Embroidered appliques of the ornaments of Abbot Arnau de Vilalba

Textiles and clothing


End of the 14th-early 15th century

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Arnau de Vilalba, abbot of Sant Joan de les Abadesses between 1393 and 1427, promoted improvements to the monastery such as the reconstruction of the abbot’s palace. These luxurious embroideries, along with others such as those on the antependium with Jesus and the Evangelists (MEV 1951), testify that he also commissioned rich fabrics for liturgical ornaments. These are four pieces embroidered with gold and silver threads and colored silks according to different techniques. The two shorter ones served as a garment for the amit (the handkerchief that the presbyter puts on before the alb and the chasuble, which is folded leaving a visible strip at the nape) or collar (the equivalent for deacons, which is worn on the dalmatic). Both have in the center the coat of arms of Vilalba (gold, a sash gules, i.e. red) within a vegetal crown, in one case crowned with the miter and in the other with a crozier passed behind. On both sides, four conopial arches include figures in bust: on the first one are Saints Catherine, Apollonia, Barbara and Magdalena, and on the second Moses, Daniel, David and Simeon, characters from the Old Testament. The longer strips were the central ornament of a chasuble, the piece worn by the presbyter or bishop to celebrate mass. Despite their greater length, they are less decorated: on a gold embroidered background with a reticular motif, three fields are spaced, alternately blue and red, above which the Vilalba coat of arms appears again, in ogival or diamond profile. The presence of the saints, but also of the abbot's heraldry, is a good example of the combination of devotion and representation that often characterizes medieval religious art.

Judit Verdaguer Serrat

Llegir més


Room23 ,Floor2

18 Leather

19 Gold, Silver and Metalworking Arts

20 Forge Work

21 Ceramics

22 Study Galleries

Detalls de l’obra




End of the 14th-early 15th century


Silk, linen and embroidered gold and silver threads


12.7 x 57 cm (MEV 368 and 371)


From the monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses


MEV 368, 371