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Tapestry in the Middle Ages


Subject: Art History, Visual Arts
Grade: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Brief Description

Students learn about the use of tapestry in the Middle Ages and then weave their own tapestry.


Students will be able to identify the functions of tapestry in the daily lives of Medieval families; handle tools and materials in a safe and responsible manner; construct a tapestry and relate its meaning to Medieval history and culture; understand how artists have used visual language and symbols through time and across cultures.


Middle Ages, tapestry, weaving

Materials Needed


example of an actual tapestry, pictures of medieval tapestries, yarn, cardboard, scissors

Lesson Plan

Say to students: "Imagine living in a huge stone castle. During the winter it would be almost impossible to heat and always quite uncomfortable. What might a solution be?

Through direct instruction, describe to students the uses of tapestries in the Middle Ages:


  • Although we see tapestries as works of art, during the Middle Ages they were often more functional than decorative.


  • Tapestries were often used to make castle rooms easier to heat.


  • Metal hoops sewn into tapestries allowed tapestries to be hung on hooks and made them easy to move. Wars and invasions resulted in frequent moves from castle to castle. That is why tapestries made in one country are often seen today in museums of different countries. A tapestry that now hangs in the Historical Museum of Berne, for example, was seized from Charles le Temeraire, duc de Bourgogne, by the Swiss.


  • Tapestries were woven to fit a specific wall. When tapestries were moved, they were often cut down to fit a smaller room or to give access to a door. This caused the tapestries to wear out more quickly. It's also why tapestries seen in museums today often have different sections of different lengths.


  • Tapestries were also used as furniture covers. Because they were usually made of thick, warm material and could be cut to any size, tapestries were perfect for covering hard wooden chairs and beds.


  • Tapestries were not just used as furnishings, however. Tapestries often told a story, so they were frequently displayed during feasts or processions held during important celebrations. Weaving: Students will use yarn to weave a tapestry of their own.


  • Pre-cut 5x8 cardboard sheets and provide one to each student.


  • Have students cut 1cm slits along each side of the cardboard. Then ask them to tape a long piece of yarn to the back of the cardboard and wrap the yarn around the top and bottom slits. Have them secure the end in a side slit.


  • Demonstrate to students how to weave additional yarn over and under the original piece. Have them repeat the pattern until the tapestry is complete.


  • Ask students to secure a stick to one end of the completed tapestry and add a string for hanging.


  • Encourage students to create a story for their tapestries and to share the stories with their classmates.



Students present their tapestry to the class and explain why tapestries were important during the Middle Ages.


Lesson Plan Source


Ashlynn J. Neel, ([email protected]) Pensacola, Florida




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