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Medieval Tile Sets

Unicorn Tapestries

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Ancient and Medieval Unicorns     Hunt for the Unicorn Tiles    Lady and the Unicorn Tiles

Hunt for the Unicorn and Lady and the Unicorn tile sets.

This is the creature there has never been.
They never knew it, and yet, none the less,
they loved the way it moved, its suppleness,
its neck, its very gaze, mild and serene.

Not there, because they loved it, it behaved
as though it were. They always left some space.
And in that clear unpeopled space they saved
it lightly reared its head, with scarce a trace

of not being there. They fed it, not with corn,
but only with the possibility
of being. And that was able to confer

such strength, its brow put forth a horn. One horn.
Whitely it stole up to a maid -- to be
within the silver mirror and in her.

~Rainer Marie Rilke

Unicorn History

Lascaux Unicorn

Paleolitchic painting of a unicorn, Lascaux, France - estimated to be up to 20,000 years old.

Ancient Unicorns

It has a single horn in the middle of its forehead. But how can it be caught? One places an elegantly clad virgin in its path. And then, the beast leaps into the virgin’s lap and follows her. ~ Physiologus, The Unicorn, third century AD

Surprisingly, the earliest reported unicorns do not come from mythology, but rather from Greek accounts of natural history. The Greeks believed that unicorns lived in far away India. From 300-100 BC, it was common for hunter to take a virgin with them on the hunt. Because a unicorn will approach a virgin with reverence and lie down beside her, the hunters were afforded a chance to capture the unicorn.

Medieval Unicorns

Medieval unicorns stem fom the Greek accounts, from single-horned creatures call "aurochs" seen on the cave paintings in Lascaux, France, and from biblical references to single horned creatures:

Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn? ~Job 39:9-12 (King James version)

Remaining fragments of the Unicorn Captured by the Maiden tapestry

Remaining fragments of The Unicorn Captured by the Maiden tapestry

The complete Hunt for the Unicorn tapestries, housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, consists of seven scenes, six of which are available as tile: The Start of the Hunt, The Unicorn at the Fountain, The Hunters Cross Paths with the Unicorn, The Unicorn Defends Itself, The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle, and The Captive Unicorn. Sadly, the Unicorn Captured by the Maiden tapestry, shown here, is in fragments, due to mishandling.

Unicorn tapestries tiles

Medieval Unicorn Tiles

The medieval unicorn is a symbol of purity and grace. In magick, it is a white arts creature who can protect those it favors from illness and malwishes.

About the Unicorn Tiles

I have two sets of medieval unicorn tapestry tiles available: The Lady and the Unicorn and The Hunt for the Unicorn. Morris himself preferred the richness of tapestries over the the popular wallpaper. Morris & Co. created several tapestries along medieval themes.

The Lady and the Unicorn

The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, housed at the Musee National de Moyen Age, shows the five senses: Hearing, Sight, Touch, Smell, and Taste. A sixth tile, Love (à mon seul desire) completes the set. The series were discovered in 1841 by Prosper Mérimée in Boussac castle. The tapestry is complete with its six pieces. Five of them illustrate each of the five senses.

The six Lady and the Unicorn tiles are available as six- and eight-inch height. The two rectangular tiles, Taste and à mon seul desire, are 8 x 6 or 10 x 8 inches.

Lady and the Unicorn tiles

Pricing for Lady and the Unicorn tiles

6 inch square tiles: $53 each

8 inch x 6 inch tiles: $70

8 inch square tiles: $80 each

10 inch x 8 inch tiles: $97

There is a minimum order of five tiles, but you can choose tiles from either set.

The Hunt for the Unicorn Tapestries

I have six tiles in the Hunt for the Unicorn set: The Start of the Hunt, The Unicorn at the Fountain, The Hunters Cross Paths with the Unicorn, The Unicorn Defends Itself, The Unicorn is Brought to the Castle, and The Captive Unicorn. The Hunt for the Unicorn tiles are available as 6-inch and 8 inch square tiles.

Hunt for the Unicorn tiles

Pricing for Hunt for the Unicorn tiles

6 inch square tiles: $53 each

8 inch square tiles: $80 each

There is a minimum order of five tiles, but you can choose tiles from either set.

See How to Order Tile.

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Related Pages

Bestiary

The Forest backsplash and border tiles

Labors of the Month from the Book of Hours of the Duc de Berry

Resources

Metropolitan Museum of Art / National Endowment for Humanities article on the Unicorn Tapestries (large pdf)

Photos

Lady and the Unicorn, A Mon Seul Desire

Hunt for the Unicorn, Framed Tiles

Hunt for the Unicorn tiles