After more than three years of work, the project resulting in the accurate reconstruction of the medieval cloth of the merchant, Francesco di Marco Datini of Prato is complete. The tangible result of this project, posited midway between archaeology, archive management and textile design, was the realisation of the cloth in a variety of colours: scarlet, green, blue and purple. The reconstruction of the robe worn by the merchant and a copy of the chasuble, the mitre and stole donated to Pope Francis on the occasion of his visit to the Diocese of Prato in October 2015 are currently on display in the Prato City Textile Room.
The project was founded by the desire to research the origins of the woollen cloth that is a symbol of Prato’s textile identity, giving it new life and demonstrating its incredible modernity. It was a research project that lasted more than three years, involving the city’s industry and culture, beginning with the sponsorship of the Prato Trade Consortium. The project began with an analysis of historical sources and with the study of original samples preserved within the State Archives of Prato. From here, the necessary technical data for the reproduction of the entire production cycle of the cloth, from spinning to finishing was extrapolated, in order to obtain a sample that was as faithful to the original as possible. The project is the result of a collaboration between the museum, the Institute of Economic History in Prato, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, and the “Tullio Buzzi” Institute Alumni Association. The technical production was made possible thanks to the collaboration of a few local companies, including Albini and Pitigliani, Fondazione Lisio of Florence, Filatura Papi Fabio and Rifinizione Santo Stefano.
Subsequently, the merchant’s scarlet red cloak and blue robe were created. Both garments were cut and sewn by hand based on archaeological and iconographic studies documenting the clothing and social status of the merchant class, making particular reference to the Trinità from the Capitoline Museums portraying Datini together with his wife Margherita and his daughter Ginevra.
The cloth was also used to create a chasuble, mitre and stole which were donated to Pope Francis on the occasion of his visit to the Diocese of Prato. Further developments of the project will include a Study day dedicated to medieval cloth and its many uses.