Gifts of textiles and clothing appeared in diverse contexts and fulfilled various functions in pre-modern Europe. They could be offered in the course of an initiation rite and or an act of social transition, including upon investiture, marriage, or entry into a monastery. Gifts of clothing to the poor, meanwhile, were among the works of charity thematized in the vitae of numerous medieval saints. Sumptuous textiles were sent as resplendent gifts to religious institutions or circulated through diplomatic gift exchanges. Gifts of clothing were distributed within the court as remuneration (in kind) and served to structure and hierarchize court society. Textile gifts could also represent the donor. Especially in the case of clothing previously worn by its donor, the materiality and form of the gifted garment might have been imbued with the physical presence of the giver. This volume aims to situate the diversity and polysemy of such acts of symbolic communication within the broader context of medieval gift giving. Integrating anthropological and sociological models into an art historical approach allows gifted artifacts to be taken seriously as independent entities within the giving process as a socially generative form of communication. With its focus on images and objects, art history is poised to show how the dynamics of reciprocity and its attendant obligations might have been charged both visually and materially. In turn, the relationships between the actors and the “agency” of gifts themselves take on sharper contours.
Introduction. Towards an Unpacking of the Medieval Textile Gift, Christiane Elster, Stephanie Luther - Der Stoff aus dem Geschenke sind. Zur Materialität der Gabe, Jan Keupp - The Holy Network. The Place of Textiles in Early Relic Circulation, Alžb ta Filipová - Materials of Devotion. Reassessing the Textile Gift in Byzantium, Cecily J. Hilsdale - Alleanze con la seta al tempo del Concilio di Lione (1274). Il Pallio di Michele VIII Paleologo per il Papa Gregorio X, Silvia Leggio - Ideal, Norm, and Practice. Textile Gifts by Women in the Light of Berthold of Zwiefalten’s Chronicle, Stefanie Seeberg - Das eigene Gewand verschenken. Ein Exempel der Caritas in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit, Philine Helas - Fashioning Diplomacy. Gift Exchange, Luxury Textiles, and Aristocratic Array in Fifteenth-Century Italy, Timothy McCall - Piety, Patronage and Politics. Textile Gifts by the Valois Dukes of Burgundy to Notre-Dame des Flamandes in the Cathedral of Tournai, Lisa Monnas - Abiti e corredi nei testamenti pisani (secoli XIII-XIV), Eleonora Rava