(Re)using Byzantine textiles: adapting and reinventing material identities through the connected Mediterranean, seventh–twelfth centuries

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Mediaeval textiles, like all objects, had a life cycle. They were made, consumed, and ultimately, discarded. As items of adornment, they were a visual means of projecting identity. They could also be highly consequential commodities, fostering interaction across cultural boundaries, particularly the luxury fabrics sought after by elites. And while all mediaeval societies produced textiles, the acts of recycling and reuse, circumstances of preservation, and modern attitudes towards the material have resulted in large chronological and geographic ‘gaps’ in the data available to modern scholars. As a result, discussions of textile mobility have tended to focus on the spread of styles and motifs rather than on the objects themselves, as the physical remains tend to lack context, rather than on the social implications of these exchanges. One region of the mediaeval world, however, whose textiles survive in collections across the globe, is Byzantium. This paper will trace movement of Byzantine silk textiles from east to west to examine the processes through which these textiles acquired new meaning outside of their original cultural contexts, and perpetuated cycles of reuse and reinvention across cultures and classes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTravelling matters
Subtitle of host publicationrereading, reshaping, reusing objects across the Mediterranean
Place of PublicationTurnhout
PublisherBrepols Publishers
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Sept 2023

Keywords

  • Byzantium
  • Clergy
  • Diplomacy
  • Dress
  • Gift giving
  • Ideology
  • Silk
  • Textiles
  • Trade
  • Vestments
  • Western Europe

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