Eastern Influences on Textiles

Eastern cultures largely influenced the designs in textile patterns. By the 14th century, evidence of this influence was beginning to show in Venetian clothing. On ceremonial occasions, expensive fabrics would be seen with patterns in the subject of nature, specifically present was the design of a pomegranate. The pomegranate was considered to be the symbol of immortality and fertility in Eastern religions. This can be compared to how the Chinese used the lotus flower and the Indian culture used the buta in their patterns. These cultures believed in the same concept of representing these precious symbols on their garments. The asymmetrical, repeated diagonal emphasis of Venetian gowns and headdresses are strongly comparable to the Chinese fashions. There was also a presence of Chinese “monstrous dragon-like creatures and the Chinese ‘tschi’ symbol of a cloud formation with sun-rays mingled with the griffins, eagles and stags” that was clearly shown in the garments of Venetian women. A portrait of Isotta degli Atti da Rimini by an unknown Florentine artist, painted between 1460 and 1470, shows these Eastern influences. Her garment is patterned with themes of nature and her headdress shows the diagonal designs in repeat in an asymmetrical manner. Evidence of trade with the East is also present in the Chinese silks worn by the holy figures. These beautiful silks had compellingly brilliant color with embroidered floral patterns found on the garments.

Unknown Florentine artist

1460-1470 (?)

Portrait of a Lady in Red (Portrait of Isotta di Rimini)


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