Robes and Fabrics - Mongolian Robe

ISilk brocade or lampas 
Size: Length: 140 cm
Origin and time: Mesopotamia or Iran, 13th Century
Catalogue: Schätze des Aga Khan Museum, AKTC
Inv. No. AKM 00677

This waisted robe with a wide (A-line) skirt, fastened at the right side with tiny buttons, is a remarkable example of a festive medieval Islamic garment. Similar robes are illustrated in numerous Mongolian albums, all with long sleeves and buttons on the right side. The long sleeves were pushed up. Such robes were worn underneath a wide sleeveless coat, also closed with ribbons on the right side. Without a coat they were in all probability worn only at mourning sessions.

The robe shown here was no doubt a ceremonial dress. The complex texture, probably a lampas tissue made of silk would place the object in a group of dresses referred to as panni tartarici in medieval European inventories, documented during the period 1295 to 1380. Since these inventories do not offer any further details it is fairly difficult to assign an individual piece to a production centre. The pattern belongs to a special group of medallion motifs requiring a partition into different fields of decoration – as recorded in the inventory of Pope Clemes V, with but two differences: the usually shown figurative motifs are missing and there is a pseudo inscription in light colours contrasting with the basic colour of the dress. The materials used are found in secular and ecclesiastical collections in western countries and influenced gothic silk patterns in Italy. The robe demonstrates the Chinese influence on Islam on the one hand and convincingly illustrates the valuable impetus Islamic art had on the production of luxury textures in Europe on the other.(SM)