Tapestries were quite popular back in the old days basically due to a couple of reasons. One, because these huge textiles when hung on the walls of castles and homes can ward of the cold. Two, these are status symbols for the powerful and the wealthy. And three, the portability of these wall decorations allow the owners to transfer them from one castle resident to another. This is also why tapestries have been conveniently passed down from generations. This is also a reason why quite a number of old tapestries still exist today. Today, there are some famous tapestries much like the famous works of art of painters and sculptors.
Probably the golden age of tapestry making can be traced to Paris, France during the 12th century. But the revolutionary war that occurred in the country forced the tapestry weavers to migrate and eventually settling in Flanders which now is Belgium and the northern France regions. Among the oldest tapestries today is the seven tapestry series Apocalypse of Angers. The date indicates it was commission in the late 1300s. The tapestries measure 16.5 feet high and about 80 feet long, quite the standard during those times.
Subjects for tapestries vary but cultural and societal influences play major roles in this. Tapestries depicted subject matters from nature and landscapes to fantasy, historical accounts and scenes to Biblical stories, from Greek mythology to ordinary hunting scenes of the aristocracy, and from impressionist and modern art. Basically any designer can create a design for a tapestry but everything lies on the how skillful a weaver is.
Historians and conservationists recognized the importance of these tapestries not only for their visual value as an art work but also as their significance in history. In fact, the World Heritage Sites identified some of the more famous tapestries around the world, most of which are included in declared heritage sites.
Among the famous tapestries include those found in the cathedrals and castles of Cracow in Poland. Also mentioned is the Golden Mountains of Altai Pazyryk carpet which is dated in the 5th century BC Pazyryk and said to be a product of an Achaemenid carpet production centre. Seljuk carpets in Istanbul are also among the Heritage’s list of famous carpets.
And of course the 105 carpets prepared by Le Brun for the Louvre in Paris as well as the tapestries by Rafael which hang in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican are worth to mention.
Other famous tapestries include the Sampul tapestry which is now in Urumqi Xinjiang Museum in China. The work is of woolen origin and probably was created somewhere in the 3rd and 2nd century BC. Another ancient or historic work is the Hestia Tapestry in Egypt which is dated to be around the 6th century.
One of the more popular tapestries, but definitely the largest one, is The Apocalypse Tapestry which whos the scenes from the Book of Revelation. Created between 1373 and 1382, the whole thing was supposed to be 140 meter or 459 feet long. However, due to damage, what remains is just 100 meters. The Apocalypse Tapestry can be viewed in Ch?teau d’Angers, in Angers, France.
Another work housed in Paris is the six-part piece La Dame ? la Licorne which translates to The Lady and the Unicorn. There are a lot more famous tapestries that probably fell one way or the other in the hands of queens and kings found in the Spanish royal collection. You can find a huge collection of Flanders tapestry here.