Silk fragment with a griffin
Museum no. 764-1893
The griffin has the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle and was seen as a protector from evil. The motif possibly originated in Achaemenid Iran, though it was also used in Byzantine art. As with the senmurv, this exotic creature travelled to Western Europe on silks. Here they captured the local imagination. The Western craftsmen sometimes mixed the creatures' characteristics, and as a result the beasts took on a more cartoonish appearance. On this textile fragment, only the griffin's head remains, though the trunk of an elephant is just visible below it, indicating it was part of an animal combat scene.