Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cluny: The Beginnings

I stepped into this shadowed round room
in the Museum of the Middle Ages
to find a circle of tapestries,
woven sometime in the late 1500's,
at the center of each,
a young maiden,
flanked by a lion and a unicorn.
Here placards in French tell
the mystery of the tapestries,
lost and found, restored,
now treasured.
Six tapestries, but no one to decode
the story told by each weaving:
Some say in the very last tapestry,
the maiden renounces love
to enter a convent.
But I see the lion and the unicorn,
and I think they tell a different tale.

The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries
Museum of the Middle Ages (Cluny)
(Camp 2004)
Much better pictures of these beautiful tapestries (and their history) are available on Flickr, at the Museum of the Middle Ages (alas, only in French), and on Wikipedia. Tracey Chevalier has written a tale of these tapestries as well, The Lady and the Unicorn.

From the moment we stepped into the courtyard of the Museum of the Middle Ages (formerly the Cluny Museum) and noticed three curious large shells mounted on a front-facing wall, we were enchanted by these beautiful artifacts from so long ago. The shells testify someone who once lived here had gone on pilgrimage, perhaps to Jerusalem. 

Photo of the Museum of the Middle Ages by Victoria Coffman who noted this estate was built in the 15th Century.

1 comment:

Alyce Eccentrick said...

Wow, Museum of the Middle Ages. So cool! I am fascinated by all things medieval, so I think that I would really enjoy seeing such a museum!!! (the building does look as if it could be haunted but that could be because Halloween is coming!)2157