Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Creating Textiles: Makers, Methods, Markets. Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Inc. New York, NY, September 23–26, 1998 (Earleville, MD: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1999).


Copyright © 1998 by the author(s)



The city of Salamanca, capital of the province of the same name, is situated in western Spain. Salamanca was famous during the Renaissance due to its prestigious University founded by King Alphonse IX in the Thirteenth century. The city of Salamanca is also known for its famous architectural and historical landmarks, especially its characteristic Plateresque Style, a decorative technique of shallow relief and intricate detail named for its resemblance to the art of the platero (silversmith). The most representative building is the entrance to the University, which symbolize the great renown of Salamanca in the Sixteenth century. Moreover, Salamanca has an exceptional ecclesiastical architectural heritage, represented by the many churches and convents built during the Renaissance.

Embroiderers were the Renaissance artists who decorated liturgical vestments. Liturgical embroidery was a form of art in high demand during the Sixteenth century, not only because of the great number of churches built but also because of the number of liturgical vestments required for each specific ceremony and individually for each participant ofthe ceremony, as well. Liturgical vestments observed a very precise dress code specific in colors, fabrics, embroidery, and iconography. Therefore, the number of embroiderers in Salamanca during the Renaissance was very high and the quality of ecclesiastical embroidery was at its highest point. Salamanca's liturgical vestments were embellished with the highest quality silk and gold threads. Massive use of gold threads for the background is characteristic of these embroideries.

Today, some of Salamanca's churches and convents still hold magnificent examples of ecclesiastical vestments made in local workshops. Besides the embroidered vestments found in the churches, the main source of information for the study of artistic embroidery is the historical documentation preserved in the archives. The extraordinary amount of artistic documents that can be found in Salamanca's local ecclesiastical and civil archives confirmes the high quality and richness that this art achieved in Salamanca; and the important role played, both artistically and socially, by the embroiderers