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IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 1702: Textiles and Their Social, Technical, and Symbolic Facets

Thursday 6 July 2023, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Diane J. Reilly, Hope School of Fine Art, Indiana University, Bloomington
Paper 1702-aConnecting Recipes from Medieval Manuscripts on Printed Textiles
(Language: English)
Tonia R. Brown, Independent Scholar, Fairborn, Ohio
Index terms: Art History - Decorative Arts, Art History - Painting, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Printing History
Paper 1702-bThe Thread Count of Myths: A Material Ecocritical Reading and Genre Exploration of 'The Lady and the Unicorn' Tapestries
(Language: English)
Sarah Burt, Department of English, Saint Louis University, Missouri
Index terms: Art History - General, Folk Studies, Heraldry
Paper 1702-cClothing Maintenance in Early Islam: Shifting Boundaries between Theology and Reality
(Language: English)
Hadas Hirsch, Faculty of Humanities & Social Science, Oranim Academic College of Education, Israel
Index terms: Daily Life, Gender Studies, Islamic and Arabic Studies, Social History

Paper -a:
At least four medieval manuscripts include recipes for making colourants or pigments expressly for the purpose of printing on textiles, for garments and decorative furnishings. This paper catalogues, compares, and contrasts recipes and instructions from each of these manuscripts from Germany, Italy, Sweden, and Egypt from the 10th through the 15th centuries. This paper will also document the author's attempts at reproducing some of the recipes and techniques described in these and other relevant and complementary manuscripts, while comparing results to extant pieces.

Paper -b:
The Lady and the Unicorn is a six-paneled tapestry commissioned for the family Le Viste in approximately 1500 with famously elusive origins. This work aims to disentangle the many themes and mysteries of the tapestries' conception into literary criticism via an eco-material reading. Reading the piece with material cultures and animal agency in mind reveals that the use of visual storytelling and the medium of sheep's wool dismantles gender and human/animal hierarchies by entangling layers of religious verse, unicorn symbology, and the contemporaneous story-telling conventions of the chivalric romance genre. Reading with these threads in mind allows us to explore the romantic story-telling conventions of The Lady and the Unicorn, and how the tapestries' medium, materials, and culture are entangled in their unique narrative.

Paper -c:
The symbolic, religious, economic, and practical value of clothing is reflected in the medieval legal discussions on the ways clothing is polluted, thus, improper for religious rituals and in particular for prayer, and the ways clothing can be purified. The goal of this paper is to reveal, describe and analyze the daily, frequent, public, and domestic situations that pollute clothing, and the creative ways of maintaining its use and purifying it for prayer by simple, domestic, and inexpensive acts of cleanliness. Islam has developed a complicated living system of jurisprudence that discusses all aspects of the believers' life ranging from cult and religious duties to clothing. The primary source for this study is medieval Muslim jurisprudence that was composed in the Muslim east (al-Mashriq) by jurists from different schools of law. These sources reflect a built-in tension between theology and reality; On one hand, hypothetical and abstract discussions and on the other hand, reality that reflects the community's needs, aspirations, changes, and developments.
A ritual purity code that legitimized the cleansing of clothing instead of necessitating a change of clothing or discarding it before prayer reflects the jurists' practical point of view that joins pragmatism and theology. The simple solutions that enable the believer to use his daily clothing for prayer lower the barriers between purity and pollution and create a path in which the believers can move easily from pollution to purification. In between the lines, we learn about the need to improve personal hygiene, and a proper way to impose it is by using a religious sanction that forbids prayer while wearing a dirty piece of clothing. Improvement of personal hygiene and aesthetics affects sanitation, health conditions and diseases, and in this case jurisprudence has an educational role of endowing values of cleanliness and personal care.