07 May, 2013

Stockings Shown in a Tapestry Could be Språng Construction

There is a tapestry, The Last Supper in the Robert Leman collection, shown in Christa C. Mayer Thurman's The Robert Leman Collection Vol 14 European Textiles (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001), pages 16-21, www.metmuseum.org/research/metpublications/The_Robert_Lehman_Collection_Vol_14_European_Textiles

According to the publication, the tapestry probably dates to the late 15th or early 16th century.

I am mostly interested in the image "No. 4, detail" on page 20, and this sentence on page 18, "The only patterning in the scene is in the tablecloth, the two textile hangings to either side of the marble columns, and the stockings and cap of the host figure in the left foreground."

The stockings are tubular, running from just below the knee to just above the ankle.  They may be fringed at the edges, and are patterned in colour with a grid of diamond shapes in orange on a burgundy background.  

They remind me of stockings in the line drawing of the Assyrian hunter on pages 56 and 57 of M.G. Houston and F.S. Hornblower's Ancient Egyptian, Assyrian And Persian Costume and Decorations (London: A&C Black, 1920).  There the stocking was longer, it extended above the knee and under the tunic.  It was secured around the leg under the knee, possibly with a garter, and disappeared into a boot.  The stocking had a grid of diamond shapes.

Their shape resembles the written Tegle and York stocking descriptions in Peter Collingwood's The Techniques of Sprang, though the pattern is different.  Tegle is about 1st century B.C.E. or C.E.; York is around 9th century.

I wonder whether the stockings in the tapestry were based on contemporary costume; that is, European and something commonly worn at the time the tapestry was woven.  An alternative explanation is that the stockings are not, and rather the artist included the stockings because they signify a costume of the Near East and antiquity.

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