Ostarrichislam - Burial robe of Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria

Catalogue: Ostarrichislam - Fragmente achthundertjähriger gemeinsamer Geschichte. Amena Shakir / Gernot Galib Stanfel / Martin M. Weinberger 2012 Vienna: Al Hamra

Duke Rudolf IV, also known as 'the Founder' (1339 – 1365), was a Christian ruler and a figure of great importance in Austrian history. Therefore, it is all the more remarkable that he should be buried in an extremely rare golden mantle, adorned with Arabic inscriptions. 

Rudolf IV was a resolute Habsburg striving to enhance his home country´s reputation: he initiated the construction of the University of Vienna and provided for the extension of the church of St. Stephen, which earned him the epithet 'the Founder'. In addition, he consolidated and extended the Hapsburgs' domain and the religious importance of the country.

When Rudolf IV died in Milan, at a relatively early age, he was brought back to Austria and laid to rest in St. Stephen's cathedral, covered with the 'Viennese shroud', an extraordinary example of Islamic textile art adorned with historical Arabic inscriptions celebrating Ilkhan Abu Sa´id, a Mongol Islamic ruler of Persia (1305 -1335). The precious garment made of silk interwoven with golden threads was produced in Iran between 1319 and 1335. Such golden vestments were often bestowed upon dignitaries as 'Robes of honour'.

Furthermore, Rudolf IV 'the Founder' was also a great collector of relics. Thus also two magnificent glass amphorae of Syrian origin were taken to Vienna as putative martyr relics containing "children´s blood-sodden soil". The amphorae were stolen from a mosque during the Crusades and bear golden ornaments and an Arabic calligraphy enunciating "Glory to our Sultan, to our Sultan, to our Sultan".