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Altar front known as 'The cloth of the witches'

  • 'Cloth of the witches'. Front view © Abegg-Stiftung, CH 3132 Riggisberg, 2000 (Photo: Christoph von Viràg)

    'Cloth of the witches'. Front view © Abegg-Stiftung, CH 3132 Riggisberg, 2000 (Photo: Christoph von Viràg)



Textiles, clothing and accessories


First half of the 12th century

Cultural background


Original title

Frontal de altar llamado «Paño de las Brujas»
Episcopal Museum of Vic
Barcelona, Catalonia

The 'Cloth of the witches' or 'Antipendium of the witches' is an outstanding woven cloth from the period of Al Andalus which according to tradition was used on the front of an altar,

where it served as the ornamental element. It forms part of a group of Andalusí cloths dating from between the 11th and 12th centuries which were all made using the same technique, the same colours and the same declaration in bands, with pairs of facing animals.

The piece has two alternating decorative bands. The upper and lower bands are repeated, and depict peacocks with their tails opened in a fan and separated by the 'hom', or tree of life. In the central fringe the motifs represented are fantastic animals with a lion's body, wings, a harpy's talons and a tail in the shape of a serpent with panther's heads. The join between the heads forms the shape of a face, both human and animal, which is the origin of the name of the cloth.

Details of the work

Monastery of Sant Joan de Les Abadesses


108 x 238 cm

Silk warp and weft


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