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Creator Name: Unknown
Creator Nationality: Asian; Central Asian
Creator Name-CRT: Central Asia, mid-13th century
Title: Cloth of Gold: Winged Lions and Griffins
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1240
Creation End Date: 1260
Creation Date: c. 1240 - 1260
Object Type: Textiles
Materials and Techniques: lampas, silk and gold thread
Dimensions: Overall: 124cm x 48.8cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1989.50
Credit Line: Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
Context: Beginning in 1211, Genghis Khan invaded the Jin Empire, then proceeded across Central Asia to conquer eastern Iran and the territories east of the Oxus River (today Amu Darya) known as Transoxiana. The artisans and master craftsmen from conquered citieswere enslaved and distributed among members of the Khan's family and distinguished generals. The nomadic Mongols took these artisans, who fashioned luxury items and other highly desirable articles, to cities in Mongolia and eastern Central Asia. Historical accounts and travel narratives of the period mention them, yet little has survived of the objects, particularly the textiles, they produced.This magnificent cloth of gold is one of the few silk and gold textiles that can be associated with those craftsmen. It is woven with pairs of winged lions within aligned, tangent roundels and pairs of griffins in the interstices. The background is densely filled with scrolling vines and palmettes. Both the overall design and the animals are Persian; yet the cloud-like ornamentation of the lions' wings, the cloud scrolls at the terminals of the vines filling the background of the roundels, and the dragons' heads at the ends of the lions' tails are based on Chinese models. The synthesis of Eastern and Western elements is purely Central Asian, which is not surprising considering that captive craftsmen from the former Jin territories were working in the same cities as the captured artisans from eastern Persia and Transoxiana. The density of its design and the fact that the design was entirely woven with gold thread are characteristic of textiles produced during the Mongol period.The artistic and technical quality of this textile is unsurpassed among the silk and gold textiles that have survived from the early Mongolperiod. Given that it was once preserved in a Tibetan monastery, this textile was probably woven during the middle of the thirteenth century. The Mongols only began to make contact with Tibet in 1240 and did not sign a treaty until 1247. In honor of thatoccasion, gold, silver, and two hundred precious robes were given as imperial gifts to Tibetan monasteries. A few years later, starting in 1251, members of Genghis Khan's family began to patronize different Tibetan sects, which involved presenting gifts that, in those days, always included precious textiles. A textile of the extraordinary quality and value of this cloth of gold would almost certainly have reached Tibet as an imperial gift. A.W.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1989.50
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art
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