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).


A magnificent embroidered tunic was found in 1968 at the Monastery of OÒa in Burgos, Spain (one of the richest and most influential monasteries during the Iberian Medieval period). The significance and great value of this embroidery, produced in al-Andalus, is threefold: 1) Its high material value: made of silk and gold of extremely high quality. 2) Its visual value, which includes Arabic inscriptions (eulogies and qur'anic verses) and the iconography of a royal figure and sixty-six animals. 3) Its historical value: used and reused by Andalusi and Castilian rulers, the embroidery is an unexpected witness of the political relationships between these two contexts. However, despite its historical and artistic value, this piece remains unknown and has not been given its rightful prominent place in the history and culture of the Iberian Peninsula. My contribution: 1) Presents new data based on iconographic analysis and documentary sources, which determine with high certainty the identity of the figure of the embroidery and its production and use under the Andalusi Umayad Caliphate as a prestigious robe of honour. 2) Explores the embroidery's various biographies within Muslim and Christian courts revealing a complex framework of relationships between Andalusi and Castilian political elites (10th- 11th centuries); and focus on how the materiality of the embroidery illustrates political and cultural aspects of Islamic civilization within al-Andalus, which in turn helps to understand the aspects which brought cross-cultural-dressing to the Castilian milieu.