The Iconic 'A Griccia' Motif in Renaissance Vestments

The "a griccia" motif is perhaps one of the most notable and recognizable patterns found in Renaissance textiles. The Italian word itself can refer to something folded/wrinkled (as in the "cotta griccia" for example) or something curled or whimsical -- which, in this particular instance, is most likely coming in reference to the winding, whimsical trunk design that characterizes this particular textile.  In addition to that winding trunk, various other design elements are attached to this motif, generally including elements such as pomegranates, pine cones, artichokes, acanthus leaves, thistles and the like. Generally speaking the scale of the motif is quite large, which would have well suited it to very large surfaces, but as the styles changed these precious silk velvets were donated to the Church so that they could be turned into liturgical vestments -- and this is largely for that reason why we still have the privilege of being able to see these textiles with our own eyes today; textiles that might have otherwise been lost to the fads and fashions of their particular times.  

These materials were produced in the great Italian cites of Venice, Florence and Genoa, but also in Lucca as well as certain Spanish cities such as Granada and Valencia -- though the design motif in question itself finds it origins in the Ottoman Empire -- and while these patterns might seem quite busy to moderns such as ourselves, they represent the height of textile design during the period of the later 1400's through 1500's. 

A few examples of the genre as it translated into vestment design:

While red/gold combinations seem to be the most common, at least in the extant examples we still have, other colours beyond red can likewise be found in this motif such as this which comes in a very deep blue. 

For those whose tastes are more "Renaissance" than modern, you will be pleased to know that this iconic textile design remains an option to acquire even down to our very own day. As such, if you ask for "a griccia" from any notable vestment maker or textile producer, they are quite likely to know exactly of what you speak. 

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