weaving from Turkey, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Iberian carpets of the 16th century herald styles of the Renaissance, reflecting the cultural reorientation of the Iberian Peninsula from the Islamic east to an emerging Europe. Carpets, today preserved in museum collections, exhibit design elements that draw from local Iberian sources and patterns of Roman pavements, as well as from motifs associated with Christian art and Islamic geometric interlace. Despite the diversity of sources and the blending of cultural traditions, Iberian carpets bear a unique weave structure based upon a single-warp knot and multiple wefts, which distinguishes this weaving tradition from all others. Based on analysis of weave structure and design in Iberian carpets at The Textile Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Hispanic Society of America, this paper seeks to document the ways in which carpets mark the complexities of cultural and political transformations that led to the making of modern Spain.