© Kunsthistorisches Museum

Name of Object:

The coronation mantle


Vienna, Austria

Holding Museum:

Kunsthistorisches Museum


AD 1133/1134

Type of object:

Liturgical robe

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Patterned samit (kermes dyed), gold and silver embroidery, pearls, gold with cloisonne enamel, ruby, spinels, saphires, garnets, glass, pearls, tablet weave

Period / Dynasty:

Norman (Palermo)




The precious mantle embroidered with gold, pearls and cloisonné-enamelled plaques was part of the set of robes used at the coronations of the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. These precious robes were made by Arab artisans for the Norman kings in Sicily in the 12th and 13th centuries and passed to the German house of Hohenstaufen.

This unique coronation mantle of heavy red silk is richly embroidered with gold stitching and tens of thousands of pearls. It is semicircular and was fastened with a clasp decorated with precious stones and enamel. The Arabic inscription on the lower hem gives the date of production at the royal workshop in Palermo in AH 528/ AD 1133/34. Thus this robe was made for Roger II of Sicily (1095–1154). The oriental motifs are borrowed from Arabic art: two symmetrically addorsed (back-to-back) lions triumph over a camel; between them like a stylised palm tree is the tree of life. The lions symbolise the ruler defeating his foes.

Because of its preciousness, the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, in spite of the "foreign" motifs, had used it as a coronation mantle since the 13th century. In the 14th century it was believed that the mantle had belonged to Charlemagne, the canonised emperor and renewer of the Roman Empire, who had supposedly won it from the Moors.

Citation of this web page:

 "The coronation mantle" in Explore Islamic Art Collections , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;EPM;at;Mus22;44;en&id=clothing_and_costume

MWNF Working Number: AT2 44

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 Artistic Introduction

Islamic Dynasties / Period

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