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There is a simple commentary explaining the images which appears to have been added as an afterthought and there is often not enough space for the letters. The Bayeux Embroidery, however, is not based on any extant text. In fact, it is in the unique position of being considered as primary material, or in other words, it is regarded by historians as a text itself, replete with subtexts in the upper and lower borders.

As such this textile, though not a tapestry, is an interesting example of the relationship between textile and text. It is clearly linear and sequential as one event logically succeeds the preceding one and it reads like a text, from left to right. It serves here as an introduction to the complex relationships between text and textile in the Middle Ages.

The first major tapestry narrative cycle is the Angers Apocalypse now in the Chateau d’Angers. Woven from 1360 to 1380, it is eighty-four framed scenes divided into six sections representing selected verses from Revelations in the New Testament. Originally it measured around 300 meters long and four and a half meters high and there were woven inscriptions of which only vestiges remain. These may have been either direct quotations from the text or supplementary descriptions of the actions and characters portrayed.

Figure 2 Apocalypse d’Angers Section 1

Figure 2 shows the first scenes from the Apocalypse. The first image on the left is from Chapter 1, verse 4, which says: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before the throne.

In the first upper panel in figure 2 Saint John is to the left of the seven churches. The seven angels on the churches are not mentioned in the text, but perhaps they represent the spirits.

The next scene is the vision of the Son of Man and carefully represents the details enumerated in the text: the seven stars in the hand of God, the two edged sword, the candlesticks, etc. However, occasionally the text was too dense for the designers or perhaps the weavers. In panel 38, for example, which represents Chapter 9, verse 3: and behold a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads, there are indeed seven heads and ten horns but no crowns.

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